The BBC has announced that Top Gear will not be returning to TV “for the foreseeable future” after the 2022 crash involving the presenter Freddie Flintoff.
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 after the 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 the findings of an external BBC health and safety investigation were delivered. The findings will not be published. 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.
The BBC apologised to the presenter after the 2022 accident and reached a financial settlement with him reportedly in the region of £9m. Flintoff has been seen in public with facial injuries, while his legal team 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 severely injured 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” after the accident. He had been driving the jet-propelled vehicle in an 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 McGuinness and 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.”
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