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Top Gear future in doubt as BBC halts show following Freddie Flintoff crash

Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff in Season 29 of Top Gear

The future of long-running BBC entertainment format Top Gear is in doubt after the pubcaster hit the brakes on the show following an accident involving one of its presenters.

The UK pubcaster has said it will not resume filming on the latest season of Top Gear following BBC Studios’ investigation into the accident in December last year that saw Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, injured in a crash.

The former England cricket captain Flintoff, part of the Top Gear co-presenting team since 2019, was airlifted to hospital after a high-speed car accident. He has since revealed he could quit as a co-presenter as a result of the accident, according to The Times, and was also involved in a high-speed crash while filming the show in 2019, when he was able to walk away from the scene.

A review of the accident in December last year by government agency the Health & Safety Executive found no evidence of any serious failings requiring a formal investigation, The Daily Mail reported last month.

“BBC Studios has concluded its investigation into the accident at the Top Gear Test Track in Surrey last December, which regrettably injured presenter Freddie Flintoff. We have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery,” the BBC said in a statement.

“Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making season 34 of Top Gear at this time. We understand this will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgement about how best to continue later this year.

“This has also impacted the production team, who we continue to support. Finally, there will be a health and safety review of the show, in line with our procedures.”

Top Gear, one of the BBC’s biggest shows and a popular export for commercial arm and producer BBC Studios, has been on air since 1977 and was relaunched in 2002 in a revamped format with presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in tow.

This version of the format was a huge success but its most high-profile incident came in 2006 when Hammond was seriously injured in a crash while driving a jet-powered car for the show. He spent two weeks in a coma but made a full recovery.

In 2015 Clarkson’s contract with the BBC was not renewed following an altercation with a producer on the show about the lack of hot meal provisions while filming on location. Clarkson, Hammond and fellow presenter James May subsequently left the show in 2015 to join Amazon, where they fronted The Grand Tour.

Since 2015 Top Gear has had a series of line-up changes, with the current presenting trio of Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris in place since 2019.

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