While filming for the first series of BBC motoring show Top Gear with its new line-up has been progressing, with the Guardian reporting that “The first episode … was filmed on Thursday and the format has been tweaked by the producers to give it a livelier feel with a hint of the atmosphere of Evans’ Channel 4 show TFI Friday, while Evans and co-star Matt LeBlanc compete to tell the best jokes”, the knocking copy keeps on coming.
The campaign against the programme, focused almost totally on spreading a variety of unpleasant smears and rumours about Evans, has been spearheaded by the Murdoch empire, with the role of shock troops taken by Heat Street, the website headed by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, and which is effectively an extension of her prejudices. Papers like the Sun then follow up the alleged “news”.
Until this week, there had not been any inkling of the ultimate objective of the attacks, although, as Zelo Street has pointed out, it was clear that the Murdoch doggies were hell-bent on vengeance for the BBC’s sacking of their man Jeremy Clarkson following an act of gross misconduct. But now Heat Street and Ms Mensch have let slip that their goal is to see the Beeb pull the plug on the show, something they hope to achieve this week.
First has come a Heat Street piece telling “The BBC has come under further pressure today to reveal how it has dealt with allegations of misconduct involving Top Gear presenter Chris Evans … For the second time in 10 days, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has sent a letter to BBC chief Lord Hall asking him to explain whether claims that Evans bullied two female BBC employees at Top Gear and Radio 2 are true”.
OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
Bridgen is a known rent-a-quote for the right-leaning. And he’s shown this newest branch of the Cosa Rupra his letter beforehand. “In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by Heat Street, Bridgen writes: ‘I trust that in view of your zero-tolerance approach to bullying, you can provide me with a full breakdown of how the BBC has examined these claims and what, if anything, it has done about them’”.
And what is Bridgen going to do about it? “I need to know this because I am intending to raise in the House of Commons shortly the matters I mentioned to you regarding Chris Evans and the BBC’s response to the various allegations about him. For the sake of completeness this should include your own explanation as BBC editor-in-chief”. Then there is an admission that this is a last desperate push before the new series starts.
The post conceded “The new series of Top Gear, presented by Evans and Matt LeBlanc, is due to start on Sunday on BBC2 and on BBC America on May 30”, before Ms Mensch Tweeted in anticipation “#ChrisEvans bullying claims reach Parliament - EXCLUSIVE will BBC have to cancel #TopGear?” It was, as I’ve said previously, always about trying to get the new series of Top Gear pulled before the TV audience saw it.
Once it’s broadcast, if the show is half decent, they’ll forget all about Jezza. My thanks to Louise Mensch for confirming that I was right all along.