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Chris Evans: how it happened, in his own words

New Top Gear presenter reveals he’s talked to Jeremy, James and Richard, explains how he got the job

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New Top Gear presenter Chris Evans has this morning discussed how and why he took the job, and confirmed he’s got the thumbs-up from Jeremy, James and Richard.

Speaking on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, Evans also explained why he previously ruled himself out of ‘running for office’, stating he “didn’t want to be a pawn in a chess game involving […] three of my friends.”

The renowned collector of white Ferraris revealed he wasn’t offered the Top Gear job until last Thursday, and has already been wished ‘the best of luck’ from Clarkson, who offered him “a piece of advice […] which I’m not going to repeat on the radio, to be honest.”

James last night tweeted his reaction to the news, saying, “Well: best of luck to @achrisevans and the future of Top Gear (b. 1977). That’s a ballsy call, frankly, and one to be admired.”

Evans described Top Gear as his “favourite television show of all time”, and “the biggest television show in the world.”

“You know what a fan I am of the show,” he said. “Now all I need to do is remember to breathe…”

Read the edited transcript below, or follow this link to listen to Evans explaining in his own words.

Chris Evans, speaking on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, Wednesday June 17:

Last Thursday, I got a text from Mark Linsey, who is head of entertainment for BBC TV. Basically it said, “Would you be interested at all in having a Top Gear conversation?”

I had never been offered the Top Gear job before that. […] So I called Mark Linsey back, and Mark explained to me that the situation had changed in the last 24 hours because Richard and James 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, I was aware of that. And I wanted them to return, wanted Top Gear to carry on, as a fan. And I thought, honestly, as a betting man, that was going to happen.

So 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 two - and in fact three, including Jeremy - 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.

I did not want to be involved in bookies’ odds and all that kind of stuff, because that’s not what the situation needed. I had to get out of that madness, and let other people get involved in that if they wanted to.

But it all changed, as I say, on Wednesday. Mark phoned me up and said, “That’s [James and Richard returning] not going to happen, are you up for it?” At which point I said, “Can I think about it? I’ll call you back…”

I talked to Will [MacDonald] about it. Will and my wife were the only two people I told. We decided that what I do for a living is radio and television and a bit of writing, and it [Top Gear] is the biggest television show in the world. It’s my favourite television show of all time, you know how much of a fan I am of the show.

I love producing […] 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.

[…] Yesterday was a very interesting day. We decided we were going to announce it at 7.15[pm] on the BBC2 Twitter feed. We pressed the button […] and waited for our phones to melt, and that’s exactly what happened.

Before it was announced, I texted Jeremy and James and Richard and Andy [Wilman], and I’ve heard back from all of them.

James called me back straight away, within a minute of me texting him to have a chat, and we’re going to meet up today and tomorrow and talk about things. Who knows what might happen there?

And then Jeremy texted me. He said, “I knew they would. […] I knew you would, best of luck,” and gave me a piece of advice, which I’m not going to repeat on the radio, to be honest.

Then Richard texted me back […]. He said, “You were designed and built for that job and it’ll be great. It was also always the BBC’s very best option.”

[…] So there you go, that’s it. Now all I need to do is remember to breathe…

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