News

BBC cancels Top Gear production amid rumours of Freddie Flintoff quitting

by Nik Berg and James Mills
24 March 2023 2 min read
BBC cancels Top Gear production amid rumours of Freddie Flintoff quitting
Photo: BBC

The BBC has cancelled production on the latest season of the world’s most popular car show after host Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff was injured during filming for series 34 of the show.

The former England cricket star suffered broken ribs and facial injuries in a shunt at the show’s test track, near Dunsfold, Guilford, in December. During his recovery Flintoff is said to have stopped working entirely.

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Now The Times is reporting that Flintoff, 45, has quit and won’t be returning to Top Gear, quoting a source as saying, “Freddie has been seriously emotionally and physically affected by the crash. He is a daredevil, that’s what he does, and he doesn’t feel like he is able to continue to play that role on the show.”

Flintoff was driving a three-wheeled Morgan Super 3, at the Dunsfold test track, and is said to have had a crew member aboard the car at the time. A crew member who did not wish to be named has told Hagerty that it was a “low-speed, freak accident. We weren’t even filming at the time.”

The only detail that has been reported so far is that in cold weather conditions, the Morgan Super 3 flipped over, but the BBC has not shared further details, raising the question of whether it flipped on the track or left the road and rolled in the surrounding grassland, and why it rolled. A health and safety review is taking place, says the BBC.

Morgan Super 3 review Hagerty

Any accident should raise concerns about appropriate health and safety measures in place for the production of a show, but Top Gear has a record of flirting with danger and paying the price. Clarkson ‘burst’ his ankle, driving a lorry through a wall, Hammond came close to death, driving a 300mph jet car (then crashing a Rimac supercar down the side of a Swiss mountain, making The Grand Tour), while James May was knocked unconscious during filming in Syria.

An official statement from the BBC reads, “We have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery. We understand this [halting the show] 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.”

Freddie Flintoff quits Top Gear
Photo: Lee Brimble, BBC

The show makes a significant contribution to the BBC’s pockets. Made by BBC Studios, the broadcaster’s production arm, it has been sold around the world to more than 200 territories, and local versions are made in countries ranging from America to China. BBC Studios cited it as a key contributor toward driving £400 million worth of content sales last year.

Filming of Top Gear continued after previous host Richard Hammond crashed a dragster at nearly 300mph, putting him into a coma back in 2006, and Flintoff has also suffered several mishaps since taking the wheel, but this would be the first time one of its leading men has actually quit over safety concerns. Could this finally be the end for Top Gear?

Read more

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Comments

  • Gordon Pirie says:

    About time it was cancelled . One decent presenter who know what he’s talking about and 2 useless t***s who haven’t got a clue . How about a revamp with new presenters ie Mr Bean and Drew Pritchard

  • Bryan+Hull says:

    I would hope that Chris Harris could just continue producing the content he does on YouTube but the BBC could show it on TV to a bigger audience.
    Not a fan of Paddy as a presenter as too big a personality and over shadows anything he is presenting. Freddie much calmer.

  • Michael Eatough says:

    Agree 100% with Gordon Pirie.

  • Wilson Laidlaw says:

    As an owner of a Three Wheel Morgan, a 2012 one with a 2 litre S&S V twin since 2015, these vehicles have to be treated with respect. They are very sensitive to correct tyre pressures and can react very unpredictably if these are incorrect. They don’t particularly like being thrown about, with sudden control inputs and need to be handled sensitively. Mine has had better Spax adjustable shock absorbers almost since new and I am about to upgrade these again to ATR shocks all round. I have also installed the various upgraded suspension geometry modifications, as they become available. However one of the biggest single improvements on the original specification, was to replace the Avon motorcycle sidecar front tyres with Excelsior Competition H tyres, made originally for racing Bugatti Type 37 cars. These transformed the handling of the car and markedly reduced bump steer, since further reduced by completely changing the original very poor steering geometry, with the so called “Comfort Kit”.

  • James says:

    Top Gear reached the end of the road when May and co were sacked. Those three were an act that was impossible to follow. The new iterations of Top Gear became a parody. A parody is only funny once.

  • STEVE DEEKS says:

    That’s not a ‘shunt’ – hitting the old bridge at Snetterton is a ‘shunt’. There is always a risk in our business. I wish Flintoff a speedy recovery. Cancelling the series has to be an insurance issue – or, more likely – an underlying ratings issue? If a presenter is spooked by the incident, (I doubt it – he’s a professional sportsman, made of tougher stuff …), then quite understandable to step down. But as a reason to abandon filming? 🙄 Nope.

  • Chris C says:

    BBC needs to have a long hard look at the quality of presenters on Fifth Gear Recharged and work out where they went wrong. Fewer producers on the programme might be a good idea as well.

  • Neville Amos says:

    Heaven forbid Drew Pritchard has anything to do with it.

  • Mr B.B.Payne says:

    Unless you are going to race on a track what the hell is the point in driving like a maniac on a car show when we have a 70mph max limit on our roads why buy a car that will do 150 mph ?

  • Mr R J Owen says:

    Agree re creepy Drew Pritchard. A self know-all who really knows nothing worth listening to. Top Gear lost its way years ago before the current 3 clowns took over. The programme is bigger than it’s presenters, so Flintoff can go and bring in someone more stable, conservative and sensible than the current three. Paddy McGuinness is on tv far too much in other programmes. Stick to presenters are who vehicle orientated. And Top Gear needs to remove its’ speed’ image and racing. 99% of the viewers can’t do what the producers ask the current presenters to do. So this accident can now lead to some different thinking and a programme series re-vamp.

  • Jeremy Wentworth says:

    Top gear has gone from been the very best the pinnacle of comedy motoring journalism to been basically crap. I don’t mind Paddy & Chris but they will never have the chemistry of Clarkson Hammond and May,

    Don’t get me started on Flintoff , as he’s always constantly mentioning he’s a sportsman or I’m a cricketer , we know because your always bl—ng telling us , well please do us all a favour and go do 1 and go commentate on cricket or whatever as I don’t want to see you on what was the best and now worst car program.
    The only way it could be worse is if the most irritating man in the world came onto the show yes what other people have said Drew Pritchard.

  • Dave hollas says:

    I like Flintoff and Mcguiness but on top gear it should never have happened, chris Harris on the other hand is awesome and for him to be axed would be criminal he is the reason for watching top gear

  • Kirk Green says:

    For god sake just keep that objectionable Drew Pritchard away from it.

  • MR TREVOR WILLARD says:

    Freddie may be a ‘daredevil’ but he has no limits, so it was always been only a matter of time before he got hurt! As for quitting over safety concerns, I would suggest that’s down to him not ever knowing when to stop pushing and taking things too far. The BBC obviously has a duty of care for it’s presenters and staff, but it cannot account for every possible incident and the presenters should also not put themselves at unnecessary risk! But then taking risks is all part of the job, within reason of course.
    As for the BBC cancelling the season, that is beyond a joke seeing as the TV license payers will have obviously already funded all of the filming so far – so they should run the series with what they’ve got and simply replace Freddie. Let’s hope they come to their senses.
    I also agree with many that Flintoff and Mcguiness just shouldn’t be on top gear other than as perhaps guests.
    Chris Harris knows his stuff and he should be supported by qualified motoring journalists, ex racing drivers and/or people with experience from the automotive industry.
    I do also think that even in the last few series with Clarkson, Hammond and May, that the show had got out of hand i.e. focusing more on stupid entertainment than actually being informative.
    Then sadly, it’s just got even worse when Flintoff and Mcguiness joined the show.
    Of course, there needs to be some fun, proper challenges and maybe even a few crashes. And we all like to see the odd hypercar being put through it’s paces. But the show needs to be more informative and cover more cars that average people can actually aspire to own, not just the top of the range exclusive models.
    I’ll get of my box and put my violin down now!

  • Laz Grillo says:

    I am sorry that Freddy had his accident and I’m sorry that they’ve stopped filming under these circumstances. However, I shan’t miss it if it disappears from our screens. Since the arrival of Paddy and Freddy, it has become overly contrived and some of the trips and challenges tedious. If I was the producer, I would keep Chris Harris and get the Beeb to dig deep and poach the wonderful Jason Camissa from Hagerty Media. What a dream duo this would be. Proper automotive knowledge and some proper humour with less cackling.

  • Tim Dredge says:

    I hope Freddie a speedy recovery! As for the show it could be time for a new format. Harris and the rest of the collecting addicts crew should be invited.

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