The new series of Top Gear has roared off the start line, with the latest presenting line-up leading the field on the night.
The launch, with hosts Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and racing driver Chris Harris had a peak audience of 2.8 million.
That made it BBC Two’s most-watched programme of the day. It was also the biggest audience for the motoring show in three series.
The 2.5 million average is an increase on the launch episode of the previous series, which was Friends star Matt LeBlanc’s final show and attracted an average of 1.9 million viewers.
Almost two-thirds of respondents to a Radio Times poll rated the new trio at four stars or above.
Former rugby player and sports pundit David Flatman said: “Well I thought Top Gear was a triumph.
“Just a lovely entertainment show with some real laughs.”
Postman Cefin Vaughan said: “I think Freddie Fintoff and Paddy McGuinness just saved Top Gear.”
BBC Two controller Patrick Holland said he was “delighted by the reaction to the new Top Gear”.