Top Gear brings in experts for 'precision driving'
They tune in to watch daring off-road car challenges and 200mph laps in supercars, but fans of Top Gear may not realise that they are often watching stunt doubles.
And Matt LeBlanc has now opened up about the industry secret, admitting that when challenges get ‘really crazy’ or need ‘real precision driving’ he draughts in a stunt driver.
Speaking ahead of the revamped series launching on Sunday, the 48-year-old said he will only do what he feels ‘comfortable’ with and said insurance firms are involved in the decision-making.
He told Radio Times: ‘I’m not going to pretend I do all my own stunts. I do as much as I’m comfortable with.
‘When it gets really crazy, I have a stunt driver. That’s no secret. Insurance companies are involved. If something calls for real precision driving, I let someone else do it.’
As the BBC seeks to attract a similar audience to the original series, it is also understood that Chris Evans, 50, has a stunt double.
Yet LeBlanc’s approach of admitting it ahead of the show is in contrast to his predecessors, including Jeremy Clarkson, who came under fire for ‘fakery’ when the use of stunt doubles was revealed years after popular episodes of the show.
In 2011, sources within the BBC show claimed that Clarkson’s 200mph Lamborghini stunt in 2008 was done by Formula 3 racing driver Aaron Scott.
Race track and stunt driver Niki Faulkner came forward as his regular stunt double and has spoken previously about the reasons behind being brought in.
He said: ‘It doesn’t make sense for Jeremy to do some of the really time consuming stuff as he just doesn’t have time during the filming schedule.
‘It’s not a case that Jeremy can’t do it, in fact he’s pretty good at drifting but the difficulty is drifting for camera.
'You have to be very precise and the car has to be at a certain angle every single time. It’s almost impossible to deliver entertaining lines while trying to bag a specific shot.’
Stunt doubles are also expected to feature in Amazon’s new Top Gear-style show, The Grand Tour.
In December, a man was pictured wearing a mask of Richard Hammond’s face while driving his Maserati, during a day of filming with James May and Clarkson.
LeBlanc also said he was hopeful of persuading former Friends co-stars David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox onto the show, and refuted claims that he and co-host Chris Evans don’t get on.
He told Radio Times: ‘All this stuff that Chris and I are at war with each other is a big load of bulls**t. We’ve never had a rift! I’m a true car fan, Chris is a true car fan.
We're hanging out, having a laugh, doing our best. He is an extremely smart guy. I'd beat him in a race, though - and you can tell him I said that."
On the possibility of the Friends cast being reunited on the show, he said: 'Yeah, who knows, down the road. (David) Schwimmer is into cars. After him it's probably Courteney (Cox).
‘She’s a car nut, believe it or not. She’s forever asking me about cars and I’m forever talking her out of some rubbish she wants to buy.’