17:04 31 May 2016
Top Gear’s first episode, which featured Chris Evan and Matt LeBlanc, was seen by an average of 4.4 million viewers, lower than the last episode hosted by Jeremy Clarkson last June that attracted 5.3 million viewers.
However, the new show is still the most watched programme in its 20:00 time slot, attracting 22.8per cent of the audience. It was followed by the British Soap Awards on ITV, which was seen by an average of 3.9 million viewers.
New host Chris Evans, who said earlier this week that he would be “disappointed” with anything fewer than five million viewers for the show’s first episode, seemed pleased with the numbers. In a series of tweets he published on Monday, 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.”
He added: “Top Gear audience grew throughout the hour. FACT. Won its slot. FACT. Still number one on iPlayer. FACT. These are THE FACTS folks.
Evans opened the show saying: "Welcome to Top Gear with our all-new, improved audience."