Top Gear taken off air by BBC following Freddie Flintoff crash
The BBC has announced that Top Gear will not be returning to TV “for the foreseeable future” following presenter Freddie Flintoff being involved in a crash that led to production of the last series being halted.
In a statement, the BBC said it has “decided to rest the UK show”.
The former England cricket captain turned broadcaster was taken to hospital by air ambulance last December due to a high-speed crash at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey, which has featured regularly in the BBC show since 2002. It was not his first accident, having previously lost control of a motorised trike at 124mph in a race against co-hosts Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness.
The decision to take the motoring show off screens came after an external BBC health and safety investigation which they will not publish. A separate health and safety report which looked at previous series of Top Gear found that “there were important learnings” for the way the programme was produced.
Following the accident, the BBC apologised to the presenter and reached a financial settlement with him that is reported to be worth £9m. He has been seen in public sporting facial injuries and his legal team recently told The Sun that he was still recovering from “life-altering injuries”.
Flintoff’s is the not first severe accident to have affected the health of a presenter. Richard Hammond, who presented the series alongside Jeremy Clarkson and James May in the 2000s and early 2010s, was nearly killed at York’s Elvington airfield in 2006 when a dragster he was driving spun while travelling at 288mph. Doctors described him as having suffered a “significant brain injury” as a result of a jet-propelled attempt to break the British land speed record. He spent a fortnight in a coma.
Flintoff joined BBC One’s Top Gear as a host in 2019 alongside Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris. Their most recent series attracted an average audience of 4.5 million viewers.
The BBC added it “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. 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.”