Matt LeBlanc (centre) currently hosts Top Gear, alongside Chris Harris (L) and Rory Reid (R). Picture: Supplied

London - Matt LeBlanc has announced that he is leaving Top Gear so that he can spend more time with his family.

The former Friends star revealed he will quit after the upcoming series of the long-running BBC motoring programme.

LeBlanc, 50 – the fifth presenter to leave the show in the past two years – said he was not "comfortable" with how much time he was spending away from his family.

He said his "experience on Top Gear has been great fun", and he had "thoroughly enjoyed working with the whole team".

But he added: "The time commitment and extensive travel required to present Top Gear takes me away from my family and friends more than I’m comfortable with. It’s unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive."

Father-of-one LeBlanc will present his final series later this year.

The actor was a surprise addition along with Chris Evans two years ago, following the sudden departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May - who now present a rival show for Amazon.

Evans threw in the towel after just one series, while LeBlanc continued with co-hosts Chris Harris and Rory Reid.

However, ratings continued to drop. Top Gear’s series launch in 2016 – with Evans and LeBlanc in the driving seat – attracted 4.4 million viewers.

The following year, just 2.8 million tuned in to watch LeBlanc front the programme with Harris and Reid. And this year, the opening episode of LeBlanc’s third series was watched by only 2.4 million.

Patrick Holland, controller for BBC Two, said: "I want to thank the fabulous Matt LeBlanc for being a brilliant co-host on Top Gear. Matt has thrown himself into the show with real passion, revealing his extraordinary car knowledge and a willingness to get down and dirty.

"We were always going to be borrowing him from his day job as one of the top comic actors in Hollywood so I wish him all the very best. We have great plans to welcome a new co-host to join the team for 2019 and beyond."

Daily Mail