The Mirror has reported that new Top Gear hosts Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc looked far from friends as they arrived at Heathrow airport yesterday, amid rumours that the alliance between the pair was fragile. Evans stormed ahead of the team and hailed a taxi directly, rather than jumping into the waiting Top Gear car with LeBlanc after they returned from filming in Venice. A witness has also claimed that moments earlier they saw Evans arguing with one of his crew members in the terminal building. “There were raised voices and Chris looked utterly fed-up,” the witness said.
Just a few days ago the BBC confirmed that it had entrusted the editorial control of Top Gear to Clare Pizey, a former head of factual entertainment at the channel. But Top Gear’s infamous ‘insider’ says the appointment and recent Cenotaph controversy has done little to help Evans and LeBlanc’s fragile relationship – even suggesting that there was tension between them on the recent road trip from Turin to Venice.
“Chris felt Matt didn’t take the Cenotaph incident seriously enough,” the insider said. “And Matt hasn’t been happy about being blamed for it, with Chris saying he knew nothing about it. Another issue is Chris is involved in sorting out filming and the nuts and bolts of the show as ‘creative lead’. Matt, on the other hand, just turns up and treats the whole thing as a blast. It’s been quite a stressful time for Chris. He feels his neck is on the block and he was never mad keen on Matt being part of it.”
Matt LeBlanc has reportedly forged a stronger friendship with co-presenter Eddie Jordan, with the insider adding: “Eddie really bonded with the team in South Africa. He knows Matt from Formula One – Matt often attended races. They both love a party. Chris is great company when he’s not under pressure, but right now he’s ratty and tired.”
We’ll have to wait and see if any of this off-screen tension makes its way into Series 23 of Top Gear when it airs in May, or whether some tricky editing is enough to conceal it.