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An American Is Left to Salvage BBC’s Ailing ‘Top Gear’

  • Public broadcaster’s biggest show crucial for overseas growth
  • Commercial arm seeks U.S. gains with AMC deal, streaming plan
Matt LeBlanc during a filming of Top Gear in London in February 2016.

Matt LeBlanc during a filming of Top Gear in London in February 2016.

Photographer: Neil Mockford/Alex Huckle/GC Images via Getty Images

In the U.S. television sitcom “Friends,” struggling actor Joey relies on a winning personality to compensate for his naivete, stumbling into everything from advertising gigs to dates. Now Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey, has lucked into a similar role in the U.K.

The American actor is poised to take the lead at “Top Gear,” the British Broadcasting Corp.’s most lucrative entertainment franchise, after star presenter Jeremy Clarkson left the car show and his replacement, radio host Chris Evans, flopped almost instantly.