Entertainment & Arts

Chris Evans explains Top Gear decision

Chris Evans Image copyright PA

Chris Evans has told his Radio 2 listeners about the chain of events that led to him accepting the job as presenter on Top Gear.

Here is a transcript of what he had to say on Wednesday morning:

"Here's what happened with me and Top Gear.

"Last Thursday Will [Macdonald] and I from [Channel 4 show] TFI Friday were in my house and we were writing the penultimate draft of the TFI Friday script and running order.

"We'd been doing it all day and it was seven minutes past four.

"I got a text from Mark Linsey who is the head of entertainment at BBC TV. [Mark Linsey's full title is Controller, Entertainment Commissioning.] It basically said, 'would you be interested at all in having a Top Gear conversation?'

"Now, I had never ever been offered the Top Gear job before that.

"I had one brief text exchange about Top Gear with somebody very high up at the BBC, when what has now become infamous happened.

"That was very short, very concise, saying 'if anything happened in the future would you be up for a conversation?'

"So the text I received on Thursday was pretty similar to the one I received three months ago or whenever it was.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Hammond and May had expressed unwillingness to continue without Jeremy Clarkson

"I had some time, so I called Mark Linsey back. Mark explained to me that the situation had changed in the last 24 hours, because Richard [Hammond] and James [May] had finally ruled themselves out of a return to Top Gear.

"Before that they were very much considering returning, the BBC had made an offer to them and I was aware of that.

"I wanted them to return. I wanted Top Gear to carry on, as a fan.

"I wanted Top Gear to carry on with those guys and I thought it was going to happen.

"Whenever I said 'I categorically rule myself out of running for office', it was because I didn't want to be a pawn in a chess game involving three of my friends.

"A few weeks ago James and I went on holiday together, me and my family and him and his partner, for three days in France.

"We talked about what he might do, what Jeremy might do and what Richard might do for most of the three days if I'm honest with you.

"[But] I did not want to be involved in bookies' odds and all that kind of stuff - that was not what the situation needed.

"I wanted to be out of that madness. That for me was going to contaminate the situation.

"But it all changed, as I say, on Wednesday. Mark phoned me up and said 'that's not going to happen - are you up for it?'

"At which point I said 'can I think about it? I'll call you back.'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDavid Sillito reports on Chris Evans' new role

I" talked to Will and my wife about it - they were the only two people I told - and we decided what I do for a living is radio and television and a bit of writing.

"[Top Gear] is the biggest television show in the world, my favourite television show of all time - you know how much of a fan I am of the show.

"I love producing TV, you know the kind of TV I love to produce, and so I said yes.

"We had our first meeting about it on Friday and that was basically that.

"The weekend was strange and calm and exciting and all the different things it could be.

"Yesterday [Tuesday] was a very interesting day, because we decided we were going to announce it [at 19:15 BST] on the BBC Two twitter feed.

"We literally pressed the button at seven fifteen and waited for our phones to melt, which is exactly what happened.

"Before it was announced I texted Jeremy and James and Richard and Andy [Wilman, Top Gear's former producer] and I heard back from all of them.

"James called me back within a minute of me texting him - we're going to meet up today and tomorrow and talk about things and who knows what might happen there.

"Then Jeremy texted me. He said 'I knew they would [offer the job to you], best of luck' and then he gave me a piece of advice which I'm not going to repeat on the radio.

"Then Richard texted me back. He said 'You were designed and built for that job - it'll be great. It was always the BBC's very best option.

"'I certainly don't blame you [for taking the job] - good luck Richard.'

"So that's basically it. Now what I need to do is remember to breathe."

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites