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Chris Evans named new 'Top Gear' host

Radio and TV presenter Chris Evans has signed a three-year deal and will begin filming in a few weeks.

FILE: British radio presenter Chris Evans (right) and British model Kelly Brook (C) are pictured on the trading floor as they attend BGC Partners’ Charity Day in London in 2011. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Television and radio presenter Chris Evans will host motoring show Top Gear, replacing Jeremy Clarkson, who was dropped in March after he physically attacked a producer, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said on Tuesday.

Evans has signed a three-year deal and will begin filming in a few weeks' time without Clarkson's co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May, the BBC said.

Evans, a car enthusiast, said he was thrilled to get the job in his "favourite programme of all time", the BBC reported.

"I promise I will do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone on before and take the show forward," Evans said.

Referring to the popular BBC Radio 2 show that he presents, he tweeted: "And NO I'm not leaving the R2 Breakfast Show".

The BBC confirmed in March that it had given Clarkson his marching orders after he was found guilty of punching a producer, reportedly because he had wanted steak, but was given cold meat instead.

He was suspended earlier in the month after he was involved in a 'fracas' with the producer.

Clarkson, who has generated both controversy and profits for Britain's publicly funded broadcaster, was already on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show.

A friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, Clarkson became the popular face of Top Gear by mixing a passion for cars with blunt banter and swagger that offended, among others, environmental groups, mental health charities and cyclists.

Clarkson was called before BBC bosses last year after a British newspaper reported he had been heard using the 'N-word' as he recited an old version of the rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe to choose between cars in filming two years earlier.

The 54-year old presenter later apologised for any offence caused by the reports about the use of the word.

Clarkson's co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond both said they would not return to the show as a result of his departure.

Despite, or even because, of years of controversy, however, Top Gear has become one of the BBC's most successful and lucrative programmes. It was even recognised by Guinness World Records as the most-watched factual television show of all time.

The show is shown in more than 200 countries and is watched by 350 million viewers worldwide with overseas sales worth about £50 million a year.