Following a traumatic crash in December, Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff may not be making a return to the show.
The future of Top Gear, the world's most-watched motoring TV show, is up in the air following the alleged departure of Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff, a presenter who has reportedly called it quits after an accident in December, reports The Sunday Times.
Insiders told the UK publication that Flintoff, 45, was traumatized by the incident and doesn't feel he can reprise his role as a dynamic daredevil. "Freddie has been seriously emotionally and physically affected by the crash. He is a daredevil, that's what he does, and he doesn't feel like he is able to continue to play that role on the show," said an unnamed source.
The former cricketer was involved in a serious crash while filming last year. He and a crew member were reportedly traveling in a Morgan Super 3 when it flipped over. Flintoff sustained broken ribs and facial injuries in the dramatic incident.
The BBC has confirmed that filming of the latest series has been suspended. At the time of the incident, the British broadcaster issued an apology statement to Flintoff, with a spokesperson adding that "We will continue to support Freddie with his recovery. Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time."
Fans of the show have reason to be concerned, as the BBC also has plans to launch a health and safety review into the incident. Only then will a decision be made about whether the show will make a return.
Top Gear has garnered acclaim from all corners of the globe and, in its current guise, has been a regular fixture on TV screens from Los Angeles to Lagos. Rebooted by Jeremy Clarkson in 2002, the show's memorable antics, stunts, and controversial humor has seen it grow into one of the BBC's greatest successes.
This isn't the first time the motoring show's future has been at risk. In 2015, Clarkson was famously suspended from the BBC after reports emerged that he physically assaulted a producer. The show was quickly put on hold, with the final three episodes of series 22 never gracing our screens.
Together with his fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May, the outspoken motoring scribe moved over to Amazon and launched The Grand Tour, an even more elaborate take on the car-themed entertainment show.
Top Gear adapted with new hosts Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc - both of whom have since departed - and finally struck gold with its latest ensemble, including Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness, and the immensely talented Chris Harris, who can powerslide anything from a jalopy to a Ferrari Roma.
The latest crash is not Flintoff's first brush with danger, either. In 2019, the co-presenter was lucky to escape with his life after a drag racing accident.
Since the incident, Flintoff - who has a strong social media presence - has refrained from posting on his Instagram or Twitter accounts. While he reportedly has no plans to return to his role on Top Gear, the BBC is hopeful that he will continue working with the broadcaster on other projects.
As per the report, he described himself as a daredevil last year. "That's just the nature of the stuff I do on the show now, and I've [learned] to just get on with it and get stuck in, there's no time for anything else."
It will be sad to see the iconic show come to an end, but there's an opportunity here for yet another reboot; a fresh take on a favorite. After all, that's what Jeremy Clarkson did more than 20 years ago, taking a stuffy and generic car show and transforming it into an incredible success.
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