The deleterious rumours swarming around Chris Evans are undoubtedly driving the newly relaunched Top Gear's reputation into the ground. The motoring show, which is co-hosted by former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc, has been plagued with negative press involving feuds, diva-like behaviour and, most recently, bullying and sexual harassment claims against Evans.
The notion of 'all publicity is good publicity' may spring to mind. And since becoming the host of the BBC's much-loved show is a big job, perhaps heavy disparagement goes hand-in-hand with the role. Evans himself recently referred to Clarkson's string of controversies during his long-running stint on the show, claiming it was "bizarre" that he was "fired over his dinner" for punching a producer given the number of famous altercations he has slipped under the rug over the years.
The snowball effect to destruction commenced after the Cenotaph stunt, when LeBlanc was filmed zooming around the war memorial performing 'donuts' and subsequently leaving tyre marks around the monument.
Evans apologised on his Radio 2 Breakfast Show following the incident, claiming: "I think the images look so disrespectful. There are mitigating circumstances, but I unreservedly apologise. I saw the images for the first time this morning and I feel the same as everybody else."
Amid rumours of the radio host's disapproval of LeBlanc, new reports emerged of a row between the pair as Evans believed he'd tarnished the Top Gear brand following the distasteful stunt. A source told The Sun: "Since the Cenotaph, their relationship has deteriorated. Chris thinks Matt severely damaged the brand. Behind the scenes it's very frosty between them."
Arguments, fall-outs and audacious behaviour aside, Evans now finds himself in darker waters. As he takes on the challenge of filling Clarkson's boots, fresh anecdotes pop up like nasty spots in an uncontrollable breakout.
A former colleague of Evans as claimed that he flashed at her almost every day, grabbed her breasts and bullied her after she rejected his advances, The Sun reported. The experience was ignored by the 52-year-old's production team and the woman is now reliant on anti-depressants.
Evans' former business partner, John Revell, has also accused him of being a bully and has criticised the BBC for the "stunning hypocrisy" of not suspending the star. The revelation came after a BBC insider claimed that Evans recently reduced an employee to tears after shouting at her when he worked on The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 in the 1990s.
Revell said: "It doesn't surprise me. If this was anyone else, they'd have been suspended", the Mail Online has reported.
As well as the BBC defending Evans' behaviour, the host has spoken out against the allegations. He told the Sunday Mirror: "All these bullying claims and other allegations are just ridiculous." He added that the accusations amounted to a "witch-hunt".
Good publicity, bad publicity – whatever the public makes of it – the circulating tales of terror surrounding Evans have tarnished the Top Gear Brand, but whether it'll see the show break down is a story waiting to be written.