Entertainment

It's been a quiet day: Lord Hall jokes as he unveils new series of Top Gear

The motoring show turns 43 this year.

Lord Hall joked that it had been a “really quiet day” as he unveiled the new series of Top Gear, hours after announcing he is standing down as the BBC’s director-general.

The 68-year-old revealed his decision in a message to BBC staff on Monday, saying he would remain in the role for the next six months.

He spoke in London’s Leicester Square on Monday evening, at the world premiere of the new series of Top Gear, joking: “Well, it’s been a really quiet day so far, nothing much happening.

“So I am thrilled to be with the noisy Top Gear team here tonight.”

Lord Hall thanked those who make the BBC Two series, adding: “It’s hard to believe that Top Gear is 43 this year.

“It’s a show that’s never really grown up and I hope it never does.

“We all know what Top Gear is at its best, we’ve just seen it.”

He also paid tribute to the show’s “amazing” presenters Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff.

Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris at the premiere
Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris at the premiere (David Parry/PA)

He said: “When I first met them some time ago I thought, ‘you guys are just going to do it and you are going to be absolutely world-beating’ – and you are.

“Sabine (Schmitz) is here tonight as well, who is such a big part of the Top Gear family. To all of you, thank you.

“We are all completely knocked out by what the team has achieved in just one series.

“There is amazing chemistry and you can sense it. That chemistry comes through the screen to you.

“With Paddy, Freddie and Chris at the wheel, no matter what goes wrong they’ve always got each other’s backs. I think that is what people really respond to.”

The Stig in Leicester Square
The Stig in Leicester Square (David Parry/PA)

Lord Hall said Top Gear was BBC Two’s most popular programme last year, especially with younger audiences, and that it was in the top four TV programmes for 16 to 34-year-olds every week.

“Isn’t that brilliant? That’s really, really good,” he said.

“And the show continues to reach 150 countries worldwide. It is a big global hit.”

Guests at the premiere saw the opening episode of the latest series, which culminated in a 500ft car bungee jump off a Swiss dam with Flintoff strapped inside.

Attendees were also treated to some highlights from the upcoming six-part season, including Harris racing the £2.5 million McLaren Speedtail against the RAF’s newest £100 million fighter jet, and the trio navigating a high-altitude mountain expedition across Peru in second-hand American cars.

Top Gear series 28 starts on Sunday January 26 at 8pm on BBC Two.

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