Top Gear will keep its “sense of danger” when the show returns with Chris Evans hosting, BBC director general Tony Hall has said.
Tony Hall said he was “thrilled” Chris Evans was replacing Jeremy Clarkson, who was sacked after punching a producer.
He also said he hoped the new Top Gear would appeal to existing fans and bring in people who were “put off by part of how the program was in the past”.
“I’d like to see some women in the presenting team,” Tony Hall added.
Top Gear‘s close-to-the-knuckle humor and high-octane stunts are all part of the attraction to the show’s 6.5 million viewers.
The show, however, has a long history of controversy under its previous stewardship, including accusations of racism and inappropriate comments.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Tony Hall said he believed Chris Evans would be able to reinvent the show as he knew “what makes a good program”.
“I hope that edge will be there and that sense of danger will be there. I need to leave it to Chris and the team to make up their mind about what they think is going to work best,” he said.
“You’ve go to trust the talent and give them confidence to do the things they want to do.”
Tony Hall also denied knowledge of claims Jeremy Clarkson was offered his job back as the host of Top Gear, after the presenter told The Sun an unnamed BBC executive had “asked if I’d come back” last week.
“I have no idea what that’s all about,” the director general said.
“I made it absolutely clear when I said ‘we’re going to part company’ that was it.”
Jeremy Clarkson’s final episode of Top Gear will be broadcast on June 28.
Top Gear new host, Chris Evans, has launched a search for the new show presenters on June 19.
An open audition invites fans to post a short video to the BBC. It should be no longer than 30 seconds, and must not feature cars, stunts or gimmicks – just the applicant talking directly to the camera.
Chris Evans, who was announced on June 17 as the replacement of Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC show, said the hosts could be “male, female, young or old, it doesn’t matter”.
“If you’re up for it, we want to hear from you, but you’ve got to know about cars,” Chris Evans said.
However, Chris Evans clarified, the job on offer was not necessarily that of presenter. “You could be auditioning to be a driver. You could be auditioning to be a film reporter. Or you could be auditioning to be a co-host.
“If we don’t find anybody who’s good enough, if there’s nobody right for this from these videos, we will not be appointing anyone. Or the whole new team might be from these videos. We don’t know.”
Chris Evans added that the age limit had been raised to 17: “Yesterday I said 16, sorry about that.”
The new Top Gear co-host will be a woman, Chris Evans has confirmed.
Chris Evans, who was announced as Jeremy Clarkson’s replacement on June 16, said Top Gear would star at least one woman, chosen not “for the sake of it” but because of their passion for cars.
Former model Jodie Kidd, who presents Channel 5’s Classic Car Show, has already been tipped for the role.
Formula One presenter Suzi Perry has also been rumored for the show.
Suzi Perry appeared prominently in the audience of Chris Evans’ TV show TFI Friday last week, shortly after he agreed to host Top Gear.
However, bookmakers have made Jodie Kidd the favorite to fill one of the two slots left by James May and Richard Hammond, who quit the show in the wake of Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking.
Jodie Kidd currently attracts odds of 1/3, with former motorcycle racer turned broadcaster Guy Martin at 5/2, and Suzi Perry, Philip Glenister and Demot O’Leary all at 4/1.
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nicky Campbell, Chris Evans said he wanted his co-stars to be “extremely knowledgeable about cars… people who have great energy, good timing… who are keen to do things differently”.
Asked if one of the presenters would be female, Chris Evans replied: “I can confirm that definitely, 100 per cent.”
The BBC has not given a timescale for announcing a replacement, but filming on Top Gear new series is expected to begin in a few weeks.
Chris Evans is replacing Jeremy Clarkson as the host of an all-new Top Gear line-up, the BBC Two has announced.
The TV and radio said he was “thrilled” to get the job, describing Top Gear as his “favorite program of all time”.
Chris Evans said: “I promise I will do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone on before and take the show forward.”
Jeremy Clarkson was dropped in March after punching a Top Gear producer while on location.
Car enthusiast Evans, who has signed a three-year deal with the motoring show, had been tipped to replace his good friend Jeremy Clarkson but had previously insisted he was not interested.
An “all-new” line-up means Jeremy Clarkson’s co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May will not be involved.
Top Gear is watched by 350 million viewers worldwide and is one of the BBC’s biggest shows, with overseas sales worth an estimated $75 million a year.
Once the news broke, Chris Evans tweeted: “First tweet as new Top Gear host. I would like to say Jeremy, Richard & James are the greatest. And NO I’m not leaving the R2 Breakfast Show.”
In a statement, Chris Evans said: “I’m thrilled, Top Gear is my favorite program 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.”
Back in March, Chris Evans had denied that he was taking over the show’s presenting duties, tweeting: “I can categorically say I am not and will NEVER be running for office. Pls discount my candidacy.”
Production on the new series of Top Gear will start in the next few weeks and the BBC said more information would be announced in due course.
Jeremy Clarkson’s final appearance on Top Gear will be shown on June 28. The episode will be made up of two films shot before Jeremy Clarkson was suspended, with Richard Hammond and James May presenting links from the studio.
Viewers will see Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May behind the wheel of classic cars and beaten-up 4x4s in their final challenges as a trio.
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