Chris Evans pokes fun at Jeremy Clarkson on first episode of revamped Top Gear

Top Gear

Chris Evans had a light-hearted dig at Jeremy Clarkson minutes after the revamped Top Gear was unveiled.

The much-loved motoring show returned to our screens tonight with Evans and former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc at the helm.

Previous frontman Clarkson was sacked for an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" on a producer, apparently over catering, and Evans could not resist bringing it up during his opening segment.

He introduced a group of people from an Indian restaurant and asked the audience what they thought they were doing there.

One person suggested they were there to prepare the food, and Evans said playfully: "By the way, we don't talk about catering on this show any more."

During the first episode, Evans, 50, visited a US Naval Base - better known as the home of Top Gun - where he raced a Dodge Viper ACR against a Corvette Z06.

LeBlanc, who is the first non-British host in the programme's 39-year history, went for a spin through the Moroccan desert in an Ariel Nomad.

The pair also braved the cold British weather as they raced from London to Blackpool in roofless Reliant Rialtos, and welcomed celebrity guests Gordon Ramsay and Jesse Eisenberg who took part in the new Star In A Rallycross Car part of the show.

Viewers were quick to slam the show on social media.

One tweeted: "Is it possible to axe a TV show half way through the first episode? #TopGear. We could watch something else for the next 30 minutes."

Much of the criticism was levelled at Evans' performance as host, with fans accusing him of shouting and being "too excitable".

US star LeBlanc, 48, escaped most of the barbs and some fans said that his segment with the Nomad was one of the few highlights.

Within minutes of the show starting there were calls to bring back Clarkson and his co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May.

The popular trio will be back with a new Amazon Prime motoring show called The Grand Tour, which will make its debut on the streaming service in the autumn.

TV presenter Carol Vorderman was among those to comment online.

She tweeted: "Sorry #TopGear ... switching off ... looking forward to the proper boys on @amazonprimenow soon ... night all xxx."