FORMER Top Gear host Chris Evans has dedicated his morning radio show to his ex-colleagues, advising them to “move on” without him.
The DJ announced on Monday that he was stepping down from the programme after just one series, leaving Friends star Matt LeBlanc in charge.
Speaking to listeners of his BBC Radio 2 this morning show, he said: “Today’s show is dedicated to all the Top Gear gang. And today’s show is entitled Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.”
In a tweet on Monday, Evans said he was stepping aside, adding that he had given it his best shot but “sometimes that’s not enough”.
He praised the team behind the multimillion-pound programme, which is the BBC’s biggest earner.
Evans’ decision to resign came amid widespread reports that Scotland Yard has received an allegation of sexual assault against the presenter dating back to the 1990s.
The final episode of the revamped motoring show aired on Sunday after a rocky ride during its return without Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
The six-episode series was beset by unfavourable reviews, crashing ratings and reports of a breakdown in the relationship between the two lead hosts.
A BBC spokesman said the plan was to continue with the current line-up of presenters in Evans’ absence.
It leaves LeBlanc as the main host, along with racing driver Sabine Schmitz, Formula One presenter Eddie Jordan, YouTube star Chris Harris, car enthusiast Rory Reid and The Stig.
Evans made a brief reference to his Top Gear exit while reading out the newspaper headlines during the breakfast show.
“I’ve got to go here, so bear with me,” he told listeners, quoting the Daily Mirror front page: “Evans quits Top Gear: My best wasn’t good enough.”
“That’s true – that’s what I said yesterday in a tweet,” he said.
After reading out a few more headlines referring to him quitting the motoring programme, he said: “It’s all true, but of course there was another high-profile, much more important resignation yesterday that doesn’t make some of the front pages, and that’s Nigel Farage stepping down from a very influential political party that had a lot to do with the EU referendum last week or the week before.”
Perry McCarthy, the original Stig, said Evans had “just not gelled with the audience”.
Speaking to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain, he said the show had been doomed after the first episode.
He explained: “I thought he would go, I thought he would make that decision, because the ratings have been going down and he’s just not really looked comfortable and he’s just not gelled with the audience.
“I think the biggest mistake was the first show … I feel that their first show was unfortunately really, really bad. They got it wrong.”
He added: “It was too long, it was boring. They had all the resources there, the funny thing is the shows subsequent to that have been so much better, but it was that first one.”
McCarthy said Evans had not been able to follow in the footsteps of Clarkson, Hammond and May.
“There was one thing they had which Chris didn’t have,” he said.
“They created their own environment, didn’t they, so everybody loved them, so Chris did have a real tough act to follow fitting into that, I’ll give him that one, but I just maintain they got the balance wrong.
“They opened this up as a kind of game show around cars. You can’t do that. It’s got to have all the elements, it’s got to have the balance of loads of fun, loads of banter.”
The racing driver, who portrayed The Stig in the first two series of Top Gear, said he did not approve of the BBC continuing with the rest of the line-up and putting LeBlanc at the helm.
He said: “I believe the BBC have really got to have somebody replacing Chris, because what’s Matt going to do, stand there on his own having banter?”
A smiling Evans remained silent as he left the central London studios where he presented his BBC breakfast show. He left without comment as he was driven off in a silver Lexus.