Matt LeBlanc is the last man standing. British TV personality Chris Evans has stepped down from the BBC series Top Gear just one week after reports surfaced that Matt LeBlanc said he no longer wanted to work with him. Evans posted his goodbye message to fans on Twitter, revealing he has decided to step down from the show after giving it his “best shot” for a painful six episodes.
Matt LeBlanc has not commented on Evans’ announcement, but the Top Gear website posted a full statement from the popular radio host, who praised the “committed and driven team” on the show. Top Gear has struggled in ratings since Evans and LeBlanc took over this year, and while the departing host didn’t mention Matt LeBlanc by name, he added: “I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause.”
While Evans is out, BBC reps confirmed that Matt LeBlanc, Sabine Schmitz, Rory Reid, Chris Harris, and Eddie Jordan will all return for the upcoming Top Gear season, which is set to air in 2017. According to TV Line, BBC reps also hinted that Evans may not be replaced at all.
The Guardian reported that Evans dedicated his Radio 2 breakfast show on Tuesday to “all the Top Gear gang,” and he confirmed that all of the stories about his unexpected departure are “all true.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Evans’ resignation not only comes after Matt LeBlanc reportedly voiced frustration over working with him. But the news also comes after it was revealed that the British TV personality was being investigated over resurfaced sexual assault allegations dating back to the 1990s.
Matt LeBlanc was hired on BBC 2’s flagship auto-themed show alongside Evans, who took over for original host Jeremy Clarkson. The hiring of Matt LeBlanc was made in attempt to expand the show’s international reach, but the new Top Gear team didn’t have the best chemistry and ratings suffered.
British tabloids regularly reported that there was on-set tension between Evans and LeBlanc. Last week, the Huffington Post UK posted that LeBlanc gave his bosses at Top Gear an ultimatum, telling them they had to choose between his co-host and him. The UK paper The Sun revealed that LeBlanc was fed up with Evans’ rude behavior and frosty attitude towards him and the rest of the Top Gear staff.
But in a May interview with Radio Times, Matt LeBlanc said he had no problem with his co-star and that they shared plenty of good times on the set.
“All this stuff that Chris and I are at war with each other is a big load of b******t,” LeBlanc said. “We’ve never had a rift!…We’re hanging out, having a laugh, doing our best. He is an extremely smart guy. I’d beat him in a race, though – and you can tell him I said that.”
Matt LeBlanc initially signed a contract for two seasons of Top Gear, but in light of the most recent developments on the show, a rep for LeBlanc told The Sun that “nothing has been discussed or decided” regarding the former Friends star’s future on the BBC series.
Matt LeBlanc is a self-described “car nut” who recorded the fastest-ever celebrity lap time on the original Top Gear series before signing on for the reboot in February. While Top Gear undergoes yet another overhaul, Matt LeBlanc is keeping busy shooting his new CBS comedy, Man With a Plan.
Take a look at the video below to see Matt LeBlanc cruising a Kia on Top Gear.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Tommy Bahama]