TV & Movies

Why did Matt LeBlanc leave Top Gear?

Sunday Brunch: Paddy McGuinness on Top Gear gig

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Top Gear has been on the BBC for almost two decades and despite seeing a complete overhaul in hosts back in 2015, it is still a success. Season 31 will see the return of Paddy McGuiness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris leading the way in the car-focused show. But before this trio, it was former Friends star Matt LeBlanc who was in the driving seat.

Why did Matt LeBlanc leave Top Gear?

Actor and presenter Matt LeBlanc took over from his predecessor Chris Evans in 2016 after just one series.

LeBlanc joined journalist Chris Harris and presenter Rory Reid as one of the three frontmen for seasons 24 to 26.

While LeBlanc, who found fame as Joey Tribbiani in Friends, was a hit with fans, he didn’t stay for very long.

The 54-year-old made his permanent exit from Top Gear in 2019.

But it wasn’t down to a lack of wanting to do the series which made LeBlanc leave.

The reason for his departure was down to his geographical location.

In a statement released at the time, LeBlanc explained: “The time commitment and extensive travel required to present Top Gear takes me away from my family and friends more than I’m comfortable with.

“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.”

His former co-star Harris backed this up when he spoke to Metro.

“It’s not because he didn’t want to do it – the geography of his life didn’t allow him to do it,” Harris explained.

“You could argue he put himself out there for too long to carry on doing it. The travel for him was extraordinary.”

LeBlanc didn’t leave after any scandal, unlike the original Top Gear trio.

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Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were the hosts who originally made Top Gear a hit.

Clarkson was suspended and later fired by the BBC after an argument with producer Oisin Tymon which reportedly led to a physical altercation.

In response and support of Clarkson, fellow hosts May and Hammond quit Top Gear.

All three of them now work together on The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime.

Top Gear season 31 will see the return of hosts McGuinness, Flintoff and Harris.

They have been presenting the show for the past two years and are going to continue their adventures in these latest five episodes.

In episode one, they will be heading to the “British Grand Prix for a showdown with a trio of F1’s finest drivers”.

Top Gear returns tonight, Sunday, November 14, at 8pm on BBC One.

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