The BBC says motoring TV show Top Gear will not return to UK viewers’ screens “for the foreseeable future”, following a serious crash during filming last year.
According to the broadcaster, the decision has been taken to “rest the UK show” after former cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff was seriously injured in an accident at the Top Gear’s test track at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, Surrey, in December 2022.
Flintoff has presented Top Gear since 2019, working alongside TV presenter Paddy McGuinness and motoring journalist Chris Harris.
He was left with serious facial injuries after reportedly rolling a Morgan Super 3 three-wheeler at the track, before being airlifted to hospital. As a result of the accident, filming of the series was halted, and the BBC apologised to Flintoff. The two parties reached a settlement reported to be worth £9 million.
The ex-cricketer turned motoring show host was pictured in public for the first time since the accident in September, while working with the England cricket team. The images and video clearly showed scarring to his face and jaw. Last month, Flintoff’s lawyers told The Sun that the crash had left Flintoff with “life-altering” injuries.
Health and safety investigation concluded
The BBC said an external investigation into health and safety on Top Gear concluded in March 2023, although the results will not be published. However, a separate BBC statement said:
“While [the investigation found] BBC Studios had complied with the required BBC policies and industry best practice in making the show, there were important learnings which would need to be rigorously applied to future Top Gear UK productions.”
Rumours surrounding the show’s future have been circulating for months, with The Sun claiming “insiders” had told the paper there was no way back for the TV show after Flintoff’s crash.
Now, the BBC has officially confirmed the show will not continue, telling fans the decision to end the show now was “the right thing to do.”
However, the BBC’s statement said it appreciated the decision may be “disappointing news” for some, and the corporation was “committed to Freddie, Chris and Paddy… and we’re excited about new projects being developed with each of them. We will have more to say in the near future on this.”
Top Gear USA continues
The BBC also confirmed “other Top Gear activity”, including the magazine and international versions of the show, such as Top Gear USA, would be unaffected by the decision.
The loss of the TV show may come as a blow to the BBC’s viewing figures, with the most recent series drawing in 4.5 million viewers. Such a result was hugely positive for the show, which had been in a state of flux since the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
After the BBC announced Clarkson’s contract would not be renewed following an altercation with a producer in a North Yorkshire hotel in 2015, the show was passed on to Chris Evans and a cohort of other part-time presenters. These included former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc and motoring journalists Chris Harris and Rory Reid.
With that format struggling, Top Gear reverted to the three-presenter line-up, with LeBlanc, Harris and Reid taking the reins. Reid and LeBlanc left the show in 2019, replaced by Flintoff and McGuinness.
Flintoff not back on the telly yet
Ashes-winning cricketer Flintoff, now 45, has returned to work in cricket, but is yet to make a return to his TV career. The track at which he sustained his injuries, is reportedly being bulldozed to create a housing estate.
Flintoff has not commented publicly since the accident, and he has only spoken on camera since the crash in an England Cricket social media video, in which he is seen presenting cricketer Tom Hartley with his One Day International cap.
The former presenter made only a passing reference to his injuries, saying: “As I found over the past few months, [people in cricket] will be there in the hardest times of your life.”
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