NEW YORK • Actor Matt LeBlanc will join the cast of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Top Gear, a popular car-themed show known for its on-air antics - as well as its high-profile staffing changes.
Top Gear said on Thursday that LeBlanc, who played Joey on the Friends sitcom and is a self-described "car nut", would join the show's host, Chris Evans, a British presenter whose hiring was announced last summer.
"Matt's a lifelong fellow petrolhead and I'm thrilled he's joining Top Gear," Evans said in a statement. "Acting out our craziest car notions on screen is a dream job and I know we'll both be debating some epic road trip ideas."
LeBlanc, who will be the first American to co-host the programme, is no stranger to Top Gear, especially its Star In A Reasonably Priced Car segment.
During an appearance, he zipped around a racetrack in a Kia Cee'd, earning the segment's fastest time for that model (although actor Rowan Atkinson came close).
"Just don't use the brake as much, that's all," LeBlanc said while behind the wheel.
Even with his automotive chops, the previous cast could be a tough act to follow.
After the BBC restarted Top Gear in 2002, the cars tended to take a back seat to the antics of its three hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, as they traipsed the globe.
Controversy occasionally followed: Clarkson was suspended last March after he attacked a producer following a night of drinking.
The contract for Clarkson, once among the BBC's highest-earning employees, was not renewed.
In July, Amazon announced that Clarkson and Hammond would join the company to film a new show.
The BBC has said that more cast members will join LeBlanc and Evans.
According to The Guardian, two possibilities are German racing driver Sabine Schmitz and British journalist Chris Harris.
NEW YORK TIMES