Matt LeBlanc announces he's quitting 'Top Gear.' What next for BBC's flagship motoring programme?
The popular actor has announced that he will no longer be continuing as host of 'Top Gear' after the end of the next series
Matt LeBlanc has announced that he will no longer be continuing as the host of 'Top Gear,' one of BBC's most commercially successful programmes and which, since its premiere in 2002, has garnered a large following all over the world.
LeBlanc had been brought in on a £2 million deal to replace the show's original hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May but will now leave after the next series, which will be his fourth, citing the demands of the role and how it kept him away from his family and friends across the Atlantic.
In a statement, the actor said his 'experience on Top Gear has been great fun' and that he had 'thoroughly enjoyed working with the whole team.' However, it also stated that the time, commitment, and extensive travel required to present Top Gear 'takes me away from my family and friends more than I'm comfortable with.'
"It's unfortunate, but these reasons, I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive," it continued.
After the popular trio left BBC Two's flagship motoring programme in 2015, not many expected the show to recover. But in roping in the former 'F.R.I.E.N.D.S' star, the network arguably pulled off the best possible replacement.
Though many considered the 50-year-old to be a left-field choice — his American accent did not sit well with many of the show's more purist fans who had spent the last 13 years mocking their neighbors across the Atlantic — his natural charisma was a like-for-like replacement for that of those before him.
However, what the producers failed to replicate was the chemistry amongst the hosts that had made the show such a fun watch. Radio host and presenter Chris Evans, as well as co-presenters Rory Reid, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris, and Eddie Jordan, were hired alongside Blanc but could do little to fill the gigantic void their predecessors had left behind.
Furthermore, while it was Evans who was technically brought on to be the lead presenter in the show ala Clarkson, and LeBlanc tasked with a more supporting role, fans took to the actor much more. Evans' loud, and often screeching proclamations, did not sit well with audiences and extensive negative feedback meant that he eventually handed in his resignation.
LeBlanc has since carried the flagship programme with Harris and Reid, with Schmitz and Jordan making the occasional appearances but has now decided that his time is up as well. The Daily Mail reported the comments of Patrick Holland, a controller for BBC Two, who thanked the star for his contributions: "I want to thank the fabulous Matt LeBlanc for being a brilliant co-host on Top Gear."
"Matt has thrown himself into the show with real passion, revealing his extraordinary car knowledge and a willingness to get down and dirty. We were always going to be borrowing him from his day job as one of the top comic actors in Hollywood so I wish him the very best." he continued.
The all-important question now for the network is to decide who they replace LeBlanc with. It's possible that they go all-out for another superstar, but that would inevitably lead to a similar situation down the road. Do they stick and twist with Harris and Reid, who arguably have a raffish charm of their own, or do they decide that the show has finally run its eventual course?