Chris Evans has said the new series of TFI Friday will be his last but denied the Channel 4 show would hamper his attempt to reinvent BBC2’s Top Gear, saying he had “never been busier but never had more spare time”.
Evans said he had mellowed since his days presenting the Radio 1 breakfast show in the 1990s, the last time he combined a BBC radio breakfast show with the Channel 4 Friday night hit.
Giving a glimpse, perhaps, of how he will approach the task of replacing Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, Evans said he would like to be spikier but was confined by the limits of his Radio 2 breakfast show.
“I would love to be spikier, I would love to be a bit edgier sometimes but that’s not my job at the moment,” he told the Radio Festival at the British Library on Tuesday.
“Warmth is hugely important in mass entertainment. I am not flying a Spitfire, I am flying an Airbus 380 and we can’t do loop the loops. We have to get everyone across safely.”
Evans said the first two episodes of TFI Friday had already been written and said Channel 4 would give him a break from the show four episodes into its 10-part run to work on the BBC’s Children in Need.
“This is the long goodbye, I am not allowed to do any more TFI Friday,” said Evans, describing Top Gear as a “completely different beast” to the Channel 4 show.
“Top Gear is not on until May, that’s seven months, three days and 18 hours…” he joked.
“The thing about Top Gear is a lot of it is filmed, pre-filmed, there isn’t anything else in Top Gear. If you look at the last few series it wasn’t anything else, it was four links and three VTs.”
He said he had asked Top Gear producers how Clarkson and his former co-presenters, Richard Hammond and James May, had made the BBC2 show.
“I was asking them about the last incumbents and how they went about things, which was quite interesting to say the least,” he said.
Evans, who has been reported to want Top Gear to be broadcast live, alongside its pre-recorded films, said live television was quicker because it only took as long to make as it was broadcast on air.
Asked by BBC presenter Paddy O’Connell if he was “going to explode” with all his new commitments, Evans said: “It may or may not be true, I honestly do think time is in the mind. You always find the time to do what you want to do, what you need to do.
“I do think now I am busier than I have ever been but I have never had more spare time because I am more organised. Before I did the whole Alice Cooper thing where you have to live the life to portray the life, you don’t really have to do that.”
As an example of his work ethic, Evans said he had got up at 2am on Tuesday to write the last chapter of his latest book and had written half an episode of TFI Friday before turning his attention to his Radio 2 breakfast show at 5am.
He said he had never been happier on television than with his recent TFI Friday 20th birthday special, which led to a new series of the C4 show.
“That was the happiest I have ever been on television. A lot of the time when we were doing TFI Friday we were literally flying by the seat of our pants, it was hell to live through. With the [anniversary edition] of TFI we knew we had a golden programme to present, we were more relaxed so we could go and enjoy it.”
On the new series of Top Gear Evans said the films and stunts had top be spectacular. “We can’t do anything a kid can do in his bedroom because otherwise he’s not going to go ‘TV is great’. You have to do extraordinary things.”
Asked if he expected Jeremy Clarkson to congratulate him in the style that Terry Wogan sent his best wishes after succeeding him on Radio 2, Evans said: “That’s a far better question than any answer I could possibly come up with. Let’s just leave it at the question.”
This article was written by John Plunkett, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 29th September 2015 11.33 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010