BBC has announced Paddy McGuinness and Andrew Flintoff as new presenters of its popular motoring show Top Gear.
They will join forces with former racing driver Chris Harris, the only one of the last year’s cast who will remain in the next season. Matt LeBlanc announced his decision to leave the show earlier this year. LeBlanc was hosting the show since 2015 and the fracas involving Jeremy Clarkson, that led to his dismissal and eventual resignations of his co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond. The trio went on to have a new show, produced by Amazon. The Friends star has come to the show in a precarious time but has managed to keep it afloat.
LeBlanc stated extensive traveling keeping him away from his family as a reason for his resignation. In his statement to the media, he said: “It’s unfortunate, but for these reasons, I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive.”
Matt was credited with helping restore the show’s ratings after Chris Evans left. In total, he filmed four series and the fans have responded positively to his work.
BBC Two controller Patrick Holland also praised him: “I want to thank the fabulous Matt LeBlanc for being a brilliant co-host on Top Gear. Matt has thrown himself into the show with a real passion, revealing his extraordinary car knowledge and a willingness to get down and dirty. We were always going to be borrowing him from his day job as one of the top comic actors in Hollywood so I wish him all the very best.”
Rory Read, who was presenting the show with Harris and LeBlanc, will also step down and will be focusing on Extra Gear, a spin of Top Gear that started airing in 2016. He was brought to present Top Gear after the departure of Chris Evans. Together with Sabine Schmitz, he will be the face of Extra Gear and “will remain part of the Top Gear family”, per BBC statement.
The former England cricket captain and the comedian have both expressed their delight at the opportunity to work on the iconic BBC show. McGuinness commented: “Getting the Top Gear gig is a real honor and I’m thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity. To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting.”
Flintoff was also thrilled: “It’s not often you have the chance to do both of your dream jobs, but I’m now lucky enough to say I will have. I’ve always been passionate about cars and I’m so excited to be joining the Top Gear team.”
The next season, 26th for the show, will premiere on BBC Two in early 2019 and it will be the last one wit LeBlanc as the host. The next, 27th, will begin filming at the same time.
McGuinness’ career as a presenter has been on the rise, with the popular Take Me Out show. He has started together with comedian Peter Kay in shows like Phoenix Nights and Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere.
He also hosted Sports Relief with Claudia Winkleman on the BBC earlier this year.
Flintoff had an illustrious cricketing career. The former Lancashire player and Man of the Series in Ashes 2005 become England captain in 2006. He retired in 2009 after being plagued with injuries to his knees and ankles.
Flintoff isn’t new to presenting a show. He has been doing a podcast Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy for BBC Radio 5 Live. The show is co-hosted by Robbie Savage and Matthew Syed and has won several awards. Flintoff hasn’t announced whether he will continue to present it once he starts his new job at Top Gear.
Both of the Top Gear’s new presenters had their brush-offs with the law regarding their driving, which seems to be the requirement for the job. McGuinness was almost banned from driving last year, after being issued a speeding ticket. Only the help of lawyer Nick Freeman, AKA Mr. Loophole, let him keep his driving license after the case has been thrown out on a technicality, a Mr. Freemen’s specialty.
Flintoff managed to avoid ban after several tickets by claiming that it would impede his charity work. His drinking has landed him in trouble earlier when he was relieved as England’s vice-captain during the 2007 Cricket World Cup in St Lucia. Apparently, he stole a pedalo and had a little joy ride while intoxicated.