Should the BBC decide to scrap its long-running, hugely successful motoring show Top Gear, the U.K. broadcaster looks like it may struggle in the ratings.
After suspended the series last week following an incident involving its controversial host Jeremy Clarkson, the show’s replacement on Sunday evening lost almost 4 million viewers. According to The Guardian, a repeat of documentary Red Arrows: Inside the Bubble — about the famed U.K. aerobatics display team — attracted an audience of 1.3 million on BBC Two, almost 4 million lower than the 5.1 million who tuned in to watch Top Gear the previous week.
According to the Twitter account UK TV Ratings, which uses data from official ratings company BARB, the seven episodes of Top Gear shown so far in 2015 have been the seven most watched programs on BBC Two this year.
Meanwhile, Clarkson is due to be interviewed this week by the BBC regarding the “fracas” that allegedly saw him punch a Top Gear producer, with suggestions in the U.K. media that it was over catering.
Last week, it emerged that the host himself had called BBC TV director Danny Cohen following the incident to apologize. Cohen had previously stated that Clarkson — a hugely divisive figure — was on his “final warning.”
In his regular weekend column in tabloid newspaper The Sun, Clarkson hinted that his time with Top Gear might be drawing to a close, describing himself as a “dinosaur” and adding that there comes a day when you “wave goodbye to big monsters and move on.” More than 900,000, however, have signed an online petition asking for him to be reinstated.
The BBC has suspended the remaining two episodes of Top Gear‘s current season as it concludes its internal investigation.