In Depth

Top Gear season 26: trailers, release date, presenters and what to expect

Rory Reid and Matt LeBlanc will be fronting the BBC motoring show for final time

Top Gear returns to BBC Two on Sunday, the final series of the motoring show to be headed by former Friends star Matt LeBlanc.

Reviews of the show were lukewarm following the departure of original hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in 2015, but last year’s running was widely considered a major improvement. 

And although Top Gear is due to undergo another major shake-up in 2020, with two new presenters, the upcoming season 26 will retain the format that has seen the show regaining its former popularity.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new series:

When does it come out?

Episode one of season 26 airs on BBC Two at 8pm on Sunday 17 February, says iNews. The series will run for five episodes, each an hour in length. 

After each episode, a 30-minute show called Extra Gear can be streamed online through BBC iPlayer. The spin-off features cut footage from the main episode, along with behind-the-scenes shots and celebrity interviews.

Who are the presenters?

Chris Harris, Rory Reid and Matt LeBlanc return for the 26th season, although it will be the final time the trio front the motoring show together. 

The BBC announced in October that LeBlanc would be stepping down as the show’s host and that Reid would be moving to Extra Gear - a 30-minute online series that airs straight after each episode of Top Gear.

Reid and LeBlanc will be replaced by former England cricket captain Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff and Take Me Out host Patrick “Paddy” McGuinness. 

Harris, who joined the series in 2016, will remain as the third presenter. 

What can we expect?

Luxury cars seem to be the key theme of the new series. 

The first trailer opens with Bentley’s new Continental GT being driven along gravel-covered mountain roads, followed by a scene showing the British marque’s grand tourer seemingly going head-to-head with the firm’s 2002 Speed 8 Le Mans car at the Ascari circuit in Spain.

Chris Harris is also seen taking Porsche’s 691bhp GT2 RS supercar for a spin at the Top Gear test track in Dunsfold, Surrey, says Radio Times

In addition, the two presenters are joined by Rory Reid to race three old luxury cars, including a Bentley and a Mercedes, at what appears to be an endurance event at the Silverstone grand prix circuit. 

Another trailer, released earlier this week, shows LeBlanc racing Ferrari’s new GTC4 Lusso against Harris’s Porsche Panamera down a military airstrip. This could be part of a road trip featuring the two grand tourers, but fans will have to wait until Sunday evening to find out. 

Luxury cars aren’t the only theme here, though, with the presenters taking part in a road trip across Sri Lanka in old tuk-tuk taxis. 

And in “true Top Gear style”, Harris can be heard calling LeBlanc “such an idiot” as a tuk-tuktumbles down a mountainside, the Daily Mail reports.

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