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Top Gear: LeBlanc holding out for higher pay
Matt LeBlanc could hold the BBC to ransom over a double or quits deal to keep him as the sole host of the new Top Gear.
The notoriously tough negotiator is expected to demand a considerable wage increase following Chris Evans decision to quit the show after a disastrous first season.
The former TFI Friday host announced he was leaving yesterday after admitting he had given it his 'best shot but sometimes that's not enough'.
Since he and LeBlanc took over, viewing figures plummeted from an average of 6.49million during the final series featuring original presenting trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May to less than two million.
Evans, 50, had been much maligned by viewers for his 'shouty' approach to hosting.
However, fans fell in love with 48-year-old LeBlanc - who BBC bosses are now desperate to hold on to.
Both hosts were thought to be earning around £500,000(NZ$902,00)-a-series for their roles as the new faces of the hugely popular global franchise.
Former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans during one of his most uncomfortable scenes, with fellow presenter Sabine Schmitz.
But with the national broadcaster already confirming that Evans will not be replaced, the former Friends star is in an incredibly strong position to make himself one of the publicly funded corporation's highest earners.
He could even join the likes of former footballer and television personality Gary Lineker and talkshow host Graham Norton on a seven-figure salary.
If tasked with absorbing his former presenting partner's share of the work, LeBlanc could push to have his wage doubled to £1million per six episode series.
A spokesman for the BBC declined to comment on the American's future role in the show.
They did concede, however, that there will be no changes to the programme going forward - stressing the pivotal role LeBlanc is set to play in their future plans.
The accomplished comedy actor was the key broker in securing the cast of Friends an eye-watering $1million-per-episode deal for the final season of the hit U.S comedy - the biggest deal ever given to stars of a television show.
Asked years later about that massive wage, he responded: 'Do I think we were worth it? Were we worth $1million? To me, that’s such a strange question. It’s like, well, that’s irrelevant.
"Are you worth it? How do you put a price on how funny something is?
"We were in a position to get it. If you’re in a position in any job, no matter what the job is — if you’re driving a milk truck or installing TVs or an upholsterer for a couch — if you’re in a position to get a raise and you don’t get it, you’re stupid. You know what I mean?
"We were in a position and we were able to pull it off. 'Worth it' has nothing to do with it."