LONDON – For the millions of loyal “Top Gear” viewers around the world, the wait is over. The wildly popular BBC auto show finally has a successor to fired host Jeremy Clarkson, who was canned in March after punching a producer while on location.
TV and radio personality Chris Evans will replace Clarkson as lead presenter of a new “Top Gear” line-up, the BBC announced Tuesday.
In his first tweet as new Top Gear host, Evans told fans, “I would like to say Jeremy, Richard and James are the greatest. And NO I’m not leaving the R2 Breakfast Show.”
Richard Hammond and James May, who were Clarkson’s co-hosts, will not be involved in the newest incarnation of “Top Gear,” according to the BBC’s David Sillito.
Acknowledging Clarkson’s legacy, Sillito said that while Evans is a household name, Clarkson had a long-running association with “Top Gear” and his were big shoes to fill.
Describing the motoring show as his “favourite programme of all time,” Evans said he was “thrilled” to get the job.
He credited the global success of “Top Gear” to the “brilliant minds who love cars and understand how to make the massively complicated come across as fun, devil-may-care and effortless.”
There were rumors that Evans, who signed a three-year deal with BBC Two, was a front-runner to replace Clarkson, but he had insisted he was not interested.
Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC Two, said she was “delighted” that Evans would be presenting the next series of “Top Gear.”
“He knows the phenomenal attention to detail it takes to make a single sequence of ‘Top Gear,’ let alone a whole series. He is already full of brilliant ideas, and I can’t wait for him to get started,” she said.
Clarkson, who was first suspended and then dropped by the BBC in March, will be seen for a final time on “Top Gear” on June 28.
Production of the new series of “Top Gear” will begin in the next few weeks, according to the BBC. – CNN