Matt LeBlanc, the American actor who rose to fame as Joey in Friends, has been announced as the new Top Gear presenter. LeBlanc, 48, will join Chris Evans in the new presenting line-up, and becomes the first non-British host in the show’s 39-year history.
A photograph issued by Evans as he made the announcement on Twitter also included The Stig, suggesting that element of Top Gear will remain firmly intact. The revamped show is due back on BBC Two in May, after a much-publised change in presenters as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May departed for Amazon following a “fracas”.
LeBlanc, who also stars in BBC comedy Episodes, is already familiar to Top Gear viewers, after appearing on the show twice as a guest. He holds the records for the fastest celebrity to date around the Top Gear track in its reasonably priced car.
He also recently presented the standalone spin-off Top Gear: The Races, where he led fans through some of the most memorable racing moments from the previous 22 series. LeBlanc said of his appointment: “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!”
The appointment of a famous face is likely to be a significant boost for the show’s BBC Worldwide sales, with the previous line-up bringing in millions of pounds for the corporation thanks to their global popularity.
Evans said of his new Top Gear sidekick: “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.” Alan Tyler, the BBC’s Acting Controller for Entertainment Commissioning, said: “Matt is a class act and a brilliant signing for Top Gear. He is a self-confessed car fanatic with a passion for the programme.
I’m really looking forward to watching Chris and Matt bring the all new show to our audiences.” The BBC said the actor would join production immediately, with “additional Top Gear cast members to be confirmed shortly”.