Friday 28 October 2016

Top Gear co-host Matt LeBlanc hails show as 'international juggernaut'

Published 27/05/2016 | 13:11

Matt LeBlanc on the Graham Norton Show
Matt LeBlanc on the Graham Norton Show
From left, Matt LeBlanc, Emilia Clarke, Graham Norton, Kate Beckinsale, Dominic Cooper and Corinne Bailey Rae

Matt LeBlanc has hailed Top Gear's global popularity, calling the BBC Two series an "international juggernaut".

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Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, which is due to be broadcast on Friday night, the new co-host discussed Top Gear's reach overseas.

LeBlanc said: "The show is a lot bigger than I thought it was. It's an international juggernaut of a show - it's massive.

"It premieres this Sunday and by Wednesday, it will be in 83 countries on six continents. It's just huge."

Headed by Chris Evans, the new incarnation boasts a line-up including four other hosts, plus The Stig.

LeBlanc's appointment marks the first time the show has ever had a non-British host in its 39-year history.

The former Friends star was a two-time guest on the show and the fastest celebrity to date around the Top Gear track in its reasonably priced car.

On the subject of how he landed the job, the 48-year-old said: "I did it (Top Gear) the first time to promote Episodes and went around the track which went pretty good, and I went back again in a new car to see if I could beat my old record.

"Then they had a clip show, Top Gear The Racers, which I introduced. Chris was on board already and I was asked if I'd like to be part of it. It sounded cool and I wasn't doing anything else. It's a lot of fun."

LeBlanc also teased Sunday's first episode, which appears to have a transatlantic theme.

"We had to drive Renault Reliant Rialtos with the roofs cut off, which is great with the British weather, from London to Blackpool," he told host Norton.

"Mine broke down about 10 times and I think Chris had it fixed because it's UK versus USA.

"We're in English cars - his is painted like the Union Jack and mine is the Stars and Stripes - and mine breaks down repeatedly and his runs like a clock! Go figure."

Although best known to millions around the world for his 10-year role as Friends' Joey Tribbiani, LeBlanc said he is a "petrolhead".

"I'm one of those people who subscribe to about 15 different car magazines - I've been doing that forever and a friend said the other day, 'It's finally paid off!'"

LeBlanc revealed that he has a big bulldozer on his range in the US.

"I use it to re-surface the motocross track or just use it to knock stuff down," he said.

"I thought I needed one and I started looking and my friends said, 'Don't get one too big.' And I was like, 'What do you know?' It's way bigger than I need, but I love it."

Despite all the headlines about Top Gear, Joey rarely goes away. LeBlanc told Norton one story about his ever-present alter ego.

"Friends just follows me around," he said.

"I was recording a piece to the dashboard camera of the broken down car while being towed and driving past were two guys in a plumber's truck who shouted out, 'How you doin'?' We kept it in the show."

Norton's other guests are Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, Hollywood actors Kate Beckinsale and Dominic Cooper, and singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae.

:: The Graham Norton Show is broadcast on May 27 at 10.35pm on BBC One.

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