Matt LeBlanc’s Return to ‘Top Gear’ for Season 2 Appears Uncertain

Top Gear Matt LeBlanc
Courtesy of BBC America

Matt LeBlanc’s status as co-host on BBC and BBC America’s “Top Gear” appears to be uncertain for the hit auto show’s second season.

The “Friends” and “Episodes” actor is in talks with “Top Gear’s” producers to figure out his involvement with the show as he prepares also to star in a new family sitcom for CBS, “Man With a Plan,” which launches in the fall. LeBlanc plays a contractor raising three children.

The talks regarding LeBlanc’s role on “Top Gear” come as the show, once one of the BBC’s biggest hits, struggles in the ratings. Britain’s Sun tabloid, citing unnamed sources, also reported that LeBlanc was unhappy with his co-host Chris Evans and that he threatened to walk away from the show unless Evans is fired.

LeBlanc’s publicist called the report baseless and said the two co-hosts got along fine. Production on “Top Gear’s” first season just wrapped.

The series underwent a makeover following the departure of popular hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, who have set up a rival car series at Amazon. But “Top Gear’s” fans have has so far failed to warm up to Evans and LeBlanc; the latest episode, which featured “Absolutely Fabulous” star Jennifer Saunders, attracted only 2.7 million viewers in Britain, about half the average audience of the last season.

The Sun quoted a source as saying that “Top Gear’s” Audience Appreciation Index score, which measures audience opinion of a show’s quality based on a survey of 5,000 viewers, was “catastrophic.” The first episode of the revamped “Top Gear,” which airs on BBC Two, scored 60 — the lowest for any terrestrial TV show that weekend. The average score for a BBC Two show is 82.

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment.