CHRIS EVANS TO PRESENT TOP GEAR
BBC show's new presenter says Jeremy Clarkson wanted him to have the 'best of fortune', while Richard Hammond said he doesn't blame him for taking the part
Chris Evans, the fresh presenter of BBC2's Top Gear, has said he formerly "100%" ruled himself out of the occupation because he didn't want to be a "pawn in a chess game" involving Jeremy Clarkson.
The Radio 2 DJ said he was only offered the job last week but declared he had also had a text shortly after the Clarkson controversy blew up, from "somebody very high up at the BBC" asking whether he would be interested in the character.
Evans said he had contacted the fellow former presenters of the show as well as Clarkson Richard Hammond and James May, before Tuesday's statement that he was taking the function. Clarkson told him: "I knew you'd, best of fortune."
Evans told Radio 2 listeners he was offered the job just after Hammond and May had ruled themselves out of a return to the show without Clarkson.
Chris Evans revealed as new presenter of Top Gear
"Now I haven't ever been offered or had never been offered the Top Gear job before that," he said.
He said Linsey had told him that the scenario had changed because May and Hammond had ruled out themselves.
"Before that they were very much considering returning, the BBC had made an offer to them, I was conscious of that, I needed them to return as a buff. I honestly thought as a betting man that will occur."
"I didn't desire to be involved in bookies' chances, that is not what the situation needed. I had to get out of that insanity, let others get involved in that," he said.
Top Gear: Closing Jeremy Clarkson episode on 28 to air June
Evans said he said the three presenters responded by wishing him the best of luck with the job and accepted it, and instantly texted the three presenters to tell them he'd been offered the job.
"I knew you'd, and best of fortune", adding that "he gave me a bit of advice which I am not going to repeat on the radio to be honest".
And he disclosed he got the seal of approval of Hammond. In a text Hammond, told Evans: "You were designed and assembled for that occupation and it's going to be great. It was also consistently the very finest option should you take it up of the BBC, and I surely don't blame you for doing so. Best of luck. Richard."
Evans also hinted at a potential return for James May. "James called me back straight away. We had a chat, we're going to meet up tomorrow or today to talk about things. Who knows what might happen there?"
Evans said he will make 18 variants of Top Gear next year with all the series because of return to BBC2 in March or April.
He said he would not be leaving the breakfast show but the motoring series' rigorous shooting schedule will ask questions about his capability to combine both roles.
The last time Evans tried to combine a weekly TV show with a daily breakfast show was in the 1990s, which culminated in him requesting to take Fridays off to work on Channel 4's TFI Friday at Radio 1.
The disagreement with management and following bust up led to his departure from the BBC.
Radio 2 accountant Bob Shennan said: "Chris is as devoted to the Radio 2 breakfast show as he ever was. It is great news all round for the BBC."
Evans said he accepted the Top Gear job as it is "the biggest television show on earth and my favourite television show of all time".
"I adore making TV, you understand the kind of TV I love to produce, so I said yes. We had our first meeting about it on Friday and that was that."
He said Will MacDonald, his long-time collaborator on Channel 4's TFI Friday, with whom he reunited for the Channel 4 show's anniversary and his wife were the sole two folks who understood he was offered the role.