Chris Evans Top Gear
The series relaunch attracted less viewers than the last seriesValery Hache/Getty

An underwhelming 4.4 million people tuned in to the relaunch of BBC Two's Top Gear. Overnight figures from the BBC reveal that Sunday night's programme saw a peak of 4.7 million, while the last series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May signed off with 5.8 million viewers. The final Top Gear show attracted 5.3 million viewers last June.

Evans said last week he would be 'disappointed' if the show attracted under 5 million viewers. "If we had to guess about the number of viewers we are going to get on Sunday night, you have got to say you would be disappointed if it was under 5 million. Five million-plus would be great, after that it doesn't matter," he said.

However, the show was still the most-watched programme in the 8pm timeslot, outshining on BBC One's Antiques Roadshow and ITV's British Soap Awards. Sunday night's show also trumped the programme's previous launched in 2002, which saw 3.5 million viewers.

New presenters Chris Evans and American actor Matt LeBlanc were signed up after the previous presenters left following a fracas between lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson and a producer. Clarkson was fired from Top Gear in March last year after he punched the producer over a catering dispute during a night shoot.

Co-hosts May and Hammond refused to continue on Top Gear without Clarkson.

Top Gear had been one of the BBC's biggest earning shows, raking in £50m each year and attracting the largest regular global audience for a show of its kind.

Evans made a jibe about the incident at the start of the episode, adding: "We don't make jokes about catering on this show any more." Evans made another joke referencing Clarkson's departure when he bragged about "winning custody" of masked driver The Stig.

The revamp featured many of the same elements the show is best known for, including a profile of a supercar and a head-to-head challenge between the presenters.However the relaunched show was widely criticised on social media.

Chris Evans 'shouting' through debut

Between criticisms that the new show was a 'borefest' lacking any chemistry between its hosts, was the rather common complaint that Chris Evans was speaking several decibels too high to be enjoyed or tolerated.

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