BBC announces new Top Gear line-up will include U.S. actor Matt LeBlanc
He joins British TV and radio personality Chris Evans when the show returns in May
Looks like “Top Gear” is getting a new Friend.
U.S. actor and “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc will join British TV and radio personality Chris Evans for presenting duties when the revamped show returns in May, the BBC has confirmed.
The 48-year-old’s casting marks the first time the popular driving program has included a non-British host in its 39-year history.
“Top Gear” is one of the British broadcaster’s most valuable global brands generating an estimated £150 million ($225.8 million) in revenue for the BBC’s commercial arm in 2014, according to British media reports.
“As a car nut and a massive fan of Top Gear, I’m honored and excited to be a part of this iconic show’s new chapter. What a thrill!” Matt LeBlanc said in a press release.
LeBlanc will join production “immediately,” according to the BBC.
“Matt’s a lifelong fellow petrolhead and I’m thrilled he’s joining Top Gear,” said Evans. “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.”
The unexpected appointment has come as a complete surprise to fans despite hints from tjhe award-winning actor on Twitter in recent days. LeBlanc – who has previously appeared twice on the show and currently holds the record for fastest celebrity lap – posted a gif declaring his love for “Top Gear” and a tease tweet alerting followers that “very news coming in the next day or so.”
Alan Tyler, the BBC’s acting controller for entertainment commissioning, described LeBlanc as “a class act” and “a brilliant signing.”
He added: “He is a self-confessed car fanatic with a passion for the program. I’m really looking forward to watching Chris and Matt bring the all new show to our audiences.”
Evans took to Twitter to share the pair’s first promotional shot alongside The Stig letting fans know “More to come.”
“Top Gear” was previously fronted by Jeremy Clarkson but after striking a producer last year, the BBC decided not to renew his contract.
No charges were filed against the lead presenter, but the furore around the incident was enough for the outspoken Brit to be given the boot.
Meanwhile, Clarkson and his former “Top Gear” colleagues Richard Hammond and James May have teamed up with Amazon Prime to front a new motoring show on the streaming service.