This morning the BBC has announced that Matt LeBlanc, best known for his role as Joey Tribbiani in the hit show Friends, has been hired on as the second host on the new Top Gear, alongside Chris Evans.
Naturally, this has stirred up a bit of controversy on social media, as many feel the spot should go to Sabine Schmidt or Chris Harris.
No doubt either of those individuals would bring a certain level of credibility to the show, which would increase its appeal to hard core enthusiasts, but does credibility really have anything to do with Top Gear? Not to mention the reality that outside of hard core motoring enthusiasts, few know who Schmidt and Harris are. Funny and talented for sure, but unknown to the masses.
The Beeb is about to go head to head against the former cast of the show, who are about to launch a new show funded by Amazon. They really, really need some serious eyeballs on Top Gear Series 23. Top Gear is entertainment first and foremost and it needs to make the network some serious money.
For his part, LeBlanc brings a massive fan base to the show. Right off the bat, that gives the show an edge with a wider audience. Beyond that, the actor is a cuddly, goofy sort of fellow who is more than happy to make fun of himself. He is a pretty serious gearhead who has had both Porsche and Ferrari toys in his garage. An avid racing fan, LeBlanc did a great job at the Toyota Pro-Celebrity race at Long Beach a few years ago, leading the race until he stuck it in a wall. Oh, and he also holds the record for the fastest Star in a reasonably priced car, a 1:41.1.
For sure this is not going to be anywhere near the same as the old TG, nor should it be. It will be interesting to see what they cook up and what sort of banter develops between Evans and LeBlanc.