Belfast Telegraph

Vernon Kay's sexting scandal Drives him off screen

Vernon Kay's screen time on ITV show Drive is set to be cut after the scandal surrounding his texts to model Rhian Sugden reportedly affected viewing figures

Vernon Kay's screen time on show Drive is reportedly set to be cut.

The 41-year-old presenter fronts the new ITV show alongside British Touring Car champion Jason Plato. While the first episode of the show saw 1.9 million viewers tune in, Tuesday night's episode only had 1.5 million viewers.

It's thought the recent scandal surrounding married Vernon's alleged flirty text messages to model Rhian Sugden may have affected viewing figures.

Now The Sun newspaper reports from next week, Jason will be given more of a front seat on the show, with Vernon's role diminished.

"This was supposed to be a huge show launch for ITV but the timing has just been terrible," a source told The Sun. "Vernon hasn’t done any favours for the ratings.

"Viewers have reacted very badly to him starring on the show following his sexting scandal and it’s inevitable that they’re not going to focus on him as much any more."

The show, billed as ITV's answer to Top Gear, sees celebrities including comedian Johnny Vegas and Good Morning Britain weather girl Laura Tobin compete in various challenges.

Next week's contest will see the stars try their luck in an all-terrain 4x4 driving competition, where they will drive through a quarry lake while being timed. It will be hosted by Jason, who has been praised by viewers for his hosting style.

"Viewers have responded well to Jason so producers will feature him more prominently in episodes three to five," the insider added.

However, Drive’s executive producer Mel Leach insisted to the publication: "We fully stand by Vernon who was a great host on Drive."

Vernon hit headlines once again when The Sun uncovered text messages he had allegedly been sending Rhian. He insisted at the time the story broke wife and Strictly Come Dancing host Tess Daly was aware of his contact with blonde model Rhian, who he admitted to sexting back in 2010.

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