Top Gear has been slowly but surely coming together over at the BBC for the past several months. Following the news that Chris Evans would be the host of the series, the network decided to go ahead and keep the same format and sign on other hosts to flesh out the show a bit more. This week, the BBC announced that Episodes and Friends actor Matt LeBlanc will be joining Chris Evans for the new iteration of Top Gear, which the network now says will return in May. The BBC also released a spiffy new image of the two gentlemen, standing with The Stig:
The news that Matt LeBlanc is joining the hosting team is pretty interesting, as it marks the first time an American has hosted the long-running series. It’s not that Matt LeBlanc is totally new to Top Gear; the BBC notes that he has actually popped up in several episodes of Top Gear in the past. He’s also the presenter of the BBC America series Top Gear: The Races, which looks at memorable racing moments from Top Gear’s history. He’s also really, really into cars, so that should help.
It’s not just going to be Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc hanging out each week. The BBC says that other Top Gear cast members will be confirmed shortly. Formerly, we had heard that David Coulthard, Sabine Schmitz and Chris Harris had all been added to Top Gear. However, David Coulthard eventually snubbed the role, instead choosing to do Formula One coverage. Sabine Schmitz recently admitted that she’s been around the new Top Gear, but not as a host. And now, the BBC says another host will be announced, so it’s looking like the lineup is anything but cemented at this point.
Rumors from the set have indicated that the BBC has had a bit of trouble getting Top Gear off of the ground. Chris Evans has admitted he’s been working too many gigs for long stretches at a time. Production has been described as “in a shambles” and obviously the fact that the aforementioned names in the former paragraph have either quit or not had their gigs defined publicly is pretty strange. Now, the BBC is bringing in an American celebrity in the hopes that the publicity will help people to get excited about the new series. I like Matt LeBlanc and I’m sure he’s really into vehicles, but whether or not he turns out to be great, the star power he brings is different than past choices.
As noted prior, the first episode of the new Top Gear is expected to hit the schedule this coming May. By then, I’m assuming the cast will be rounded out. We’ll let you know when the BBC officially announces a premiere date. In the meantime, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are currently getting their rival series together over at Amazon. That one doesn't have an official premiere date, either.
In the meantime, here’s what’s coming up on TV this winter.
Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.
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