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BBC confirms Chris Evans to lead new Top Gear line-up

CHRIS Evans has signed a three-year deal to lead a new presenting line-up on Top Gear, the BBC has confirmed.

The BBC Radio 2 and One Show presenter and motoring enthusiast had been hotly-tipped to replace Jeremy Clarkson following Clarkson's sacking by the BBC in March.

Initially, Evans had played down the speculation, telling listeners to his morning radio show: "Not only is it not true, it's absolute nonsense", adding that it was "never going to happen".

However, a BBC statement confirmed that Evans, who had Clarkson as a guest on a recent special 20th anniversary edition of TFI Friday on Channel 4, would indeed be taking the helm with filming starting in the next few weeks.

Evans said: "I'm thrilled, Top Gear is my favourite programme of all time. 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.

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

Following the confirmation, Evans tweeted to assure fans that his BBC Radio 2 slot is not in jeopardy, and to praise former presenters Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC Two, said Evans is the "perfect choice" to take the show forward, citing Evans' "well-known" knowledge and passion for cars, and his "sheer inventiveness and cheeky unpredictability".

It is unknown who will join Evans in the all-new line-up.

However, the announcement comes after DIY Sos presenter Nick Knowles revealed that he has been in talks with the BBC about joining the team.

Knowles told the Radio Times: "I'm a BBC regular and I've had conversations with people at the corporation about it

"But with all the work I've got on it's not something I can do at the moment.

"Getting the new team right is very important. And no, I won't speculate on who will get it!" he said.

Earlier this year, Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins was forced to quit Twitter after she was targeted by trolls amid rumours she would join the Top Gear presenting team.

Former X Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary, and model Jodie Kidd are also household names rumoured to be in the running.

Fans of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will get one last chance to see them in action on the show when they drive off later this month in a farewell appearance screened on BBC2.

The previously unseen footage, which was put on hold after Clarkson hit the headlines for "a fracas" with producer Oisin Tymon, will feature in a one-off 75 minute show on Sunday June 28.

Viewers will see Clarkson, Hammond and May behind the wheel of classic cars and beaten-up 4x4s in their final challenges as a trio.

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