Matt LeBlanc defies abuse from 'armchair quarterbacks' over Top Gear

Matt LeBlanc has said he faced his share of criticism from “armchair quarterbacks” when he stepped behind the wheel of Top Gear but that he just wanted to take the show forwards.

The former Friends star took over the BBC Two motoring programme alongside Chris Evans after the departure of hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

He told Radio Times: “I read some things on social media like: ‘Go home Yank’, ‘You Suck’, ‘Eff you’, ‘Eff this’, ‘Eff that’.

“They’re like armchair quarterbacks out there.

“But as a production team we are interested in moving the show forward.”

Chris Evans (Yui Mok/PA)

Chris quit Top Gear after one series following plummeting ratings and poor reviews, saying he gave it his best shot but it was “not enough”.

But Matt, 49, insists he does not focus on how many people are tuning in.

“I look at the ratings, but I don’t dwell on them,” he said.

“My job is to make the best programme I have the ability to make.

“Once the show is broadcast it’s out of my hands, so the old saying, ‘Don’t worry about things out of your control’ works here.”

Matt LeBlanc (Roderick Fountain/BBC Worldwide/PA)

The programme returns for a new series in March, with Matt back in the driving seat and Chris Harris and Rory Reid joining him as co-hosts.

The US star said he hoped viewers could give the revamped show a chance.

“Top Gear seems to come with all these preconceived notions and baggage because it’s been so controversial over the years,” said Matt.

“I would like people to sit down and try to watch it with an unbiased mind and just give it a chance. Is it entertaining? Even if you don’t like cars – are you entertained by it?

“That’s what we’re setting out to do. A little bit of escapism.”

Asked whether that meant viewers should forget what they think they know, he said: “Yeah, possibly… but will people be able to do that? And give it a fair shot? I don’t know.

“Are people going to watch it with Friends in mind? I don’t know.

“You know people have things imprinted in their brain. It’s hard to sit down and watch it with an unbiased mind. I just don’t know if people are going to be able to do that. I hope so.”

The Radio Times is on sale on Tuesday.

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