Television sitcom star Matt LeBlanc will be a presenter on the world-famous BBC motoring show, Top Gear.
The BBC has confirmed the Friends star will join Chris Evans as a host of the new Top Gear. It is hoped LeBlanc will improve Top Gear‘s international appeal, as lead presenter Chris Evans is relatively unknown outside the UK.
It may seem like an odd move, given that LeBlanc rose to fame playing ladies’ man Joey Tribbiani in the NBC hit sitcom Friends and later appeared as himself in the BBC hit comedy Episodes (the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor), but he’s no stranger to Top Gear or cars in general.
LeBlanc is, in fact, a self-confessed petrolhead, with a collection of supercars to his name, and is currently the fastest celebrity around the Top Gear track in the show’s ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ segment. He was also the bookies’ favourite (but, amazingly, no one placed a bet on him).
The full presenter line-up will likely be revealed in February.
Before the news was announced, LeBlanc tweeted: “Hey guys, very cool news coming in the next day or so. Stay tuned.” Some fans of the star believed it was a reference to the Friends reunion, which will see all the stars bar Matthew Perry (who played Chandler) reunite for a two-hour special episode.
It is unclear who else will join Evans and LeBlanc, but a number of reports suggest motoring journalist Chris Harris will be on the list.
It has also been suggested Top Gear will step away from the three-presenter format once comprising Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Instead, the main presenters will likely be joined by multiple guest contributors.
There have been doubts over Top Gear‘s future, with a seemingly long list of mistakes and setbacks holding back the show, including Evans getting car sick, a lack of car knowledge in the team and the departure of executive producer Lisa Clark.
But with such a worldwide household name to bolster the proceedings, there may be life in the old dog yet ─ and it could give Clarkson’s Amazon Prime show (produced by Andy Wilman and presented by the original Top Gear trio) a run for its money.
Clarkson was ejected from the show for punching a producer, leading to all three presenters leaving the show before being snapped up by Amazon to create a motoring show as part of a deal said to be worth £160million.
No doubt there will be blood spilled as both shows do battle, but for petrolheads it means we may have more than one motoring show vying for our attention. No offence, Fifth Gear.
Actually, make that three shows ─ ITV’s new motoring show The Drive will also debut in the coming months and will star eight celebrities who will compete against each other in a series of races and vehicles.
Update: The BBC has since confirmed the news, making LeBlanc the first non-Brit presenter in 39 years. LeBlanc said in a statement: “As a car nut and a massive fan of Top Gear, I’m honoured and excited to be a part of this iconic show’s new chapter. What a thrill!”
Evans added: “Matt’s a lifelong fellow petrolhead and I’m thrilled he’s joining Top Gear. Acting out our craziest car notions on screen is a dream job and I know we’ll both be debating some epic road trip ideas. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to on screen later this year.”