Top Gear is shelved: BBC says it will ‘rest’ the motoring show ‘for the foreseeable future’ after horror crash nearly killed host Freddie Flintoff

Top Gear will be rested for the ‘foreseeable future’ after host Freddie Flintoff was nearly killed during a horrific crash last year, the BBC announced today. 

Production of the hit motoring show has been halted since former England cricket captain, 45, was taken to hospital in December 2022 after he was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

Following the crash, the BBC announced that it would pause production on the show, co-presented by Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness and automotive journalist Chris Harris, as it was felt it would be ‘inappropriate’, adding there would be a health and safety review.

In a statement, the BBC said: ‘Given the exceptional circumstances, the BBC has decided to rest the UK show for the foreseeable future.

‘The BBC remains committed to Freddie, Chris and Paddy who have been at the heart of the show’s renaissance since 2019, and we’re excited about new projects being developed with each of them.

Freddie Flintoff, pictured, scraped his face ‘horrifically’ after he rolled a three-wheel Morgan Super 3 while on the Top Gear test track

The Morgan Super 3, pictured, has three wheels and is open topped. Flintoff was travelling at 22mph when he flipped it

The Morgan Super 3, pictured, has three wheels and is open topped. Flintoff was travelling at 22mph when he flipped it

‘We will have more to say in the near future on this. We know resting the show will be disappointing news for fans, but it is the right thing to do.’

‘All other Top Gear activity remains unaffected by this hiatus including international formats, digital, magazines and licensing.’

The UK show is currently sold to more 150 territories and there are 11 local format versions including in the United States, France and Finland.

Top Gear magazine is the world’s largest monthly motoring magazine with 30 licensed local editions, including China, France and Japan

In addition, BBC Studios said a health and safety production review of Top Gear, which did not cover the accident but instead looked at previous seasons, found that ‘while 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.’

A statement added: ‘The report includes a number of recommendations to improve approaches to safety as Top Gear is a complex programme-making environment routinely navigating tight filming schedules and ambitious editorial expectations – challenges often experienced by long-running shows with an established on and off screen team.

‘Learnings included a detailed action plan involving changes in the ways of working, such as increased clarity on roles and responsibilities and better communication between teams for any future Top Gear production.’

Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris with a Porsche 911 GT2 RS and an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in a publicity photo taken at Billingsgate Market

Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris with a Porsche 911 GT2 RS and an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in a publicity photo taken at Billingsgate Market 

The investigation looked at series 32, 33 and production of series 34 up to the December 22 accident, the PA news agency understands.

There was a separate investigation into Flintoff’s crash which was concluded in March of this year and those findings will not being published.

In September, father-of-four Flintoff was photographed for the first time in public since the crash and had visible facial injuries as he joined up with the England cricket squad for their one-day international series against New Zealand.

He has since made a gradual return to the public eye and last week it was announced Flintoff has been appointed as head coach of the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred, replacing ex-England wicketkeeper James Foster.

Flintoff and McGuinness made their debut as Top Gear hosts in June 2019.

The Ashes-winning sportsman and Take Me Out host McGuinness joined Chris Harris from the 27th series of the BBC Two show in the main presenting line-up.

Harris started as a lead host on Top Gear in 2017.

The accident was not the first faced by Flintoff since he began working on the show.

In February 2019 the presenter was involved in a minor incident when he crashed into a market stall in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

The presenting line-up of Top Gear has made headlines for better and worse over the years.

Former Friends star Matt LeBlanc joined Top Gear in 2016, but announced his departure from the show in 2018 due to the demands of the role and how much it kept him away from his family and friends.

The American actor was a surprise addition to the Top Gear presenting line-up along with presenter and radio star Chris Evans, following the departure of previous hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

LeBlanc continued hosting the show after Evans threw in the towel after just one series.

Clarkson was dropped from the flagship BBC show in 2015, over what the corporation called an ‘unprovoked physical attack’ on a show producer.

After his BBC exit, fellow presenters May and Hammond remained loyal, ruling out returning to the BBC show without their co-host, and the trio moved to Prime Video to front The Grand Tour.

Top Gear timeline: What happened after Jeremy Clarkson’s departure?  

Following Jeremy Clarkson’s departure, Top Gear has undergone various revamps before the BBC announced it would pause the show for the ‘foreseeable future’.

The long-standing motoring show, which began under a new format in 2002, has seen big changes to its presenting line-up since 2015.

Here is a round-up of big moments in the show’s history:

2015

– March 10: BBC says Clarkson has been suspended after a ‘fracas’ with a producer on the show.

– March 25: Then director-general of the BBC Lord Tony Hall says the corporation will not renew Clarkson’s contract following an investigation. This event would then bring the resignation of Richard Hammond and James May.

– June 16: Chris Evans is announced as part of the Top Gear presenting line-up.

2016

– February: Former Friends star Matt LeBlanc is confirmed as co-host to join radio DJ Evans.

– March 14: The BBC ‘sincerely apologises’ for Top Gear filming near The Cenotaph in London, saying that the war memorial was not intended to be featured and will not appear in the programme.

– July 4: Chris Evans steps down, saying he gave it his ‘best shot’ but ‘standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help’ the show move forward.

2018

– May 31: LeBlanc will leave Top Gear after the next series, BBC Studios announces.

– October 22: Take Me Out star Paddy McGuinness and former England cricket player Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff confirmed as presenters as they join motoring journalist and racing driver Chris Harris.

2022

– December 13: Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is taken to hospital after an accident at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey while filming the show.

2023

– March 23: BBC Studios conclude an investigation into Flintoff’s accident, saying ‘it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time’.

– October 13: BBC Studios, which does not use licence fee income, confirms it has reached a financial settlement with Flintoff. The agreement was reportedly worth £9 million.

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