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Chris Evans to replace Jeremy Clarkson as BBC's Top Gear host

Chris Evans: "Thrilled"

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans will replace Jeremy Clarkson as the lead presenter of an all-new Top Gear line-up, the BBC has announced.

Evans said he was "thrilled" to get the job. He said the motoring show was his "favourite programme of all time".

"I promise I will do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone on before and take the show forward," he added.

Clarkson was dropped in March after punching a producer while on location. Although Evans then denied any interest in the job, he was tipped by Betfair to take over.

Evans, a car enthusiast , has signed a three-year deal with the BBC Two show.

The BBC said Clarkson's co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May would not be involved.

Top Gear is watched by some 350 million viewers worldwide and is one of the BBC's biggest shows, with overseas sales worth an estimated £50m a year.

Once the news broke, Evans tweeted: "First tweet as new Top Gear host. I would like to say Jeremy, Richard & James are the greatest. And NO I'm not leaving the R2 Breakfast Show."

Evans said the programme was "created by a host of brilliant minds who love cars and understand how to make the massively complicated come across as fun, devil-may-care and effortless".

"When in fact of course, it's anything but and that's the genius of Top Gear's global success," he added.

Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four Kim Shillinglaw said: "I am so delighted that Chris will be presenting the next series of Top Gear.

"His knowledge of and passion for cars are well-known and combined with his sheer inventiveness and cheeky unpredictability, he is the perfect choice to take our much-loved show into the future.

"Chris is a huge fan of Top Gear and has great respect for the craft and work ethic of one of the best production teams in the world.

"He knows the phenomenal attention to detail it takes to make a single sequence of Top Gear, let alone a whole series. He is already full of brilliant ideas and I can't wait for him to get started."

Production on the new series of Top Gear will start in the next few weeks .