Matt LeBlanc set to host 'Top Gear' solo after Chris Evans' exit

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Matt LeBlanc to Host 'Top Gear' Alone

With Chris Evans' departure from "Top Gear," the British automotive series is undergoing its second host change in a little more than a year. But don't expect a complete overhaul this time.

Sources tell Variety that Evans' co-host Matt LeBlanc will return for the show's 24th season, which is set to begin production in September. Contributors Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan, Rory Reid and Sabine Schmitz, who joined LeBlanc and Evans for season 23, are expected to return alongside LeBlanc for season 24. No replacement for Evans is expected to be named — leaving LeBlanc and the contributors to carry the show's on-camera responsibilities.

LeBlanc is also set to star this fall in the freshman CBS comedy series "Man With a Plan," his first starring role on U.S. broadcast TV in a decade. Under LeBlanc's deal with the studio, "Man With the Plan" is in first position, with the studio obliged to make a good-faith effort to accommodate his "Top Gear" hosting duties. "Top Gear" is expected to work around LeBlanc's CBS shooting schedule.

See photos of Matt LeBlanc through the years:

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Matt LeBlanc through the years
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Matt LeBlanc through the years
FILE - This is a Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012 file photo of Matt LeBlanc as he arrives at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles. The BBC said Thursday Feb. 4, 2016 that former "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc will be joining the broadcaster's popular "Top Gear" program, presenting the revamped car show with British TV presenter and DJ Chris Evans. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
Matt LeBlanc during 'Love Ride 8' for MDA at Glendale Harley Davidson in Glendale, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 3: Actor Matt LeBlanc attends 'The Professional' Beverly Hills Premiere on November 3, 1994 at the Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MARCH 5: Actor Matt LeBlanc, actress Lisa Kudrow, actor Matthew Perry, actress Jennifer Aniston, actress Courteney Cox and actor David Schwimmer attend the 21st Annual People's Choice Awards on March 5, 1995 at Sound Stage 12, Universal Studios in Universal City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
FRIENDS -- 'The One with the Chicken Pox' Episode 23 -- Air Date 05/09/1996 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing (Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Actor Matt LeBlanc poses for a photo outside the Warner Brothers studio Friday, Oct. 24, 1997 in Burbank, Calif. LeBlanc is one of the six costars of the hit NBC television series "Friends".(AP Photo/Susan Sterner)
Actors Matt LeBlanc, left, David Schwimmer, center, and Matthew Perry, of the television show "Friends," pose for photographers as they arrive at the 28th annual People's Choice Awards show in Pasadena, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2002. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
The cast members of the television show "Friends" arrive at New York's Rockefeller Center for NBC's 75th Anniversary event Sunday May 5, 2002. From left: Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox Arquettte, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Matthew Perry, left, and Matt LeBlanc accept the Choice TV Comedy Award for their show "Friends" at the Teen Choice Awards 2002 in Los Angeles, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2002. (AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson)
Photo by: Tim Goodwin STAR MAX, Inc. - copyright 2003 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Telephone/Fax: (212) 995-1196 6/18/03 Matt LeBlanc at the premiere of "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle". (CA) (Star Max via AP Images)
Co-stars from the comedy "Friends" Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc, left to right, make an award presentation during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003, at the Shrine Auditorium on Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Matt LeBlanc arrives for the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards with his wife Melissa McKnight, who is preganant, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. LeBlanc is nominated for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for his work on Friends. (AP Photos/Kim D. Johnson)
Actor Matt LeBlanc from the television show "Friends" arrives at the 30th Annual People's Choice Awards Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2004 file photo, Matt LeBlanc, nominated for best actor in a comedy or musical series for his work in "Friends," arrives at the 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, file)
Actors Matt LeBlanc, left, and Stephen Mangan take questions about the Showtime show "Episodes," during the 2011 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Friday Jan. 14, 2011 in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
FILE - In this July 29, 2010 file photo, actor Matt LeBlanc, from "Episodes", participates in a panel discussion at the CBS, Showtime and The CW Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. LeBlanc was nominated for an Emmy award for best actor in a comedy series for his role in âEpisodesâ on Thursday, July 14, 2011. The Emmy awards will be presented on Sept. 18 (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Actor Matt LeBlanc poses backstage with the award for Best Actor in a TV Series, Comedy or Musical for "Episodes" during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Tanika Ray and Matt Leblanc attend the CBS, Showtime and The CW 2012 TCA summer tour party at 9900 Wilshire Blvd on July 29, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
Matt LeBlanc arrives at the InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globe After Party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Actor Matt LeBlanc arrives at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards Performers Nominee Reception at the Pacific Design Center on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT - PREMIUM RATES APPLY Lizzy Caplan and Matt LeBlanc seen at Showtime's Holiday Soiree, on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Showtime/AP Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Matt LeBlanc (L) and Andrea Anders arrive at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Scott Kirkland/Invision for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences/AP Images)
Matt LeBlanc, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Mircea Monroe seen at Showtime's 2014 Winter TCA, on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Showtime/AP Images)
Actor Matt LeBlanc poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Nominees Allison Janney, left, and Matt LeBlanc attend the Television Academy's 66th Emmy Awards Performance Nominee Reception at the Pacific Design Center on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Andrea Anders and Matt LeBlanc seen at Showtime's 2014 Emmy Eve Soiree held at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Sunday, August 24, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Showtime/AP Images)
Andrea Anders, left and Matt LeBlanc arrive at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
CORRECTS ID - Actor Matt LeBlanc arrives for the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix auto race at the Circuit of the Americas, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc seen at Showtime's Annual Summer Soiree at 2015 TCA held at the Pacific Design Center on Monday, August 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Showtime/AP Images)
Matt LeBlanc attends the Miss Golden Globe InStyle Party held at Ysabel on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP)
Matt LeBlanc arrives at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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A representative for LeBlanc directed questions about his future on the show to the BBC. A BBC America spokesperson referred Variety to a previously released statement from BBC Studios director Mark Linsey saying that "the right people remain, on both the production team and presenting team to take the show forward and make it the hit we want it to be."

Evans announced his departure from the long-running BBC Two series, which has been broadcast in the United States on BBC America since 2007, on Monday. He wrote on Twitter, "Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best."

Poor ratings and reports in the U.K. tabloids of on- and off-set controversy provided the backdrop for Evans' exit. The season 23 finale dipped to a season-low 1.9 million overnight viewers in the U.K. earlier this month, fewer than half the show's average from the previous season. The finale faced stiff competition from the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, but was also beat by ITV's "Antiques Roadshow," which drew 3.9 million viewers. In the U.S., the first five episodes of season 24 have averaged 379,000 viewers for BBC America in Nielsen live-plus-three ratings — better than the network's primetime average, but well below previous seasons.

Evans, a well-known U.K. radio personality, signed a three-year deal last year to take over "Top Gear" hosting duties after former host Jeremy Clarkson was fired for punching a producer. Co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May left with Clarkson, and the three went on to sign a deal to develop a new show for Amazon Studios.

Evans' own tenure has also been hit by controversy. He has been the subject of sexual harassment allegations, with The Guardian reporting this week that Evans may be questioned by London police over claims dating back to the 1990s.

LeBlanc was added as Evans' co-host prior to the start of season 23, signing a one-season contract with an option for a second season. The actor had previously appeared as a celebrity guest on the show in 2012.

In June, Britain's Sun tabloid, citing unnamed sources, reported that LeBlanc had threatened to quit unless Evans was fired. LeBlanc's publicist shot the report down as baseless. Variety reported at the time that the actor was in talks with "Top Gear" producers over his future involvement with the show as he prepared to begin production on "Man With a Plan."

The Evans-LeBlanc "Top Gear" was poorly received by most critics and fans, but the bulk of negative sentiment was aimed at Evans. Website Digital Spy's critic wrote in a review of the season 23 finale, "When the right people — Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid, Chris Harris and Sabine Schmitz — are front and centre, there are moments where 'Top Gear' feels like it has found its feet."

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