COMEDIAN Paddy McGuinness and former cricket player Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff will take on presenting duties for the next series of Top Gear, the BBC has confirmed.
The pair will partner Chris Harris on Series 27 of the show, replacing former Friends star Matt LeBlanc. According to the Sun, McGuinness and Flintoff will each be paid £500,000 in their new roles, with the pair presenting the programme until 2021.
Rory Reid will be dropped from the main show to exclusively front Top Gear’s spin-off programme, Extra Gear. It was also revealed Reid will “form the heart of a larger digital presence for the [Top Gear] show” going forward.
Reid responded to the news by tweeting a GIF of a scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, in which the T-1000 is shattered into pieces, before reforming.
— Rory Reid (@MrRoryReid) 22 October 2018
German racing driver Sabine Schmitz will be retained as a guest presenter. We have asked the BBC for clarification on whether the former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan will also stay on as an occasional host.
In a statement, Chris Harris said: “I think you can tell just how much fun we’re going to have making Top Gear with Paddy and Freddie. They’re both brilliant, natural entertainers – and their mischief mixed with the most exciting cars on the planet is sure to take the show to the next level.”
Overall responses to the signings have been mixed. Though some have suggested bringing McGuinness and Flintoff on “could be a genius move”, others are less than impressed.
Fifth Gear (and former Top Gear) host Tiff Needell also fears it is “a step too far into the ‘light entertainment’ world” for the car show.
And now there’s only one … car journalist on @BBC_TopGear. No doubt Paddy and Freddie will bring plenty of laughs but, for car fans, I fear it’s a step too far into the ‘light entertainment’ world!!
— Tiff Needell (@tiff_tv) October 22, 2018
Sun reader Eduardo Cianelli also acknowledged the importance of experience and knowledge: “Clarkson, Hammond & May are actual motor journalists, all three excellent writers and presenters in their own right. All three possess a quirky sense of humor. [Then-executive producer Andy] Wilman rightly used those ingredients and made Top Gear great.”
Matt LeBlanc confirmed in July 2018 he would not return to Top Gear after filming for Series 26 wrapped. A desire to spend more time with friends and family was cited as the main reason behind his decision to quit the motoring TV show.
Before the new presenters join Top Gear, one final series featuring the current Chris Harris, Rory Reid and Matt LeBlanc trio will air in early 2019. The BBC has yet to confirm a specific launch date for either the 26th or 27th series of Top Gear.