×
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.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Actress Catherine Oxenberg, left, with Stanley

    Catherine Oxenberg on Dramatizing Her Life Story for 'Escaping the NXIVM Cult'

    For seven years, Catherine Oxenberg says, individuals within the NXIVM organization groomed her daughter India and made her believe in their group as one of empowerment, despite many of their practices being abusive towards women. Now, those years have been condensed into a 90-minute dramatization of Oxenberg’s story for Lifetime, entitled “Escaping the NXIVM Cult: [...]

  • Suzanne Whang Obit

    'House Hunters' Star Suzanne Whang Dies at 56

    Suzanne Whang, best known for her nine-year hosting and narrating stint on HGTV’s “House Hunters,” died Tuesday after a 13-year battle with breast cancer. She was 56. Whang’s partner Jeff Vezain shared the news on Facebook Thursday, writing that “she confronted cancer with courage, humor, determination and optimism.” “She was immensely encouraged by the love [...]

  • Ronen Rubinstein, Sierra McClain Join ‘9-1-1:

    Ronen Rubinstein, Sierra McClain Join ‘9-1-1’ Spinoff at Fox

    Fox’s “9-1-1” spinoff has added two more series regulars to its cast. Ronen Rubinstein and Sierra McClain have joined previously announced cast members Rob Lowe, Liv Tyler and Jim Parrack, Variety has learned. The new entry to the budding “9-1-1” franchise follows a sophisticated New York fireman (Lowe) who, along with his son, re-locates to Austin, [...]

  • Mr Robot BTS

    How 'Mr. Robot' Launched Its Creator and Star to New Heights

    “Mr. Robot” may be synonymous with helping USA redefine its long-touted “blue-skies” strategy into its current “we the bold” motto, but the series was also career-defining for those involved — particularly creator Sam Esmail and actor Rami Malek. Malek’s resume included a few key credits including HBO’s “The Pacific” and “Short Term 12” before taking [...]

  • AMERICAN IDOL - "119 (Grand Finale)"

    Ryan Seacrest to Return for 'American Idol' Season 3 on ABC

    Ryan Seacrest will return as the host of “American Idol” for the music competition’s third season on ABC. Seacrest will also continue hosting and executive producing “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” his nationally syndicated L.A. morning drive-time radio show. He also serves as co-host and executive producer on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” as [...]

  • Julian Fellowes

    'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes on His Early Start as an Actor

    Julian Fellowes was all wrong for his time — at first. When he graduated from drama school in 1973, working-class dramas onstage were all the rage, and the aspiring actor struggled to get an agent. He eventually snagged a supporting role in “A Touch of Spring,” a West End comedy that required him to fall down a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content