Image: BBC Worldwide
Image: BBC Worldwide
Top Gear’s ratings plummeted to just 2.8million last night as hoards of unhappy viewers walked away from the series following last week’s “disappointing” opening episode.

New host Chris Evans’ debut last Sunday was met with complaints from viewers, many of who took to social media to complain about his “shouty” presenting style and lack of chemistry with co-host Matt Le Blanc.

Over the past week the presenter and BBC have defended the show which attracted just 4.3m viewers, the lowest season opener for a decade, insisting the consolidated viewing figures for the episode was more than 8m.

In recent days the show has also been accused of using canned laughter to cover up silence from unimpressed studio audience members and faced claims that leaked audience data gave the show an appreciation figure of just 60 – 22 points lower than the BBC Two average.

Last night’s 2.8 million viewers – markedly lower than the 5m Evans said he would be “disappointed” if the show fails to attract – means around a third of those who tuned in for the new team’s debut opted not to return for their second episode.

It’s understood that studio segments for the third episode will be the first to be filmed after the show’s opening episode aired.

While the show’s producers and presenters may use audience feedback to tweak the show’s style and tone, falling audience numbers suggest many viewers will never see those changes.

Despite the negative feedback, Evans opened last night’s show by boasting that he would get “more shouty” during the episode.