Chris Evans backs TFI Friday return after 3.7m watch special

Star says future of show is ‘in Channel 4’s hands’, although there would be issues over his role presenting BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show and The One Show

Chris Evans wants TFI Friday to come back full time after the one-off return of the Channel 4 show was watched by nearly 4 million viewers, which could prove a big headache for the BBC.

The music and talk show, back a year early for its 20th anniversary last Friday, had 3.7 million viewers, an 18% share of the audience, beating every other channel.

Evans is keen on bringing the show back for a full series and it is understood he has already had preliminary talks with Channel 4. He said the future of the show was “in Channel 4’s hands”.

But any return of TFI Friday would be problematic for the BBC, where Evans already presents the Friday night edition of BBC1’s teatime magazine programme, The One Show.

It also remains to be seen how Evans, one of the BBC’s highest-paid stars, would fit in a weekly edition of TFI Friday with his presenting duties on his Radio 2 breakfast show, which has nearly 10 million listeners a week.

Evans’ presenting and producing duties on TFI Friday clashed with his BBC commitments in the 1990s, when he asked for Fridays off from his Radio 1 breakfast show to work on the Channel 4 series.

The disagreement and subsequent bust-up led to his departure from the BBC.

Channel 4 has not yet commissioned a full series of TFI Friday but industry sources described it as a “no-brainer”.

And it was Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt who gave Evans the Friday evening gig on The One Show when she was BBC1 controller five years ago.

Evans said on Monday he could not sleep “because I’m too excited about a show I’ve already done. This has never happened before.”

Mad. Can't sleep because I'm too excited about of a show I've already done. This has never happened before. What do I do about this one ?

— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) June 15, 2015

He said on Twitter: “Old telly is the new telly. New telly looks old. Old telly looks new. Go figure.”

Evans added: “Future of TFI in C4’s hands” and urged his followers to tweet the station with their appreciation of the show.

Right, bed. After two 4 a.m. Finishes in a row. TFi album now number one on i Tunes. Hilarious. Future of TFi in C4's hands. Tweet them LMK

— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) June 14, 2015

Its return was generally warmly received by critics and viewers on Twitter, although there were complaints that its latter stages, including Evans’ much-anticipated “Top Gear film” with Jeremy Clarkson and an interview with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, dragged on a bit.

Friday’s return featured Blur, a duet between Liam Gallagher and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, and guests including Amanda Seyfried, Ewan McGregor, Rita Ora, Tom Daley and current Radio 1 breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw.

Jeremy Chris Evans and Chris Evans on TFI Friday

The show overran its 90-minute slot by around 20 minutes on Friday, with an average audience of 3.7 million viewers from 9pm and a five-minute peak of 4.2 million.

Evans said the audience was “over twice what we ever got ‘back in the day’” and said consolidated ratings, including people who had recorded it and watched it later, had already topped 5 million.

Celebrating by driving his Aston Martin DB5 to Radio 2 on Monday, Evans said he had “never ever had such a reaction to anything I’ve done in my career … It was so enjoyable to do, family and friends is all you need”.

Morning ! She says.

— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) June 15, 2015

TFI Friday had more than double the 1.8 million who watched ITV’s Doc Martin repeat, and nearly twice as many as the 2.1 million who saw another drama repeat, New Tricks, at the same time on BBC1.

It proved the enduring popularity of the show, which began in 1996 and last aired with a series of guest presenters after Evans’ premature exit in 2000. A key test for Channel 4 will be whether it managed to appeal to a new generation of viewers, as well as those who remembered it from first time around.

Evans added: “So much we wanted to include in Friday’s TFI but didn’t have time. Looking back, could easily have filled three hours.”

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said the show was commissioned as a one-off and there were currently no plans for a full series.


John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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