New Top Gear host Chris Evans has hit back at claims he is a bully, saying the allegations are “ridiculous”.
The presenter, who is at the helm of a team of six who will front the new version of the show, has been accused of being “out of control” by former colleagues.
But the star while denying the programme has already run into problems has told the Sunday Mirror that the accusations of bullying have hurt his family.
He said: “All these bullying claims and other allegations are just ridiculous.”
He described how he and wife Natasha and their two young children live a “normal life” in a small area and said the accusations amounted to a “witch hunt”.
Evans has been accused of bullying colleagues when he worked on The Big Breakfast in the 1990s.
His former radio sidekick John Revell claimed he was “out of control” and that BBC bosses were too scared to stand up to him.
Evans rejected these ideas. He said: “I’m not a bully. But of course if you sling enough mud, some will stick.
“Is it hurtful to see your wife — or your children —upset? Of course it is.”
The new series of programme, which Evans took over after Jeremy Clarkson was fired when he punched one of the show’s producers, has been plagued with controversy since filming got under way.
The BBC was accused of pandering to political correctness in the presenting line-up and disrespecting the war dead after Matt Le Blanc and rally driver Ken Block were pictured performing “doughnuts” around the Cenotaph in London.
The stunt caused an uproar, with Evans apologising and promising the footage would not be shown.
The new series is set to air at the end of May.
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