Entertainment & Arts

Matt LeBlanc 'amazed' by Top Gear reaction

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Media captionChris Evans has a few questions for Matt LeBlanc after signing for Top Gear...

Former Friends star Matt LeBlanc says he "can't believe the response" to the news he will co-host the new series of Top Gear, when the show returns in May.

"I knew Top Gear was a big show," he told co-host Chris Evans on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show. "But, wow, I was on the front page of the New York Times.

"There was so much I couldn't read it all.

"Thanks to Top Gear and the BBC, my day has been ducking paparazzi all day long."

LeBlanc's presenting role was revealed on Thursday.

The 48-year-old, best known for his role as Joey Tribbiani in Friends and more recently, as himself, in BBC Two sitcom Episodes, will be Top Gear's first non-British host in its 39-year history.

"I'm looking forward to smashing up some cars together," the star - speaking from his home in the US - told Evans.

He said he had already been contacted by friends wanting to appear on the re-booted Top Gear, with Formula One driver Romain Grosjean and "crazy, competitive lunatic" Episodes co-star Stephen Mangan keen to sign up.

Image caption LeBlanc appears in Episodes, as an exaggerated version of himself, alongside Tamsin Greig (left) and Stephen Mangan

It follows a Twitter post on Thursday, in which LeBlanc - who holds the record for the fastest ever celebrity lap in the show's "star in a reasonably priced car" segment - invited Mangan on to the show "to beat my time".

"Sure. How hard can it be?" responded Mangan, adding: "The clutch is the one in the middle, yeah?"

LeBlanc - who begins filming the fifth season of BBC show Episodes in April - is expected to join the production team immediately, telling Evans he already had someone house-hunting in the UK on his behalf.

Meanwhile, Evans appeared to reveal one of the new series' filming locations when, quizzing LeBlanc on his passport status, he said: "I also need to get you a visa for South Africa."

"I have a question for you," parried LeBlanc, "do I get the frequent flyer miles?"

The BBC Two show is set to return to TV screens in May this year, with additional presenters expected to be confirmed shortly.

Evans was named as Top Gear's new host last year after the BBC opted not to renew Jeremy Clarkson's contract in the wake of his much-publicised "fracas" with a Top Gear producer.

Likening their new partnership to "Joey and Chandler", LeBlanc told Evans: "I'm so honoured and thrilled. I can't wait to get going.

"I think we're going to have a great time and I couldn't think of a better guy to do it with. You and I are going to have a lot of fun."

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Media captionLeBlanc appeared on Top Gear in 2012 as the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car"

LeBlanc's appointment came as a huge surprise to fans and media alike, with even the bookmakers backfooted.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan called it "a brilliant choice" but former '90s Top Gear presenter Steve Berry said it was "an odd choice".

"When Jeremy Clarkson gives you an opinion you can respect it," he told BBC News. "When an actor says that line, does it have that authority?"

Clarkson, who subsequently signed up with streaming service Amazon Prime to present a new motoring show with former Top Gear co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May, has yet to comment on LeBlanc's presenting role.

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