Chris Evans defends Top Gear after viewing figures drop by a third

Sunday’s show was seen by 2.8m people.

Chris Evans has defended the viewing figures of Top Gear, after ratings showed 2.8 million people watched the BBC2 show’s second episode.

The overnight viewing figures for Sunday’s show (June 5) fell by a third compared to the 4.4m overnight figures on its opening episode.

But Evans wrote on Twitter: “Overnight viewing figures for [i]Top Gear have never been less relevant. Obviously, some newspapers prefer to live in the past.”

Although the overnight ratings were 4.4m for the opening episode, a total of 8.15m watched the show across the week, including 1.75m on BBC iPlayer.

On overnight ratings, yesterday’s show netted a 14% total share of the TV audience, beaten by Antiques Roadshow on BBC1, which had 4.2m viewers and Soccer Aid on ITV1 with 3.9m.

Guests on the second episode were Damian Lewis, Tinie Tempah, Seasick Steve and Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri.

The series is the first since previous Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left after Clarkson was fired for punching producer Oisin Tymon in 2015 after Clarkson failed to be provided with a hot dinner following a day of filming.

Clarkson, Hammond and May will present a new car series, The Grand Tour, on Amazon Prime in autumn. The trio have signed a deal with the on-demand channel for three series of 12 hour-long episodes.