It appears the rumblings of discontent have not yet dissipated for the revamped Top Gear as reports have emerged suggesting presenter Matt LeBlanc will quit if Chris Evans is not removed from the panel first.
According to The Sun’s sources, LeBlanc has not taken kindly to Evans’ behaviour towards colleagues, including their fellow presenters, reportedly causing dissension.
The rumours come amid a deeply uncertain time for the BBC’s flagship motoring show, with bosses concerned over a dramatically declining audience. Just 2.34 million tuned into last week’s episode, which is less than the lowest audience ever accrued by a transmission fronted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May (2.36 million in June 2003).
The Sun’s source is quoted saying: “The team does not gel and the atmosphere between the presenters is frosty.”
“Matt’s indicated he won’t continue on any further series if Chris remains. He is far from the only one who is not happy.”
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) June 26, 2016
“Chris is not encouraging when any of the others are doing their links. On one occasion this month he even pretended to bump his head against a wall in frustration when Eddie Jordan kept fluffing his lines.
“He also seems to be jealous of the attention and praise which has been heaped on Chris Harris and Rory Reid in particular since the show began.
“You would have thought that with his experience, he would help out those new to studio recording. But he doesn’t encourage them in any way.
“He just isn’t interested. He doesn’t even hang out with the others back stage and firmly keeps his distance from all of them at the aerodrome.”
A spokesman for LeBlanc reportedly told the Sun that nothing has been “discussed or decided” just a few months ahead of the start of filming for series two.
This is not the first time reports have emerged centring on Evans’ behaviour or relationship with other members of the presenting panel or crew.
At the end of 2015, executive producer Lisa Clark allegedly quit due to Evans’s ‘tyrannical behaviour’ on set. Although the BBC denied such claims at the time, the atmosphere surrounding the show has been far from harmonious since.
One of the biggest controversies with the new Top Gear was LeBlanc performing doughnuts around the Cenotaph First World War memorial in London, prompting accusations of disrespect. According to reports, this triggered a breakdown in LeBlanc and Evans’s relationship.