The ‘Friends’ star is returning at the helm of the rebooted show, and he tells Radio Times he doesn’t mind if this means his ideas don’t make it to the final cut.
He says: “With comedy, you kind of leave your ego at the door and go in and feel free to try stuff. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s [he laughs]… less than good.”
And he adds that he didn’t know his ‘Top Gear’ co-presenter had resigned from the show until he heard the news from somebody else, saying he knew only that Chris was becoming stressed by the stories in the press about his mishandling of the role.
Matt says: “Everything was going along smoothly and then he started… all those stories in the press came out about him and he seemed a little stressed about it all. The next thing I knew he had resigned. I didn’t know. I was a little surprised.”
With Evans’ resignation comes a new lineup – Matt, plus Chris Harris and Rory Reid, with creative control back in the hands of series editor Alex Renton. Matt reveals he has encountered some hostility to his position at the centre of a very British national treasure, but it’s something he can brush off.
“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.”
As for the looming competition of ‘The Grand Tour’, which started with great ratings in the autumn before the hullabaloo died down somewhat for its tenure on AmazonPrime, Matt says diplomatically there is room for both shows, and that, although he isn’t friends with Jeremy Clarkson, he has every admiration for his skills as a presenter and writer – spoken like somebody with some confidence for the new series.
‘Top Gear’ returns on Sunday 5 March at 8pm on BBC Two. Read the full interview in next week’s Radio Times, on sale from Tuesday 28 February 2017