A BBC executive has said returning to filming Top Gear would be “really inappropriate” as Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff continues to recover from his accident. The 45-year-old presenter was involved in incident at the Top Gear test track last year in December while filming the motoring TV programme at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
In March, the corporation announced that “under the circumstances” they feel “it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time” following an internal investigation into the accident.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) event on Thursday, chief content officer at the BBC, Charlotte Moore, was asked if the corporation is committed to Top Gear returning.
Moore said: “My priority at the moment is supporting Freddie through his recovery so I think it would be really inappropriate for us to resume filming now. I think when we get to the point where he feels ready … and we’ll get to thinking about getting him back.”
She added: “I think we’ve got to talk about what Freddie wants to do. When someone’s in recovery, I don’t think we would push that … I think that would be really inappropriate, I wouldn’t be happy.
“I think you’ve got to be really human about this and do the right thing.”
Flintoff was injured and taken to hospital to receive medical treatment after being involved in an accident while filming for the show on Tuesday 12 December morning, while the 45-year-old former professional cricketer was filming at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Freddie was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track this morning – with crew medics attending the scene immediately.
“He has been taken to hospital for further treatment and we will confirm more details in due course.”
The father of four, who has presented the BBC One show since 2019, was airlifted to hospital following the incident, but is not thought to have suffered any life-threatening injuries, The Sun reported.
The Sun also reported that Flintoff’s Top Gear co-hosts Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness were also at the test track at the time of the accident.
The news outlet quoted a source as saying: “[Flintoff] was driving on the track as normal. He wasn’t going at high speeds - it was just an accident that could happen to anyone. All the usual health and safety measures were in place for filming too.
“Freddie was taken to hospital by air ambulance shortly afterwards.”
Has he quit Top Gear?
BBC Studios declined to comment on Flintoff’s return to the show and directed enquiries to the presenter’s representatives, who have been contacted for comment by the PA News Agency. A statement from BBC Studios said it had “concluded its investigation into the accident at the Top Gear Test Track in Surrey last December, which regrettably injured presenter Freddie Flintoff.”
It continued: “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 will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgment about how best to continue later this year.
“This has also impacted the production team, who we continue to support.”
The statement added that there will be a health and safety review of the show, “in line with our procedures”.
It is understood that a decision about resuming filming will be made later in the year.
Is he taking a break from TV?
According to a source at the Sun, Flintoff has put his TV career on hold whilst he recoveres from facial injuries he sustained during the crash.
The source said that he “could have been killed” in the incident, and that the former cricketer has decided to take a break from TV at the encouragement of his family.
They said: “The full extent of his injuries will surprise many people, as the details of what happened have yet to fully emerge. He is putting his career on hold until he is in a better place mentally and physically, and can’t say when he will return to making TV shows.
“As a loving husband and dad he understands the fear his family feel about what’s happened, knowing that he could have been killed. He is determined to resume his TV work at some point though.
“That’s why this decision will be a painful one for Freddie, but he knows that, for now at least, there are more important things in life.”
Who is Freddie Flintoff?
Flintoff is an English TV and radio presenter, and a former professional cricket player. He was appointed as the England cricket captain twice, first in 2006 and 2007, and retired from the international stage in 2010, briefly returning to play for Lancashire four years later.
Following his successful sporting career he later became a familiar face on television, joining various reality and panel shows and appearing as the face of supermarket brand Morrisons.
In 2010 he became a team captain on Sky’s A League Of Their Own, hosted by James Corden before being crowned king of the jungle in the first series of the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! in 2015.
After appearing in the BBC drama Love, Lies and Records in 2017, he went on to make his musical theatre debut in Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical and hosted All Star Musicals for ITV in December the same year.
He was announced in October 2018, ahead of the show’s 27th series, as a new host of Top Gear alongside McGuinness and Harris.
Tuesday’s accident is not the first faced by Flintoff since he began working on the programme. In February 2019, the presenter was involved in a minor incident when he crashed into a market stall in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
In September of that same year he crashed again while driving a three-wheel vehicle at a reported speed of 124mph during filming for Top Gear at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire, but walked away from the incident unharmed.
Previous Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was also involved in a serious crash at the same airfield in 2006, leaving him in a coma.