Matt LeBlanc to Return as Host of ‘Top Gear,’ BBC Confirms

Matt LeBlanc will return to host another season of hit automotive show “Top Gear,” the BBC confirmed Monday, as the program braces for heavy competition from a new car-themed series from Amazon featuring “Top Gear’s” former presenters.

LeBlanc signed up for two more seasons, the BBC said. The Sun tabloid reported that the deal was worth 2 million pounds ($2.6 million), but the pubcaster did not comment on LeBlanc’s salary.

The former “Friends” star’s return next year as “Top Gear” front man will be without his original co-host, Chris Evans, who quit earlier this summer amid concern over the show’s slide in the ratings and negative reaction from fans and critics alike to his hosting. Viewership hit a dismal 1.9 million for the 2016 finale in July, the program’s worst results since its 2002 relaunch.

LeBlanc will be joined for the 2017 season, “Top Gear’s” 24th in total, by Chris Harris and Rory Reid, with regular appearances from Eddie Jordan, Sabine Schmitz and The Stig, the BBC said.

“Matt was hugely popular with ‘Top Gear’ viewers last series with his humor, warmth and obvious passion for cars and for the show, so I couldn’t be more delighted that he’s agreed to come back and do more for us,” said Mark Linsey, the director of BBC Studios.

LeBlanc and Evans were hired to replace popular hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond after the BBC fired Clarkson in 2015 for punching a producer. Clarkson, May and Hammond are now set to return to the screen in November in “Grand Tour,” a rival automotive show on Amazon Prime Video.

The retooled “Top Gear” with Evans and LeBlanc debuted at the end of May with an episode that drew an average of 4.4 million viewers in Britain, below the 5.3 million who tuned in for the final installment featuring Clarkson, May and Hammond. Viewership dropped practically every week thereafter.

The show also saw a dip in popularity on BBC America, with just 388,000 viewers for the season opener. The debut episode of the previous, Clarkson-led season had drawn 530,000 viewers on BBC America.

Next season’s “Top Gear” will be executive-produced by Clare Pizey, with Alex Renton as series editor.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content