Matt LeBlanc, the star of Episodes and Friends, is joining the BBC’s new Top Gear as co-host. The BBC’s announcement points out that this “marks the first time the show has ever had a non-British host in its 39-year history.”
The show returns in May. Previously, the BBC named Chris Evans as presenter. Jeremy Clarkson was fired last spring, following an incident with a producer and other bad behavior, and his co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May then left, as did basically everyone else.
Why Matt LeBlanc? He’s previously appeared on the show, and hosted the special Top Gear: The Races. And in a BBC press release, he calls himself “a car nut and a massive fan of Top Gear,” while Chris Evans calls him “a lifelong fellow petrolhead.”
The BBC makes the case for his fame, saying “LeBlanc’s international appeal has never been stronger despite filming the finale of his global hit Friends almost 12 years ago.” And his bio says more:
“Matt is an American actor, comedian and producer, best known for his role as Joey Tribbiani on the NBC sitcom Friends. In 2011, LeBlanc began starring as a fictional version of himself in Episodes, a BBC Two/Showtime television series created by the Friends co-creators. He won a Golden Globe award for his work on Episodes, and was nominated for an Emmy three times for his work on Friends and four times for Episodes.
Matt holds the record for the fastest ever celebrity lap of the famous Top Gear track, having appeared as a guest in Season 18 Episode 2 (TX 5 February 2012) setting a still unbeaten 1m42.1sec in the Kia C’eed. Matt also reappeared on the show in S19 E4 (TX 17 February 2013) when he was asked to test the new Kia C’eed on the track, against the old one.
Matt’s love of all things four- and two-wheeled will come as no surprise to Top Gear fans. While on set for his guest appearance, Matt also spent as much time as he was allowed driving the McLaren 12C supercar around the Top Gear track, accompanied by The Stig.”