BBC Entertainment boss Alan Tyler has defended Top Gear’s performance after 1.5m viewers tuned out for the show’s second episode.
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.
The episode attracted an overnight viewing figure of 4.3m viewers, a number which grew to 6.42m when official audience auditor BARB included those who recorded the show to watch within seven days.
According to the BBC, that revised number “is on par in terms of volume with episode one in 2015 (6.41m) and just ahead of the 2015 series average (6.32m).”
Episode one was also downloaded 1.75 million times, although it’s unknown how many of these would be requests from those who’ve already watched the episode.
Last night’s episode drew just 2.8 million viewers, meaning around a third of those who tuned in for the new team’s debut opted not to return for their second episode.
The BBC claims the episode was “the most requested programme on BBC iPlayer” and many more will have recorded the show to watch later.
However the live audience figures are substantially lower than for past series and some outlets report concern within the BBC about the sharp drop-off.
Publicly the corporation continues to back the show and presenters Evans and Matt Le Blanc.
In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, Tyler said: “Last night, Chris, Matt and the team once again brilliantly led BBC Two’s biggest show of the day, by some margin.
“It secured a peak audience of 3.3m, and the show again remained the most requested programme on BBC iPlayer.
“With lots more adventures on the way in this new series, including a continental challenge with the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a luxury car contest in Ireland, stunning review films, plenty of power laps and many more great guests taking on the all-new rallycross track, we are looking forward to Chris, Matt and the gang bringing more of the all-new Top Gear to our audiences.”