Who might replace Matt LeBlanc on Top Gear?

Matt LeBlanc

Some say he rescued Top Gear after the departure of its previous presenters.

But Matt LeBlanc is now leaving the BBC’s hit motoring show to spend more time with his friends and family.

Viewers are split on whether it’s a good or bad thing for the series – which we’ll get to in a sec.

Who might replace Matt LeBlanc on Top Gear?
Who might replace Matt LeBlanc on Top Gear?

But first – who might fill the Blanc space?

The bookies’ favourites include:

Image copyrightBBC / Getty
Image caption Could James Martin, Jodie Kidd or Guy Martin climb into the show’s driving seat?
  • James Martin, former Saturday Kitchen presenter

James is a car fanatic who has expressed interest in the job before, and would have room for a new TV gig, having stepped down from Saturday Kitchen in 2016.

  • Guy Martin, motorbike racer and TV presenter

Guy turned down a personal invitation from Chris Evans to co-host the show last time around, but that hasn’t stopped bookies from making him one of the favourites to join the show now.

  • Jenson Button, racing driver

As a former Formula One world champion, he certainly has experience and credibility on his side – and, like Matt LeBlanc, is internationally recognisable, which would help attract foreign viewers.

  • Jodie Kidd, race car driver and TV presenter

Jodie has appeared on Top Gear as a guest on several occasions. With impeccable TV and driving credentials, now could be the perfect time to take the reins.

  • Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, stars of The Trip

Both Steve and Rob are petrolheads and have star power outside of the car world.

  • Rebecca Jackson, presenter and motoring journalist

Rebecca has experience presenting motoring shows like Fifth Gear and has done reviews for Telegraph Cars and What Car.

  • Dermot O’Leary, general national treasure

The X Factor host is one of British TV’s biggest names, and has a relationship with the BBC in the shape of his Radio 2 programme and his recent TV coverage of the royal wedding.

  • Philip Glenister, Life On Mars actor

Philip was reportedly in “advanced talks” to join Top Gear in 2015, although he didn’t make it to the final line-up.

  • Suzi Perry, sport and motoring presenter

Suzi has already hosted the BBC’s Formula One coverage – so this could now be her chance to get into the driving seat herself.

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It’s worth bearing in mind that LeBlanc’s hiring in 2016 was a huge surprise, leaving bookmakers on the back foot, so don’t rule out another leftfield choice and perhaps another big global name.

Radio 2 breakfast presenter Chris Evans hosted with LeBlanc after Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left, but only lasted a single series.

The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage said it was now time to call time on the show.

“Losing so many hosts in such a short time is not ideal,” he wrote. “The appeal of Top Gear was that it always looked more fun to make than to watch. So if the people who make it can’t be bothered any more, then why should we?”

The most recent series was seen by around three million people per episode on BBC Two, making it one of the channel’s most popular shows, with hundreds of thousands more watching on iPlayer.

More on Top Gear:

Fans have shared their opinions about the former Friends star’s departure.

“Honestly I really believe Matt saved the show. If it wasn’t for him Top Gear would have probably ended,” tweeted Matt [not LeBlanc].

“He did his job and left the series in better shape than it was when he started.”

Sahaib wrote on our Facebook page: “The show was doomed anyway without the trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May.

“They were Top Gear and you cannot recreate that kind of chemistry.”

“LeBlanc leaving Top Gear. Thank god, might finally be bearable to watch,” tweeted Chris.

But Samuel defended LeBlanc, writing: “Like him [on] Top Gear, brought some laughter to show. It’s sad he’s leaving.”

LeBlanc’s co-host Chris Harris wrote that he “totally understands” the star’s reasons for moving on.

Skip Twitter post by @harrismonkey

Had the best time working with @matt_leblanc. Sad it had to stop, but I totally understand his reasons for doing so. Best of luck big dog!

— chris harris (@harrismonkey) May 31, 2018

End of Twitter post by @harrismonkey

The magic formula – David Sillito, BBC media correspondent

The problem about all car shows is that everyone tries to do one – Counting Cars, One Car Too Far, Wheelers Dealers, Fifth Gear and so on.

If it was the magic formula for ratings, you’d know about all of these as being must-watch programmes.

But there was only one must-watch programme, which was, effectively, Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson.

He, Richard Hammond and James May had managed to come up with a magic formula of making a programme about cars, which people with no interest in cars would watch. And it’s a formula which is very hard to repeat.

It may be time to reincarnate the show and come up with a different idea – maybe by getting some women in there.

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