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Chris Evans quits as lead host on BBC's 'Top Gear'

TV
AFP
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London: British broadcaster Chris Evans on Monday announced he was to step down as lead presenter of BBC's hit motoring show "Top Gear" after only one series, which received mixed reviews.

Evans replaced Jeremy Clarkson as main host last year following the latter's high-profile bust up with a producer.

But the new format has suffered from dwindling viewing figures and claims of a rift between Evans and co-presenter Matt LeBlanc, the "Friends" star.

"Stepping down from Top Gear," Evans, 50, wrote on Twitter.

"Gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best."

Evans had signed a three-year deal to present the world's most popular factual TV programme, but ratings hit an all-time low of 1.9 million during Sunday's series finale.

Clarkson was dropped from the madcap show, which has 350 million viewers per week in 170 countries, after he punched a producer in the face in March.

Evans is a well-known motoring enthusiast who has an impressive collection of expensive fast cars, including rare Ferraris.

"Top Gear", filled with stunts, road tests, adventures and experiments, has featured his car collection in a previous series.

Evans rocketed to fame as a fresh-faced television host in the early 1990s, but went off the rails in an orgy of heavy drinking in the dying days of the Britpop era, including some notorious benders with troubled England footballer Paul Gascoigne.

But he made a comeback as an older, wiser and safer broadcaster, and is also a DJ on BBC Radio 2.

The British Broadcasting Corporation's commercial arm BBC Worldwide earns around £50 million ($75 million, 70 million euros) a year from "Top Gear".

The BBC is reported to be in talks with LeBlanc for a second series.

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