Since its launch in 1977, Top Gear has always been at the forefront of motoring shows. After a hugely successful relaunch in 2002, with Jeremy Clarkson as the main host, Top Gear went on to become one of the most popular shows in the world, and the presenting trio of Clarkson, along with Richard Hammond and James May, was largely responsible for the series’ popularity.

Following Jeremy Clarkson’s dismissal from the BBC back in March 2015, Hammond and May announced they would quit the show too, in solidarity. Radio 2 DJ and presenter Chris Evans (the one who’s not Captain America), was announced as the new Top Gear host, and the latest series of the show is set to launch in May. For quite some time, many have been speculating on who would co-host with Evans, but few could have suspected the BBC would announce that former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc would fill the spot.

LeBlanc’s appointment marks the first time a non-Brit has hosted the show in its 39 year history, but LeBlanc has appeared on the show twice before, appearing as the ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’, where he still holds the record for the fastest lap time. He also recently hosted a standalone Top Gear spinoff show called Top Gear: The Races. Here is the statement from LeBlanc on the news:

“As a car nut and a massive fan of Top Gear, I’m honoured and excited to be a part of this iconic show’s new chapter. What a thrill!”

Watch LeBlanc setting the fastest lap time for a ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’, below.

Evans also released his own statement about the news:

“Matt’s a lifelong fellow petrolhead and I’m thrilled he’s joining Top Gear. Acting out our craziest car notions on screen is a dream job and I know we’ll both be debating some epic road trip ideas. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to on screen later this year.”

Filming is currently underway for the new season, and further casting announcements are expected to be made in due course. However, it will be interesting to see if the new Top Gear presenting panel can rival the old, and much-loved Top Gear crew in the viewing stakes. Clarkson, Hammond, and May have all signed to host a new motoring show on Amazon Prime, to be released sometime this year. The as-yet-untitled series will be produced by former Top Gear executive, Andy Wilman, who followed the trio to Amazon Prime. While there is certainly room for one more car show on our screens, Top Gear fans’ loyalty to Clarkson et al should not be underestimated.

Top Gear returns to the BBC in the UK on May 8th, 2016.

Source: Top Gear