Vernon Kay Has Another Terrible Week, With Plummeting 'Drive' Ratings

'Drive' was billed as ITV's answer to 'Top Gear'.

By all estimation, Vernon Kay should have been having a great month, guest-presenting ‘The One Show’ and then debuting his own brand new ITV driving contest series.

As we already know, the first part of this didn’t go strictly to plan, as the model-turned-presenter was forced to ditch his ‘One Show’ spot in the light of press allegations surrounding text messages between him and glamour model Rhian Sugden - a woman whose friendship put pressure six years ago on Vernon’s marriage to ‘Strictly’ presenter Tess Daly.

<strong>Vernon Kay will no doubt have hoped that 'Drive's debut would have shifted attention back to his work life</strong>
Vernon Kay will no doubt have hoped that 'Drive's debut would have shifted attention back to his work life

While Vernon swiftly moved to dampen speculation surrounding this business, spending time with his wife and going on holiday with his family, he will have been crossing fingers that the debut of his ITV primetime show would have successfully diverted attention from his personal life. And anyway, there's no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Alas, this gamble hasn’t paid off, as a reported 500,000 viewers deserted this week’s second episode of ‘Drive’. Following last week’s debut which drew 1.9million viewers, only 1.4million tuned in for this week’s second show - not great for a programme hyped as ITV’s answer to ‘Top Gear’.

Worse, it seems Vernon’s share of screen time is set to be cut, with the Sun reporting that his co-host, British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, will be given a bigger role in the proceedings from next week.

<strong>Vernon's co-host Jason Plato, right, has been praised by viewers</strong>
Vernon's co-host Jason Plato, right, has been praised by viewers

Critics have been swift to point out the terrible timing of the show’s launch, coinciding with its lead presenter’s fresh media turmoil.

However, it seems harsh for Vernon to take all the blame. The idea for the show isn’t a particularly unique or strong one, ie. putting a bunch of celebrities into cars for a series of races, seeing which of them can get round it the fastest, and sending the slowest one home. Keen-eyed viewers will notice more than a passing similarity to one of ‘Top Gear’s most popular segments.

‘Top Gear’ itself is due to return on 22 May, amid more rumours of tension between its two new co-hosts. More on that here…

25 March 2015
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The BBC announces Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed, following a fracas involving a cold dinner on location, and a punched producer. "A line has been crossed," said the BBC's statement.
24 April 2015
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Richard Hammond joins James May in confirming they won't be back either, the team comes as a trio.
16 June 2015
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The BBC reveals their Radio 2 breakfast show host Chris Evans will be leading the new team.
30 July 2015
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AmazonPrime reveals they’ve signed up Clarkson and co for an online motoring show, with a reported £10million/year package, with the series set to debut later in 2016.
28 November 2015
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Chris Evans reveals the show's debut date of 8 May, with an eight-episode series planned.
22 December 2015
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‘Top Gear’ producer Lisa Clark departs the team abruptly, saying she is to "pursue other projects", but wishes the team well.
23 December 2015
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She is swiftly followed out of the door by script editor Tom Ford.
4 February 2016
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Matt LeBlanc is confirmed as a fellow presenter.
11 February 2016
Rory Reid, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan all confirmed to join.
26 February 2016
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The BBC announces a fresh debut date of 22 May, with six episodes scheduled instead of eight.
19 January 2016
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BBC Two commissioner Kim Shillinglaw, who has been overseeing the relaunch of the show, announces she will be leaving her role. Due to a re-organisation at the BBC, there will be no one to replace her, meaning Chris Evans will report directly to the Controller of Channels, Jane Moore.
10 February 2016
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Matt LeBlanc confirms that he has signed to a US sitcom 'I'm Not Your Friend', leading to concern that he may have stretched himself too thin for 'Top Gear' duties.
13 March 2016
Veterans complain about the ‘Top Gear’ team filming stunts, creating donut turns and speed dust, in London’s Whitehall, with shots including footage of the country’s most revered war memorial, the Cenotaph.
14 March 2016
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Chris Evans makes a public apology for the team’s actions, while adding, “This isn't a shoot I'm particularly involved in." And takes to wearing pyjamas to work.
31 March 2016
The show releases its first trailer. Many respond that the footage has become too Americanised, and they miss Jeremy.
12 April 2016
The show receives a major boost with news that streaming service Netflix has bought rights to distribute the show internationally, thus bringing the new series to a potential 75 million subscribers.
13 April 2016
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The atmosphere on set is said to be “frosty” following Chris Evans’ continuing fury over the Cenotaph stunt.
Apart from that...
It's all been smooth sailing. We wait for 22 May with bated breath.

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