Friends and Episodes actor Matt LeBlanc is set to depart BBC’s hit automotive series Top Gear as host after the next season, his fourth, airs later this year.
In a statement, LeBlanc (pictured) cited “the time commitment and extensive travel required” as taxing on his relationships with friends and family. He went on to say, “It’s unfortunate, but for these reasons, I will not be continuing my involvement with the show.”
LeBlanc joined Top Gear as a co-host in 2016 alongside BBC Radio presenter Chris Evans. After a successful run, LeBlanc inked a two-season deal to host the reboot with Evans, who later stepped down from his role amid flagging viewership.
LeBlanc, Evans and a host of other Top Gear presenters replaced the popular crew of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May who left the pubcaster for Amazon’s own motoring-themed show, The Grand Tour.
LeBlanc’s tenure on the long-running Top Gear saw him journey around the world to explore the most exciting cars, and to take part in challenges from helping NASA land a priceless research plane, to building the world’s fastest tractor.
Since LeBlanc took up hosting duties on Top Gear alongside Chris Harris and Rory Reid, the show has garnered both critical and audience acclaim. According to a BBC release, the last series attracted six times the average volume of 18 to 34-year-olds to BBC2.
BBC Studios manages the Top Gear brand globally, which airs in more than 200 territories around the world.
BBC2 controller Patrick Holland said, in a statement, that the British pubcaster will be searching for a new co-host to join the team for 2019 and beyond.