Chris Evans told off by BBC bosses for plugging TFI Friday on Radio 2

Presenter – who has also been criticised for excessively promoting Top Gear in his show – was warned under the rules for promoting commercial products

Chris Evans makes no shortage of references to Top Gear on his Radio 2 breakfast show, but the BBC has ruled the presenter was wrong to use the airwaves to promote another of his TV shows, Channel 4’s TFI Friday.

Evans made a string of references to TFI Friday on his Radio 2 show before its return for a new 10-part run last year following the success of an anniversary special.

He told listeners about stars who would be appearing on the Channel 4 show and joked with one breakfast show guest who was on to promote a BBC1 show because it aired at the same time as TFI.

The BBC said the cross-promotion was in breach of its editorial guidelines and could not be editorially justified because the show’s makers, who include Evans, look to make a profit from the sale of the programme to Channel 4.

The show’s return was overseen by Evans’s new production company, Zimple TFI Friday, in a three-way production with two other production outfits, Monkey Kingdom and Olga TV.

Evans was told at a meeting with senior BBC management that the references could not be editorially justified. He was also reminded of the “issues connected with commercial products” and their on-air reference.

The meeting followed a complaint by a listener about the references to the first of the new series of TFI Friday, which the listener said had been “inappropriately commercial”.

In a statement, the BBC said: “A viewer complained that Chris Evans’s references to the first of his upcoming series of TFI Friday on Channel 4 had been inappropriately promotional.

“As the producers of TFI Friday profit from its sale to Channel 4, it comes within the scope of the editorial guidelines dealing with references to commercial products, organisations and services.

“Contrary to those guidelines, the references to TFI Friday were largely promotional in character, and more numerous than was editorially justifiable.

“At a meeting following the finding, the management of BBC Radio spoke to Chris Evans about the issues connected with commercial products and the editorial justifications for mentioning them.”

TFI Friday returned for the first of a new 10-part series in October last year with 2.1 million viewers, after an overnight audience of 3.7 million watched the anniversary special last June.

Evans later said the new series of TFI Friday would be his last but denied it would hamper his efforts to reinvent Top Gear.

The BBC launched a robust defence of Chris Evans’s stewardship of Top Gear last month, saying any suggestion he has been unprofessional was “rubbish”.

Top Gear was attacked by the comedian Bob Mortimer last week, describing the BBC2 driving show as a “timebomb” and warned the corporation about “talent abusing their power.


John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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