Matt LeBlanc To Leave BBC's Top Gear

The former Friends star cites the extensive time commitment needed to produce the show.

A little over two years after taking the reigns from Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May to headline the world's most popular car show, actor Matt LeBlanc has announced that he'll be leaving Top Gear at the end of next season, the BBC reports.

Unlike the unplanned departure of the original trio—not to mention LeBlanc's original co-host Chris Evans—the former Friends star is making his own decision to step down, citing the extensive time commitments needed to film Top Gear in a statement explaining his surprising move.

"[The] time commitment and extensive travel... takes me away from my family and friends more than I'm comfortable with," LeBlanc said, according to the BBC. "It's unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive."

Top Gear initially struggled after Clarkson, Hammond, and May left in 2015, with the new hosts struggling to find the chemistry that made the old trio so appealing. But by all accounts, the show has been hitting its stride since LeBlanc, Rory Reid, and Chris Harris took over the main presenting duties, with the latest season drawing solid reviews from fans and the press alike. The bizarre battles between LeBlanc and Harris in particular have been fun to watch.

LeBlanc may have seemed an odd choice at first, but the combination of his global appeal (the BBC points out that Top Gear is shown in over 150 markets around the world) and his actual driving skills made him a great fit for the show. Before becoming a host, he had set the Top Gear "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" course record with the Kia Cee'd as a guest in 2012.

But as the star of two other TV shows—Man With a Plan on CBS, and Episodes on BBC2/Showtime—it appears he's made a choice to pull back from this endeavor. Now the question is, who will replace him? It will likely need to be someone else with a similarly-broad recognition. We'll find out soon enough—provided they don't demolish the set first.