Chris Evans hits back at critics

Chris Evans hits back at critics

Chris Evans has hit back after viewers slammed his Top Gear debut.

The revamped BBC Two show returned to TV screens on Sunday night with Evans and former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc at the helm.

Viewers were quick to criticise the motoring show on social media, with many of the comments referring to Evans' "shouty" and "too excitable" hosting style. Fans also felt that he had tried - unsuccessfully - to imitate former frontman Jeremy Clarkson.

However, Evans has now taken to Twitter to defend the show, suggesting in a series of posts that he was satisfied with how the first episode went.

He wrote: "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."

The star's next post said: "Top Gear audience grew throughout the hour. FACT. Won its slot. FACT. Still number one on i Player. FACT. These are THE FACTS folks."

He said in a third tweet: "Top Gear series 1 episode 23, catch it again tonight 7pm BBC2. That's when it's on. FACT."

LeBlanc, 48, who escaped most of the barbs online, has yet to comment.

Sunday night's instalment kicked off with a light-hearted dig at Clarkson, who was sacked for an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" on a producer, apparently over catering.

During Evans' opening segment he introduced a group of people from an Indian restaurant and asked the audience what they thought they were doing there.

One person suggested they were there to prepare the food, and Evans, 50, said: "By the way, we don't talk about catering on this show any more."

Evans visited a US Naval Base where he raced a Dodge Viper ACR against a Corvette Z06, and LeBlanc was seen trying out an Ariel Nomad in the Moroccan desert. The pair also raced from London to Blackpool in roofless Reliant Rialtos.

Chef Gordon Ramsay and actor Jesse Eisenberg became the first celebrities on the leaderboard after racing a Mini Cooper around the track.

Within minutes of Top Gear starting viewers on social media were expressing their dismay.

There were calls for the return of Clarkson and his co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May.

The popular trio will be back with a new Amazon Prime motoring show called The Grand Tour, which will make its debut on the streaming service in the autumn.

TV presenter Carol Vorderman was among those to comment online.

She tweeted: "Sorry #TopGear ... switching off ... looking forward to the proper boys on @amazonprimenow soon ... night all xxx."

Ratings released on Monday show that the episode failed to reach the viewing figures of the last series.

It drew 4.4 million viewers, with a peak of 4.7 million, while the last series bowed out with 5.8 million viewers.

However, the show was still the most-watched programme in the 8pm time slot, beating Antiques Roadshow on BBC One and the British Soap Awards on ITV.