Matt LeBlanc has signed a new contract to host BBC’s flagship motoring show Top Gear for at least two more seasons, following the departure of co-host Chris Evans, the BBC have announced in an official statement.
The news comes days after it was announced that the BBC would no longer be hosting the hugely popular reality cooking show The Great British Bake-Off, after being outbid by rival network Channel 4.
It is rumoured that the BBC, who are funded by UK taxpayers, will pay the former Friends star a total salary of £2 million (approximately USD $2.6 million) over the course of two years, though the BBC have yet to make any official comment on LeBlanc’s salary.
LeBlanc was part of the extensive hosting cast who joined the show in 2015, following the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson, who had hosted the show since 2002 along with co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond. Soon after the new presenter line-up was announced, widespread reports emerged of a rift between LeBlanc and co-host Chris Evans, the latter of whom has since been axed from the show. The remaining seven hosts from last series will return as hosts of the main show, as well BBC Three’s Extra Gear. Eddie Jordan, Sabine Schmitz, and The Stig are all set to make “regular appearances”.
Patrick Holland, BBC Two’s Channel Editor said: “I am thrilled that Matt LeBlanc is returning to Top Gear. He’s a huge talent whose love of cars is infectious. I can’t wait for the series to return to BBC Two next year.”
Amazon’s rival motoring show The Grand Tour, presented by Top Gear’s trio of former presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, is due to debut on November 18th of this year, with weekly new episodes thereafter.
Top Gear will return for its 24th season in 2017, although no specific air date has yet been announced.