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BBC reveals new-look Top Gear

The BBC has unveiled a new lead presenter to replace the outgoing Jeremy Clarkson on motoring show Top Gear.

New host Chris Evans

New host Chris Evans

Chris Evans, who has fronted TV programmes including Channel 4’s entertainment show TFI Friday and is a presenter on BBC Radio 2, will take up the role after signing a three-year contract.

He will be joined by two new co-hosts, after the BBC confirmed Clarkson’s co-presenters – James May and Richard Hammond – would not be returning to the programme.

Evans, a friend of Clarkson, is known as a car enthusiast and pledged to “do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone on before and take the show forward.”

The former Big Breakfast presenter, who had previously denied being in the running for the role, added: “I’m thrilled. Top Gear is my favourite programme of all time. Created by a host of brilliant minds who love cars and understand how to make the massively complicated come across as fun, devil-may-care and effortless, when in fact, of course, it’s anything but. And that’s the genius of Top Gear’s global success.”

Airing on BBC2, Top Gear is one of the UK pubcaster’s highest-rating shows. It brings in around £50m (US$75m) per year for commercial arm BBC Worldwide via finished programme and format sales.

Doubts have been expressed that the show will prove as popular, or valuable, without Clarkson, who failed to have his contract extended after punching producer Oisin Tymon.

Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC2 and BBC4, said Evans’ “knowledge of and passion for cars are well known, and combined with his sheer inventiveness and cheeky unpredictability, he is the perfect choice to take our much-loved show into the future.”

Exec producer Andy Wilman, who has also said he will leave the show, relaunched Top Gear with Clarkson in 2002 and the two school friends went on to turn the programme into a global hit. Clarkson’s last appearance on the show will air in the UK on June 28, with the episode comprising two films shot prior to the fracas that led to his departure.

Clarkson has since been rumoured to be in talks over a new motoring show with various parties, including Netflix, although there has been no confirmation about his next move.

Top Gear’s rights are owned by Bedder 6, which was a joint venture between BBCWW, Clarkson and Wilman. BBCWW bought out Clarkson and Wilman’s stakes in the company in 2012.

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