The one where Joey hosts ‘Top Gear’: ‘Friends’ star LeBlanc joins motor show

Actor Matt LeBlanc. © Lucy Nicholson
A major gap left in the Top Gear panel following the BBC’s decision to jettison Jeremy Clarkson will be in some part filled by the fastest ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ - Matt LeBlanc.

The actor, most famous for his role as struggling thespian Joey Tribbiani in sitcom Friends and ill-fated spin-off Joey, has been announced as a new host for the upcoming season.

He will join fellow adrenaline junky Chris Evans in burning rubber around the racetrack when the popular motoring show returns this summer.

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

Coincidentally, the last time LeBlanc featured on the show in 2012 he received a warm embrace by the man he would replace, after topping the ‘Star in a Reasonably Price Car’ leaderboard.

The American raced around Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey at breakneck speed to beat the likes of Mr Bean comic Rowan Atkinson and Scientologist actor Tom Cruise.

Clarkson’s tenure as Top Gear presenter came to an unceremonious end in March 2015 following a ‘fracas’ with one of his producers at a hotel.

After an investigation by the BBC, his contract was not renewed and fellow presenters James May and Richard Hammond decided to follow him off the show.

The outspoken British journalist had been on a final warning after a high-profile incident where he appeared to use racist language. In 2014, Clarkson released a video statement apologizing for unaired footage which “sounds like” he used the N-word while reciting a nursery rhyme.

In the video, he asked for forgiveness for not being able to sufficiently obscure the sound of a racist term that definitely wasn’t coming out of his own mouth.

Later that year, British broadcast regulator Ofcom ruled Clarkson used a racial slur in a Top Gear episode filmed in Burma and Thailand.