Matt LeBlanc is “the captain Top Gear truly needs going forward”, his former co-host Chris Evans has said.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Radio 2 presenter Evans said he had tried his best at the helm of the motoring show, but it “was not meant to be”.
Friends star LeBlanc was “the man” and a “total mensch”, Evans said, contrary to reports the pair’s relationship broke down during filming.
Evans announced he was stepping down from the BBC Two show after one series.
His resignation came after falling ratings for the show – which hit a series low on its last episode, with an average of 1.9 million viewers.
In February, a BBC boss denied reports in the press that Evans’s behaviour during filming had been unprofessional, calling them “rubbish”.
Suggestions that Evans had not supported the signing of LeBlanc were “simply not true” and the team was “tight-knit”, acting director of BBC Television Mark Linsey added.
‘He’s the man’
Evans said working on Top Gear had been an “honour, privilege and a pleasure”, but he had been “a square peg in a round hole”.
However, the series had showed LeBlanc and Top Gear “were made for each other”, he said.
“For me, he is the man. He is the captain Top Gear truly needs going forward, the perfect torso for the rest of TG’s limbs,” he wrote.
“Not only does he eat, sleep, breathe and dream engines, propshafts and trail-braking, but the overwhelming quality that struck me about him is that he’s just such a pro.
“The whole time I worked with him, he never once looked at the clock, was never late on set, knew his lines inside out and back to front and, most importantly on such an intense production, he always had time for everyone, especially the crew.”
Evans said working on the programme for a year had been a “dream” and “the Top Gear ship has been steadily refloated” following the departure of former presenting team Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
He also paid tribute to the production team for their work on bringing the popular programme back on screen.
“The Top Gear gang are the most driven (forgive the pun) and dedicated I have ever worked with,” he said.
“There is nothing those guys won’t do to make every second of on-air content shine to its maximum potential.”
The BBC said it had no plans to replace Evans when Top Gear returns for a 24th season.
Clarkson, Hammond and May’s new venture with Amazon, the Grand Tour, is expected to be released in the autumn.