Top Gear axed: has BBC series been cancelled after Freddie Flintoff accident, what’s status of show's future?

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Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff was reportedly left ‘seriously emotionally and physically affected’ by the crash

The future of popular BBC motoring show is in doubt after an announcement that filming on the latest season has been suspended amid news presenter Freddie Flintoff may be leaving the series after being involved in a shocking crash.

Top Gear has weathered many storms during the more than two decades that it has been on air - following Jeremy Clarkson’s departure in 2015 the future of the show was uncertain, but it maintained a loyal fanbase and is still one of the BBC’s flagship programmes.

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Now the BBC has cast further doubt on what will happen to the series as filming on the latest season, which was expected to premiere on BBC One later this year, has been indefinitely suspended.

Has Top Gear been cancelled?

Filming on season 34 of Top Gear has been halted by the BBC following an investigation into presenter Freddie Flintoff’s crash during production last December.

Freddie Flintoff is not expected to return to Top GearFreddie Flintoff is not expected to return to Top Gear
Freddie Flintoff is not expected to return to Top Gear | BBC/Lee Brimble

The BBC said in a statement: "We have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery. Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time.

“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."

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Top Gear, one of the BBC’s most successful shows, has aired every year since its relaunch in its current format in 2002, with new episodes being released even during the pandemic. With filming on the latest season now in limbo, 2023 could be the first year in the show’s history not to see new episodes released.

The BBC added that there will be a health and safety review of the show and that the channel will continue to support its cast and crew. The car show, which was originally presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, saw audiences of around 4 million per episode in the latest season.

After a fracas in which Clarkson punched a producer in 2015, he, Hammond and May left the show and viewing figures crumbled as Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc were brought on as hosts.

Under Freddie’s tenure, the show's audience ratings had recovered, though they still remain below the level of the series’ height under Clarkson and co. With production on season 34 paused indefinitely, there are currently no plans to resume production, and therefore a season 34 release date is unknown.

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Freddie Flintoff has presented Top Gear with Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris since 2019Freddie Flintoff has presented Top Gear with Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris since 2019
Freddie Flintoff has presented Top Gear with Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris since 2019 | BBC/Lee Brimble

What happened to Freddie Flintoff in Top Gear crash?

The former England cricket captain, who has presented the series since 2019, was involved in a serious accident at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey in December 2022.

He had been driving a handmade vehicle which was described as a motorised tricycle at the test track when the shocking crash occurred, with the vehicle flipping over.

Freddie was airlifted to hospital where he was treated for facial injuries and broken ribs. His son Corey told the Daily Mail: "He is lucky to be alive. It was a pretty nasty crash. It is shocking.”

Freddie had previously been involved in less serious accidents whilst filming the series - in February 2019 he crashed into a market stall in Mansfield and in September that year he crashed during a drag race at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire - in both cases he suffered no serious injuries.

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Freddie, who hosted the motoring show alongside Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris, has not been active on social media since before the crash. He is understood to have told friends that he ‘can’t continue’ on the series in the wake of his accident.

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