The show debuted to disappointing ratings in the UK, netting just 4.3 million viewers on Sunday night. That's down 1.3 million viewers from the show's average with its former hosts, but the bigger concern for Chris Evans is that it's well below his target of 5 million viewers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the opening episode of Top Gear's 23rd season was the lowest rated in 10 years.
What did Chris Evans do in the face of these lackluster figures? Well, he threw a Twitter tantrum. The host sent out a flurry of tweets defending his show and pointing to the ways it bested its predecessor.
The new Top Gear is a hit. OFFICIALLY. 23 % audience share. 12% MORE than the opening episode of the last series. These are the FACTS.— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) May 30, 2016
Top Gear audience grew throughout the hour. FACT. Won its slot. FACT. Still number one on i Player. FACT. These are THE FACTS folks.— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) May 30, 2016
Top Gear series 1 episode 23, catch it again tonight 7 pm BBC2. That's when it's on. FACT.— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) May 30, 2016
If critics and fans say you're shouting too much on TV, it's probably best to avoid "shouting" on Twitter, Chris. That audience share might have been better than season 22's opener, but according to The Sun, it wasn't enough to retain the show's most-watched title; 5.3 million Brits, or 27 percent of the viewership, watched Countryfile, a BBC1 show that "reports on rural and environmental issues in the United Kingdom." With such dismal numbers, you'd think Jeremy Clarkson is wearing his biggest smug face. But he's not.
When approached by reporters from The Daily Mail, Clarkson said he didn't watch the show because he's "busy working on my new show." His co-host Richard Hammond hasn't commented either, The Mail reports, but James May went on record saying he's a "massive fan" of the reborn show.
Combined with the poor ratings, Evans performance as host was broadly panned, both by the mainstream media and on social media. Things are apparently so bad, The Sun reports, that UK bookies have started offering odds on how long Evans and the show itself will be around. You can get 1/4 odds that the BBC will sack Evans at the end of the season and 1/2 odds that Top Gear itself will get the axe. Those aren't very long odds.
"This really isn't the start producers would have wanted. Chris made a rod for his own back by publicly predicting he would get 5 million viewers," an unnamed source told The Sun. "The launch show was the one episode everyone thought would be a huge hit – given the unbelievable hype and mass promoting of the show for the last few months. But it was just an embarrassment."