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Christopher James "Chris" Evans (born 1 April 1966) is an English presenter and producer for radio and television.

Life and career

Early life

Evans was born in Warringtonmarker, Englandmarker, and is the youngest child of bookmaker Martin Joseph Evans (12 November 1921 - 25 April 1979, died of colon cancer), and Minnie, who managed a corner shop. He has an older brother David (b. 1953) and older sister Diane (b. 1963).

After the death of his father, the 13-year-old Evans took part-time work in one of the chain of T. J. & B. McLoughlin's tobacconists and newsagents in Woolstonmarker, and ran an alternative tuck-shop at Padgate High Schoolmarker.

After leaving Padgate at aged 16, Evans had a number of dead-end jobs in and around his native Warringtonmarker, including a private detective agency and notoriously as a "Tarzan-ogram."

Early career

Having had previous unpaid school-boy work at Manchestermarker Piccadilly Radio., Evans started his professional broadcasting career at the station in 1983. Until 1984 Evans had three jobs: as an assistant to Timmy Mallett, and playing a character on his show called 'Nobby Nolevel' ('No 'O' Level'); acting as a disc jockey in the evenings at local pubs when he was not at Piccadilly Radio; and still working in the newsagents, opening up daily at 05:00 to sort out the newspaper deliveries.

After going full-time at the station in 1984, Evans would be driven around the Manchester area in the radio car to turn up at listeners' houses. In addition he was producer to the presenter James H. Reeve on the station. Following this he presented a weekday graveyard slot with competitions such as 'What’s my gadget' and gave listeners opportunities to sell their belongings on air. He was then offered a Saturday afternoon show and then the weekday evening show, until he was fired in 1987 for gross misconduct.

After working as a producer on Richard Branson's service The Superstation, where he produced material for Jonathan Ross, Evans went on to work at the BBC London radio station GLR, first as a producer on Emma Freud's mid-morning show, and then Weekend Breakfast with Danny Baker. Evans became a presenter on the station in early 1990, taking over a Saturday afternoon show. Three months later, he started presenting the Monday to Thursday evening show, entitled The Greenhouse, which went out from 19:30 to 22:00; he remained on this slot until the end of 1990.

In early 1991, due to his first regular TV hosting work presenting the Power Up breakfast show on The Power Station for British Satellite Broadcasting, Evans' radio work moved to presenting Round At Chris's, every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, which he continued to present until April 1993.

Rise to popularity

In addition to his Saturday morning show on GLR, in March 1992 Evans began presenting a Sunday afternoon show on BBC Radio 1, replacing Phillip Schofield who had previously broadcast in the slot. His show called Too Much Gravy, was broadcast from 14:30 to 16:00 and ended in September 1992. His move to Radio 1 was short-lived but seen as a huge success, with controller Johnny Beerling later admitting he wished he'd offered Evans a full-time show there and then. At the time, however, Evans objected that Radio 1 had tried to constrain his style, preventing him from using the "zoo" format, allegedly because Steve Wright was already doing that on the station.

In April 1993, Evans left GLR and joined Virgin Radio as part of its original line up to host a Saturday morning show called The Nescafé big red mug show. He was paid £30k per annum to present this show but left after only three months to pursue his TV career, not to return until 1997.

The Big Breakfast

His departure from Radio 1 was in part so he could devote his time to the new Channel 4 breakfast television show, The Big Breakfastmarker, from 28 September 1992. Evans, along with co-host Gaby Roslin, was an unqualified success in the slot, which brought him national celebrity status and considerable acclaim.

Evans left The Big Breakfast on 29 September 1994 and formed his own television production company, Ginger Productions. Its first major programme, Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, was broadcast between 1994 and 1995. The original concepts proved to be lucrative for Evans as its format was sold to numerous foreign broadcasters, building up Evans' personal fortune.

Radio 1 breakfast show

In April 1995, Evans re-joined radio to host the flagship Radio 1 Breakfast Show. Evans negotiated into his contract with Radio 1 a clause allowing him to still make television programmes, and specifically an option to make a Friday night programme for Channel 4. This allowed him after a period specifically not to have to attend post-show production meetings on a Friday.

Allowed to create the "zoo" format he had previously been banned from performing on Radio 1, Evans was treated with kid gloves by his friend, Radio 1 controller Matthew Bannister. Critics hated innuendo-laden features like Honk Your Horn and In Bed With Your Girlfriend, but Evans put on 600,000 new listeners over Simon Mayo - one for every £5 spent on salary and advertising. The effect also flowed through into the listening figures for later programs. The audience grew as the breakfast format became more outrageous: humiliating assistant Holly Samos by repeatedly asking her about her sex life (Evans and Samos were reportedly in a relationship at periods through their time working together), and encouraging two female guests to perform a strip show on live radio. The shows highest listening figure reached 7.5million.

Evans began making editions of Channel 4's TFI Friday from 1996. The show - devised, produced and hosted by Evans through his Ginger Media company - combined celebrity interviews, musical guests and daft games and competitions. Largely based on the successful formula of his radio show, it was initially a big success during a period when anything Evans touched turned to gold. However, as the success of both shows peaked, combined with a string of celebrity relationships and highly publicised nights drinking with friends Danny Baker and footballer Paul Gascoigne, the strain began to show, and a model emerged described as a "template for his approach to all his subsequent projects - an abundance of enthusiasm at the beginning which eventually falls prey to boredom and shiftlessness."

Beginning to think he was indispensable at Radio 1, the first big falling-out with management came in December 1995 after taking his crew out on a 17 hour pub-crawl which ended two hours before they were due on air: Evans was fined one day's pay, £7,000. In 1996, broadcasting watchdogs investigated a continual trail of complaints against the show: Radio 1 refused to comment, Evans never said sorry. Evans also made increasing public demands of the Radio 1 management: after taking an extra week of unplanned holiday, Evans chose to turn up half an hour late for his 06:30 show and then demanded that his hours were changed so that it was a permanent fixture - this request was accepted.

However after the summer break things got decidedly worse. Criticised by the broadcasting watchdog for a tasteless joke about Holocaust victim Anne Frank, Evans countered with an item about haemorrhoids. Asked by Bannister to watch the rules, Evans the next day branded Bannister "The Fat Controller." In November, Evans announced on air that he was medically unfit to be on the radio - Bannister re-negotiated his contract to double his holiday to twice that of other Radio 1 DJs. After more publicised public drinking and self-confessed illness; Evan's spell at the station ended in January 1997, when he quit after his demand not to host the show on Friday, in order to have a full day getting ready for his TV show, wasn't accepted.

The Radio 1 breakfast show was taken over by Mark and Lard a.k.a. Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley. When Evans found out that they were a ratings disaster, he quickly got in touch with BBC Radio 1 management to ask whether he could take back the show again. Station management declined but did offer him a weekend slot, which he turned down. In response to the falling ratings, bosses decided to replace its presenters with the relatively unknown Kevin Greening and the well known children's TV presenter Zoë Ball. Their tenure was due to start on 13 October 1997.

Virgin Radio

Evans was then hired by Virgin Radio to host its breakfast show, prompting an immediate upsurge in listening figures to the station 1.8 million to 2.6 million. His first show was on 13 October 1997, the same day as Kevin Greening and Zoë Ball on Radio 1. Starting at 7:00 am, Evans’ crew presented the show from Monday to Friday, but without Evans participating on a Friday.

As Sir Richard Branson had decided to reduce his media holding, he began talks to sell the station to Capital Radio in a deal that would have given him 10% of holding company Capital Group. As this became public knowledge, Evans, who did not want to work for Capital, publicly dismissed them as "a bleating, blowing asthmatic dog." On 9 December, with the assistance of investors, Evans’ vehicle Ginger Media Group bought Virgin Radio from Branson for £85m, to control the interests both of Ginger Productions and Virgin Radio. Both Apax Partners and Branson each owned 20% of Ginger Media Group, while Evans and his investors owned the remaining 60%. The group later engaged in the prospect of buying the Daily Star newspaper, but decided against from commercial angles.

During the last quarter of 1999, Evans ran separate quizzes on his radio show and on TFI Friday, both called Someone's Going To Be A Millionaire! (a reference to the very popular TV game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). The million-pound prize was awarded on radio on 17 December and on television on 24 December, the first million-pound prizes awarded on either medium in the UK. The distinction of being the first quizmaster to give away a million-pound prize is often erroneously ascribed to Chris Tarrant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? , however Evans was in fact first by more than ten months.

Both the Radio 1 breakfast show and its Virgin Radio successor introduced the audience to Evans' loyal production team, all of whom were encouraged to play speaking roles in the shows. This led to producer John Revell and engineer Dan McGrath presenting the Virgin show during Evans' absence, while researcher Holly Samos earned a contract to model underwear.

Sale of GMG - dismissal and legal cases

On 14 March 2000 Evans agreed the sale of Ginger Media Group to SMG plc for £225m. The sale made Evans the highest paid entertainer in the UK in 2000, estimated by the Sunday Times Rich List to have been paid around £35.5million. Following poor reviews of TFI Friday, and Evans himself handing over presentation of the last series to a series of "friends", the show was cancelled in December 2000.

Evans continued to host the station's breakfast show, but echoes of his earlier dismissal from Radio 1 began to emerge. In May 2000, the station was fined £75,000 (then the largest penalty imposed by the Radio Authoritymarker) for his repeated on-air endorsement of Ken Livingstone in the London mayoral elections. Virgin Radio's new programme controller Paul Jackson, in light of audience figures which had dropped from a peak of 2.7 million to 1.7 million, had pruned Evans's "zoo" team and installed a music policy which replaced more eclectic choices with a strict diet of chart pop. As a result, on 20 June Evans was followed throughout the day by tabloid newspaper photographers, and undertook an "18-hour bender" which started after his show at 9.30 in the morning, and ended - after numerous pints of Kronenbourg and Guinness, plus five bottles of Dom Pérignon - with Evans asleep in front of a lap-dancer at Stringfellows. Later photographed by the tabloids that week with new wife Billie Piper in the nearest pub to their home in Hascombemarker, Surreymarker while claiming he was too ill to present his show , he was dismissed on 28 June 2001 for repeatedly failing to arrive at work. Evans was replaced by the older Steve Penk, whom Evans criticised for his age - 39 versus Evans's then 35.

Evans attempted to sue Virgin Radio, claiming that he was unfairly dismissed and denied share options worth £8.6 million. On 26 June 2003, in the judgement of Evans v SMG Television Ltd. & Ors 2003 EWHC 1423 (Ch), Justice Lightman found that he had been fairly dismissed and was not entitled to the share options. Giving his ruling at the High Courtmarker, Evans was publicly criticised for his attitude by the judge, who said of Evans: "He has the temperament of a prima donna." Virgin Radio/SMG later countersued, with Evans ordered to pay £1m towards their legal costs.

UMTV

In August 2002 Chris Evans set up a radio and television production company, UMTV, with the aim of specialising in live, cutting-edge, entertainment programming. Over the next 3 years UMTV produced more than 375 hours of television, with mixed success. TV shows included Boys and Girls hosted by Vernon Kay for Channel4, Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot for Channel 4 / E4; OFI Sunday for ITV; Live With Christian O'Connell and Live With Chris Moyles for Five; and the BAFTA award-winning School of Hard Knocks for 4 Learning.

Following two high-profile shows which failed to perform in the ratings, UMTV hired Terry Wogan and Evans' former Big Breakfast co-host Gaby Roslin to host a weekday morning magazine show, Terry & Gaby. Evans said publicly that if this show failed he would set up a market stall. Despite critical acclaim the audience numbers never took off and Channel 5 axed the show after its year-long run, citing its high cost as a reason. True to his word, Evans was pictured at the end of the final show with a market stall and later he opened it for real at Stables Market, Camdenmarker.

More recently the company has expanded to include a factual entertainment department and launched its first advertiser-funded programming.

Radio 2

Evans re-entered public life in early 2005, presenting the breakfast slot of UK Radio Aid’s day of programming for the victims of the Asian Tsunamimarker, which was aired on most of the UK's commercial radio stations, and also The BRIT Awards in 2005 and 2006. From April 2005, Evans presented a number of one-off Bank Holiday shows for BBC Radio 2, including coverage of the Live 8 concert in London.

Saturday afternoon show

Evans then joined Radio 2 on a permanent basis in September 2005, presenting a weekly Saturday afternoon show from 14:00 to 17:00. His first show featured singer Robbie Williams, and accompanied by a posse including friend "Big" Pete Winterbottom and newsreader Andrew Peach. Evans told listeners to his first show: "We've had a couple of test drives over the summer and we've decided to take it. Yes, we like this vehicle."

Move to Drivetime

The show was well received by listeners and critics, and Evans was announced as the successor to Radio 2's Drivetime show on Thursday 2 March 2006 to succeed long-time host Johnnie Walker, beginning on 18 April. His arrival in the slot saw more than 1,000 listeners complain, resulting in the station's controller Lesley Douglas issuing a statement in response saying that Evans should be given a chance. RAJAR audience figures published in August 2006 showed Evans had 150,000 fewer listeners than his predecessor's last show but was on par with previous years. The second set of RAJAR's published in October 2006 showed his audience was up by 109,000 year-on-year, and up by 33,000 compared with the previous quarter. Figures showed he was drawing an average audience of 4.9 m a day on his drivetime show. By the end of 2007, the show was averaging over 5m listeners. On 7 September 2009 it was announced that Evans would take over the breakfast show from Sir Terry Wogan after Wogan announced his intention to leave the show at the end of the year. He will take over the Breakfast Show on 11 January 2010.

Sony Music Radio Personality of the Year

In May 2006, Evans was named music radio personality of the year at the annual Sony Radio Academy Awards, defeating rivals Jamie Theakston, Lauren Laverne, Marc Riley and Tim Lovejoy to win. When accepting the award, Evans thanked the BBC for giving him "a second chance." Evans won 'music radio personality' the following year, while his show won the Entertainment award. "I didn't expect this," he said. "I wouldn't have minded if I didn't win, but I really love the fact I have won." Evans was voted the 82nd most influential media personality in The Guardian newspapers 2007 pool.

Return to television

In November and December 2005 he presented OFI Sunday on ITV. In a move described by Private Eyemarker as Partridgean, ex-wife Billie Piper was the first guest on the programme. OFI Sunday was cancelled after just five shows following poor reviews and low viewing figures. Its cancellation led Evans to complain on air during his Saturday BBC Radio 2 slot that he no longer knew how to be successful on television.

Evans has also provided the voice of rock star Lennie Lazenby in the children's animated series Bob the Builder.

On Sunday November 29th 2009, Evans was featured as the "Star in the Reasonably Priced Car" on the BBC's Top Gear.

Personal life

Evans has a daughter, Jade (born 1986), by former girlfriend Alison Ward. In 1998 after a long running dispute, the couple reached an out of court arrangement whereby Evans provided a home for his child and an allowance to Ward.

Evans married Carol McGiffin in 1991; but their 1994 split was not amicable and McGiffin has been scathing about Evans in newspaper articles in the years since; they were divorced in 1997. During his time at BBC Radio 1 and Virgin, Evans had well publicised relationships with Kim Wilde, model Rachel Tatton-Brown (whose sister was a researcher on The Big Breakfast), assistant producer Suzi Aplin, Anthea Turner, Geri Halliwell, and Melanie Sykes. After meeting teenage pop star Billie Piper, and after she proposed on his 35th birthday, the couple married in a £200 ceremony at The Little Church of the Westmarker in Las Vegasmarker on 6 May 2001; attended by six guests including best man Danny Baker. In September 2004, news stories circulated regarding a trial separation - Evans at the time had a stall at Camden Marketmarker, where he was found selling furniture and paintings from his London and Los Angeles homes, commenting: "I just want to get rid of it all, it's just a headache." In Spring 2005, it was confirmed that Evans and Piper would divorce, and, with Piper publicly stating that she would take no money from Evans, it is believed to have been an amicable split. Almost three years after they had separated, Evans and Piper finally divorced in May 2007, but have remained on good terms.

A fanatical golfer who plays with a handicap of 15, Evans met professional golfer, part-time model and columnist for Golf Punk magazine Natasha Shishmanian when they became golf partners in the All*Star Cup celebrity tournament in Newportmarker - Evans gave his 17-year-old caddy at the event, Natalie Harrison, a £10,000 Russian Kristall Smolensk diamond he won for the quality of his play. Evans married Shishmanian in a London Register office on Saturday 11 August 2007, and held a reception in Faro, Portugal the following weekend, attended by ex-wife Piper.

On 17 July 2008, the DJ announced that the couple were expecting their first baby together. Their son, Noah Nicolas Martin was born on 10 February 2009 at London's Portland Hospitalmarker.

In March 2008 after playing a round of golf with rockstar Meat Loaf, Evans admitted in his Radio 2 blog that he had taken "magic mushrooms" at the rock star's later concert at the Royal Albert Hallmarker.

A fan of fast cars, and particularly Ferrarismarker, Evans was banned from driving for 56 days in 2001 and fined £600 after admitting to a speeding charge at Stainesmarker Magistrates' Court after being stopped by Surrey Police when racing at 105 mph on the A3 road in Eshermarker in January 2001. In 2005 Evans crashed his silver 575M Maranello into a verge near his then Surrey home. On 18 May 2008, Evans attended RM Auctions/Sotheby's Ferrarimarker auction in Maranellomarker, Italymarker, and bought a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder (formerly owned by US actor James Coburn) for the world record price of 6.4 Million Euros (€7,040,000 including fees, the highest price ever paid for a car at auction).

In August 2002 Evans was a member of crew aboard the sailing yacht Nausicaa with six other people, when James Ward - landlord of the White Horse in Hascombemarker, Surrey, which was then Evans' local - drowned in an accident in the Solentmarker. In September 2007, Evans and Shishmanian started helicopter lessons at Shoreham Airportmarker, with Evans gaining his helicopter Private Pilots Licence in January 2008, and now owns a Robinson R44.

Chris Evans is also related to Scottish Rugby internationals Thom Evans and Max Evans.

Shows hosted

The following is a list of the main shows Evans has presented:

Television



Radio

  • Piccadilly Radio, Saturday afternoons & weekday evenings (1986–1987)
  • BBC GLR, Saturday afternoons, 3–5 pm (1990)
  • BBC GLR, The Greenhouse, Mondays–Thursdays, 7:30–10 pm (1990)
  • BBC GLR, Round at Chris's, Saturdays, 10 am–1 pm (1991–1993)
  • BBC Radio 1, Too Much Gravy, Sundays, 2:30pm–4 pm (1992)
  • Virgin Radio, Saturday mornings, 10 am–1 pm (1993)
  • BBC Radio 1, Weekday Breakfast Show, 6:30–9 am (1995–1997)
  • Virgin Radio, Weekday Breakfast Show, 6–10 am (1997–2001)
  • BBC Radio 2, Good Friday afternoon, 2–5 pm (2005)
  • BBC Radio 2, Easter Monday afternoon, 2–5 pm (2005)
  • BBC Radio 2, May Day Bank Holiday, 2–5 pm (2005)
  • BBC Radio 2, Whitsun Bank Holiday, 2–5 pm (2005)
  • BBC Radio 2, Saturday afternoons, 2–5 pm (2005–2006)
  • BBC Radio 2, Weekday Drivetime Show, 5–7 pm (2006–18 December 2009)
  • BBC Radio 2, Weekday Breakfast Show, 7:00–9:30 am (From 11 January 2010)


References

  1. Births, Marriages & Deaths Index, England and Wales
  2. BBC - Radio Two - Chris Evans


External links




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