Filming on the latest season of Top Gear has been indefinitely postponed following a crash involving show presenter Freddie Flintoff. The accident has left the future of the hit BBC show in doubt, but it’s far from the first time that Top Gear hosts have been injured in the line of duty.
Original presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May all suffered war wounds during production of the motoring show which has aired on the BBC every since 2002. Often accidents in the show are self-inflicted - Clarkson and Hammond had a tendency to ram each others’ vehicles whenever the opportunity presented itself - and usually relatively harmless.
However, in some cases, presenters have left their vehicles with broken bones, and worse - and one accident was almost fatal. These are the biggest accidents in Top Gear history:
Way back in season four, Jeremy Clarkson claimed the first broken bone on Top Gear. During the first ever Cheap Car Challenge, in which Clarkson was tasked with buying a functioning car for £100, the presenter purposefully crashed his purchase, a Volvo 760 GLE, into a wall. Clarkson was able to walk away from the crash, but later realised that he had broken his thumb in the collision - an x-ray on the damage was shown during the episode broadcast.
Clarkson was involved in another accident when he fell from his Vespa during filming of the Vietnam special when he hit a pothole. Clarkson, a long-time enemy of all two-wheeled vehicles, was able to walk off the injury.
The Hamster set the bad for serious injuries on Top Gear in 2006 when he was involved in a dramatic near-fatal crash in a Vampire Dragster. Hammond was travelling at over 300mph in the jet-powered vehicle when it blew a tyre, shot off the road and rolled upside down.
Hammond’s helmet became embedded in the ground during the crash and he was knocked unconscious - he had to be cut free from the vehicle. He spent five weeks recovering in hospital, for two weeks of which he was in a medically induced coma.
Captain Slow didn’t manage to get up enough speed during his time on Top Gear to be involved in any major crashes - both of his biggest injuries on the series actually occurred outside cars.
In series 16, whilst filming a Christmas special in Syria, he was thrown to the ground when he held onto a recovery strap as Hammond attempted to pull Clarkson’s car up a slope. May hit his head on a rock, causing bleeding and concussion. Comparing his accident to his co-star’s, May said: "[Hammond] bashed his head on the whole of Yorkshire. I just hit mine on a stone."
May was also injured when he was thrown from a horse whilst filming the Patagonia Special in 2014. He suffered three cracked ribs in the fall but was able to continue filming.
Following Clarkson, Hammond and May’s departure from Top Gear, Chris Evans took over as the lead presenter, joined by Matt LeBlanc. The damage suffered to his reputation following his run on the show was severe - ratings crashed and he was replaced after just one season. Evans didn’t exactly instil confidence in his suitability for the show when he was snapped getting car sick after driving an Audi on the racetrack in January 2016.
Freddie Flintoff is the latest Top Gear star to be involved in a major accident whilst filming last December, and it was second only to Hammond’s in its seriousness. Flintoff had been driving a ‘motorised tricycle’ at the test track when he crashed at 124 mph, flipping the vehicle in the event.
He was airlifted to hospital where he was treated for facial injuries and broken ribs. The BBC has halted filming on the latest season of Top Gear following an investigation into the crash, and Flintoff has said that he won’t be back on the show.