Good news: Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid are returning to Top Gear. Bad news: it won't be until 2018.
If you look at Top Gear's viewing figures this year, you might think that BBC bosses are writing it off as a failure. When it aired in the UK last week, the season finale drew in an average of 1.89 million viewers. That doesn't account for online streaming, but that's less than the lowest rated episode last year with Chris Evans which was an all-time low for the show. Thankfully, the BBC still has faith in Top Gear. According to the Radio Times, presenters Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid will be returning to front the next series – but it won't air until 2018.
In the past when Clarkson, Hammond and May hosted the show, there were traditionally two series of Top Gear every year. Seven episodes of the world's biggest car show in one year just doesn't seem like enough - even The Grand Tour had 10 episodes in its opening series. Despite dwindling ratings in the series finale, the BBC is pleased with the show's overall performance and reception this year. "The first five episodes of 'Top Gear', which we have consolidated figures for, have been enjoyed by an average of 3.4 million people each week," a BBC spokesperson told The Sun. "Although the series hasn't had any major issues, it hasn't attracted the huge numbers it used to," an insider added.
"This year was all about stability because it is a huge global brand for the Beeb and has to work for them." Speaking to The Radio Times, BBC2 controller Patrick Holland revealed that the new series attracted a younger audience with a growth in reach for under 34s and 16s, and praised the performance of the show's new presenters. "The doubt at the beginning, the fear when a show comes back is will the audience grow to like this new presenting combo? And we are starting again this year," he said. And I think they really have and Chris and Rory have grown and Matt has made it his own show. We are turning over a new leaf."
I think Chris and Rory have been fantastic, I think Matt has really been terrific on the films. I think he really started to enjoy the studios more and more." LeBlanc seemed stilted in the studio at times, but seemed to get more comfortable towards the end of the series. It's a shame we'll have to wait until 2018 for the next series, but at least we'll have the new series of The Grand Tour and the upcoming revival of Top Gear USA to tide us over later this year.