×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Matt LeBlanc Set to Host ‘Top Gear’ Solo After Chris Evans’ Exit

With Chris Evans’ departure from “Top Gear,” the British automotive series is undergoing its second host change in a little more than a year. But don’t expect a complete overhaul this time.

Sources tell Variety that Evans’ co-host Matt LeBlanc will return for the show’s 24th season, which is set to begin production in September. Contributors Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan, Rory Reid and Sabine Schmitz, who joined LeBlanc and Evans for season 23, are expected to return alongside LeBlanc for season 24. No replacement for Evans is expected to be named — leaving LeBlanc and the contributors to carry the show’s on-camera responsibilities.

LeBlanc is also set to star this fall in the freshman CBS comedy series “Man With a Plan,” his first starring role on U.S. broadcast TV in a decade. Under LeBlanc’s deal with the studio, “Man With the Plan” is in first position, with the studio obliged to make a good-faith effort to accommodate his “Top Gear” hosting duties. “Top Gear” is expected to work around LeBlanc’s CBS shooting schedule.

A representative for LeBlanc directed questions about his future on the show to the BBC. A BBC America spokesperson referred Variety to a previously released statement from BBC Studios director Mark Linsey saying that “the right people remain, on both the production team and presenting team to take the show forward and make it the hit we want it to be.”

Evans announced his departure from the long-running BBC Two series, which has been broadcast in the United States on BBC America since 2007, on Monday. He wrote on Twitter, “Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best.”

Poor ratings and reports in the U.K. tabloids of on- and off-set controversy provided the backdrop for Evans’ exit. The season 23 finale dipped to a season-low 1.9 million overnight viewers in the U.K. earlier this month, fewer than half the show’s average from the previous season. The finale faced stiff competition from the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, but was also beat by ITV’s “Antiques Roadshow,” which drew 3.9 million viewers. In the U.S., the first five episodes of season 24 have averaged 379,000 viewers for BBC America in Nielsen live-plus-three ratings — better than the network’s primetime average, but well below previous seasons.

Evans, a well-known U.K. radio personality, signed a three-year deal last year to take over “Top Gear” hosting duties after former host Jeremy Clarkson was fired for punching a producer. Co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May left with Clarkson, and the three went on to sign a deal to develop a new show for Amazon Studios.

Evans’ own tenure has also been hit by controversy. He has been the subject of sexual harassment allegations, with The Guardian reporting this week that Evans may be questioned by London police over claims dating back to the 1990s.

LeBlanc was added as Evans’ co-host prior to the start of season 23, signing a one-season contract with an option for a second season. The actor had previously appeared as a celebrity guest on the show in 2012.

In June, Britain’s Sun tabloid, citing unnamed sources, reported that LeBlanc had threatened to quit unless Evans was fired. LeBlanc’s publicist shot the report down as baseless. Variety reported at the time that the actor was in talks with “Top Gear” producers over his future involvement with the show as he prepared to begin production on “Man With a Plan.”

The Evans-LeBlanc “Top Gear” was poorly received by most critics and fans, but the bulk of negative sentiment was aimed at Evans. Website Digital Spy’s critic wrote in a review of the season 23 finale, “When the right people — Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid, Chris Harris and Sabine Schmitz — are front and centre, there are moments where ‘Top Gear’ feels like it has found its feet.”

More TV

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Say He Was Victim of Police 'Spectacle'

    Jussie Smollett’s legal team issued a defiant statement on Thursday night, saying the “Empire” actor feels betrayed by the justice system and hinting at a political motive for his prosecution. Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report. He was released after a court hearing on $100,000 bond, [...]

  • Carra Patterson Sarah Levy Paola Lazaro

    Fox Casts Four Leads in 'Patty's Auto' Pilot

    Fox has announced the casting of four lead characters for its multi-cam comedy pilot “Patty’s Auto,” including the eponymous Patty. Inspired by Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop with all female mechanics, the project centers on Patty, the intimidating owner of Patty’s Auto who will be played by “Straight Outta Compton” alumna [...]

  • Adam Pally Abby Elliott

    Adam Pally, Abby Elliott Join Cast of NBC Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured'

    NBC pilot “Uninsured” has cast four of its series regulars, with Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project,” “The President Show”) and Abby Elliott (“Saturday Night Live,” “Odd Mom Out”) playing the young married couple at the center of the show. Pally will play Dave, who is described as a “natural hype man with a good heart.” Elliott [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Appeared in Documentary on

    Jussie Smollett Recently Hosted Doc on Lynching, Filmmaker Talks 'Coincidence'

    In May 2018, Jussie Smollett appeared as the narrator and correspondent in an episode of the Epix documentary series “America Divided” that explored the subject of hate crimes, specifically lynching, in the state of Tennessee. Now that the “Empire” actor has been charged with filing a false police report and Chicago police are convinced he [...]

  • TV News Roundup: CBS All Access

    TV News Roundup: 'Twilight Zone' Reboot Drops First Full Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, CBS All Access has released the official trailer for the rebooted “Twilight Zone” and Sophia Bush will guest star on “Jane the Virgin.” CASTING “One Tree Hill” actress and Time’s Up activist Sophia Bush has been cast as a guest star on the fifth and final season of “Jane the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content