Matt LeBlanc Named Co-Host of BBC's 'Top Gear'

Matt LeBlanc
Joe Pugliese

"They've been very trusting in the writing of our show. A lot of networks note you to death...I take it as a compliment that they've given us a long leash," Matt LeBlanc says of Showtime's hands-off approach to his comedy, Episodes.

The 'Friends' star has been added to the lineup of the BBC's new-look motoring show.

"How you doin'?"

The BBC's revamped Jeremy Clarkson-less Top Gear is taking shape, now having recruited the services of former Friends star Matt LeBlanc.

The actor will become co-host of the U.K. public broadcaster's flagship motoring series, due to begin airing in May, alongside British TV and radio personality Chris Evans, who was announced last year.

"Matt's a lifelong fellow petrolhead and I'm thrilled he's joining Top Gear," said Evans of his new co-host, who becomes the first non-Brit to take the wheel of the show in its 39-year history. "Acting out our craziest car notions onscreen is a dream job, and I know we’ll both be debating some epic road trip ideas."

Although most known for Friends, LeBlanc has been a regular on British TV screens in recent years thanks to his Golden Globe-winning role in the BBC/Showtime series Episodes, soon to go into production on its fifth season. His selection also gives Top Gear — a brand estimated to be worth roughly $75 million to the BBC around the world — an internationally recognizable face, and a face that will be known to viewers on BBC America.

"As a car nut and a massive fan of Top Gear, I'm honored and excited to be a part of this iconic show’s new chapter," said LeBlanc, who has twice been a guest on the program (clocking the fastest lap in one of its sections) and also hosted a spinoff, Top Gear: The Races. "What a thrill!”

The BBC said that more hosts are still to be announced, while Top Gear will be one of the main events at its BBC Worldwide showcase to international buyers, to be held in Liverpool later this month.

When it launches later this year, Top Gear is set to go head-to-head with its former host Clarkson, whose contract wasn't renewed last year after he punched a producer, one in a string of headline-generating controversies. Amazon eventually swooped in for Clarkson and his former co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond in a deal that even Amazon boss Jeff Bezos admitted was "very, very, very expensive."

The as-yet-untitled Amazon Prime show — reported to have cost some $250 million — is also set to air later this year.