Matt LeBlanc parts ways with <em>Top Gear</em> after Series 26

Top Gear frontman Matt LeBlanc has announced that he is leaving the popular motoring show this year, BBC confirmed. The Friends star cited personal reasons for his departure, saying that while helming the show was “great fun”, the “time commitment and extensive travel… takes me away from my family and friends more than I’m comfortable with.”

LeBlanc added, “It’s unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive.”

The American actor will stay on for one more season (Series 26, airing later this year), after which he would have completed four seasons on the British motoring programme since joining on in 2016. LeBlanc was one of six new hosts – headed by radio host Chris Evans – signed on in the wake of former host Jeremy Clarkson’s dismissal.

That lineup lasted only one season before Evans resigned from his role on the show, after low ratings and alleged disagreements with the hosts and staff (including LeBlanc himself). Since then, LeBlanc led a rejuvenated Top Gear with a number of big changes, not least of which being Chris Harris and Rory Reid being promoted to main hosts.

Controller for the BBC Two channel Patrick Holland said, “I want to thank the fabulous Matt LeBlanc for being a brilliant co-host on Top Gear. Matt has thrown himself into the show with real passion, revealing his extraordinary car knowledge and a willingness to get down and dirty. We were always going to be borrowing him from his day job as one of the top comic actors in Hollywood so I wish him all the very best.”

This leaves the door open for a new host from 2019 onwards, and whoever steps into the role will have big shoes to fill. Top Gear gained a massive following during the Clarkson era, and even the last season was claimed to have attracted six times the average volume of 18 to 34 year olds on BBC Two. The show is aired in over 200 territories around the world, so the new host should have international recognition, too.

Some great footage from LeBlanc’s time on the show, in the video above.