Matt Leblanc feels the Top Gear presenting team work better together without original host Chris Evans.
The British TV and radio personality took over as the lead presenter of the BBC motoring show after the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in 2015, with LeBlanc hired to provide a little stardust to a team that also included motoring experts Chris Harris and Rory Reid.
The revamped show quickly ran in to trouble amid reports of friction between the star and his co-host, a scandal over a stunt filmed next to London’s Cenotaph war memorial, and falling ratings – causing Evans to resign after just one series.
LeBlanc, Harris and Reid have hosted the following two seasons together and have earned better reviews – something the 50-year-old actor puts down to them having better chemistry without their ex-colleague.
“I think the second season, after Chris left, it became more of a collaboration,” he tells British newspaper The Times. “I don’t know if easier is the right word. Certainly we’re more productive, more creative.”
Despite confessing that he feels the show works better without Evans, the former Friends star says that reports of bust-ups between them are inaccurate.
“I didn’t realise I’d be stepping into a media s**tstorm,” he explains. “I didn’t know he was leaving. I get along fine with the guy. I read it in the paper.”
Although he put a brave face on during the show’s troubled rebirth, LeBlanc confesses he is sensitive to criticism, saying, “Of course you care what critics say. You don’t want people talkin’ bad about you.”
The third and latest series of Top Gear finishes on 1 April (18).