Matt LeBlanc Joins Top Gear As New Co-Host
It’s not a role on Days of our Lives, but it’s still a dream gig for Joeyby Kirby, on
No, this isn’t an April Fools joke two months too early. Matt LeBlanc, a man we all grew to love as Joey Tribbiani in the hit sitcom Friends, is joining Top Gear as one of its co-hosts. How’s that for a total surprise? LeBlanc is the second host announced by the BBC for the revamped show after the departures of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. The American actor joins Chris Evans and together will make up two-thirds of the show’s host. A third host, rumored to either be Chris Harris or Sabine Schmitz, will be announced at a later date. Interestingly enough, former Formula One driver David Coulthard has also been linked to the show, opening up the possibility that the revamped Top Gear will have four hosts in its new iteration.
LeBlanc’s inclusion to the show is a bit surprising considering that nobody really saw this hire coming. Then again, the 48-year old actor does have a history with the show, having held the title of "fastest star in a reasonably priced car” during the era of Clarkson, May, and Hammond. He also presented “Top Gear: The Races,” a seven-episode standalone spin-off that featured some of the most memorable races from the series’ first 22 seasons.
So, it’s not like LeBlanc isn’t going to be in his element. On the contrary, there is some genius behind the move since the BBC really needed a recognizable name to be part of the revamped show. All due respect to Chris Evans, but when people hear his name, they think of Captain America, not the British presenter. Having LeBlanc on the show would give Top Gear a name that viewers will immediately recognize. It also helps that LeBlanc is universally regarded as a genuine gear head with a tremendous amount of knowledge of the auto industry.
The rebooted version of Top Gear will make its debut on May 8, 2016 with the entire season comprised of 16 episodes.
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Why it matters
I was like most people. I was immediately taken aback by the announcement. Matt LeBlanc will be a co-host of Top Gear? My reaction didn’t have anything to do with his knowledge of the business – I already knew his knowledge of the industry was probably in the top 98th percentile of the world’s population. My reaction had more to do with the fact that LeBlanc becomes the first non-British host in the show’s 39-year history. Yes, Top Gear has been around since 1977, first as a traditional car magazine-type show before evolving into the hilarity that came when Clarkson, May, and Hammond became its hosts in 2002.
In any case, that part of the decision to hire LeBlanc caught me off guard. But, the more I let the news marinate in my head, the more it actually makes sense. For instance, the importance of having an established name in the show has been resolved. That in turn makes it easier for the BBC to sell the new program in international markets, especially in the U.S. where LeBlanc remains a household name to everyone who grew up loving Friends.
The most important question I have right now is whether Evans, LeBlanc, and whoever joins the show as the other co-host (or co-hosts) will have the same kind of chemistry that Clarkson, May, and Hammond had when they were hosting. I know that it’s next to impossible to replicate that kind of magical and oftentimes hilarious relationship between the three old heads, but if the new crop of hosts can establish its own brand of chemistry, it should be able to create a unique show that will be different from the previous version. Either way, I can’t wait to see what is in store for fans of the show.