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Jodie Kidd and James Martin among stars linked to Top Gear hosting job

Jodie Kidd, James Martin and Guy Martin are among the stars being linked to Top Gear following Matt LeBlanc’s departure announcement.

The actor and TV presenter is leaving the BBC Two motoring show after hosting one more series later this year.

Model, car enthusiast and racing driver Kidd is among the most popular names to take over the steering wheel of the show, according to bookmakers William Hill, who have put her at 6/1 odds.

James Martin at the Chelsea Flower Show 2018
Will James Martin swap cooking for cars? (Jonathan Brady/PA)

She is in joint first place with TV chef James and motorcycle racer and broadcaster Guy after the first rush of bets came in.

William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly said: “When the market first opened on Thursday night, Guy Martin, James Martin and Jenson Button were the favourites.

“However, since then, pretty much every penny has been for Jodie Kidd and she has joined the front of the race.”

Kidd was previously linked to Top Gear three years ago when long-running hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left following Clarkson’s altercation with a producer.

She was a favourite due to her previous attempt at driving the programme’s “reasonably priced car” the Liana back in 2003, notching up an impressive one minute and 48 seconds around the track.

At the time, Kidd ruled herself out of the running to join the then newly confirmed presenter Chris Evans, who went on to helm the programme for one series alongside LeBlanc in 2016.

Guy Martin
Guy Martin is another popular choice for the Top Gear job (Chris Radburn/PA)

She said: “If I were to accept Top Gear it would be completely all-consuming. Top Gear is the most brilliant show on this planet but it would just take over your soul.”

Former Saturday Kitchen host James was also hotly tipped for the job at the time, but he later said that cars are purely a hobby for him and that he prefers working on food-related programmes.

Guy is already known to viewers for his work on Channel 4 programmes, including Speed With Guy Martin, although in 2015 he said he turned down the Top Gear job at the time after being asked by the show’s producers.

Former Formula 1 star Button’s odds are at 8/1, along with The X Factor’s Dermot O’Leary and Life On Mars actor Philip Glenister.

Matt LeBlanc
Matt LeBlanc will leave Top Gear after the next series (Clint Davis/BBC)

Other names in the running according to William Hill are TV presenter and racing driver Rebecca Jackson, ex-Formula 1 stars David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine, actor Steve Coogan and Formula 1 presenter Suzi Perry.

After it was revealed that LeBlanc will be leaving Top Gear, Patrick Holland, controller for BBC Two, said that there are “great plans to welcome a new co-host to join the team for 2019 and beyond”.

LeBlanc said he is stepping down because “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”.

He added, in a statement on Thursday: “It’s unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show.”

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