Top Gear halted for “foreseeable future,” says BBC

Top Gear Series 30 presenters
BBC Studios

The BBC’s often controversial car show, Top Gear, has skidded to a halt as the BBC said it has “decided to rest the U.K. show.”

Filming for the 34th season of Top Gear was stopped almost a year ago after host Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff was injured in an accident at the show’s test track in Surrey.

Flintoff was driving a Morgan Super 3 which he somehow turned over, suffering “life-altering significant” injuries in the process. The BBC is reported to have reached a settlement worth £9 million ($11. 3M) with the former England cricketer and daredevil.

After the accident, the BBC announced an independent health and safety review of the incident, although the results have not been made public. A second review into the show was also conducted, but now any chance of getting Top Gear back on track seems to have disappeared.

“The independent Health and Safety production review of Top Gear, which looked at previous seasons, found that while BBC Studios had complied with the required BBC policies and industry best practice in making the show, there were important learnings which would need to be rigorously applied to future Top Gear UK productions,” reads a statement from BBC Studios.

“The report includes a number of recommendations to improve approaches to safety as Top Gear is a complex programme-making environment routinely navigating tight filming schedules and ambitious editorial expectations—challenges often experienced by long-running shows with an established on and off screen team. Learnings included a detailed action plan involving changes in the ways of working, such as increased clarity on roles and responsibilities and better communication between teams for any future Top Gear production.”

Top Gear made its debut 46 years ago and had an uninterrupted run until 2001, before being rebooted in 2002 with the trio of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond, and tame racing driver The Stig to become the most popular car show… in the world. Packed with stunts and silliness, Top Gear seemed to be rarely out of the news, whether that was for Hammond’s horrific dragster crash or for upsetting the entire country of Argentina. The Clarkson years would also end in a blaze of headlines when he lost his temper, punched a producer, and was sacked in 2015.

A new crew including Friends‘ Matt Le Blanc and Chris Evans was brought in for an interim period before the show settled down with Flintoff, comedian Paddy McGuinness, and Chris Harris in 2019.

The BBC says 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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    I also stopped watching once Clarkson, May, and Hammond left. I gave the next crew a chance but just didn’t enjoy it.

    Yeah, Hammond, May and Clarkson (plus The Stig) set a bar too high, IMO. Even with reduced expectations, I couldn’t find any reasons to love the show. Lost interest and moved on, as did, apparently, many others.

    At the risk of sounding contrarian, I sincerely enjoyed a lot of the later TG:BBC segments and chemistry. Evans arguably seemed out-of-place, but LeBlanc was a genuine treat. And making Sabine a semi-regular was glorious. This last BBC crew had found their groove too, and it’s a shame it had to end this way.

    None of them could start out with the years-established chemistry of Jezza/Slow/Hamster, nor were they drop-in substitutes. All are different people with different dynamics.

    While I’m being difficult, I’d argue that that most-heralded trio frequently became tiresome towards the end, well before Clarkson ruined things for good. A lot of repeated jokes and themes, felt like a one-hit-wonder band lazily clinging to their bygone era. The Grand Tour was actually a good effort at a clean start.

    Meanwhile, across the pond… TG:USA finally nailed down its own formula (longer competition challenges and tours, less replication of their BBC counterpart) and became better than its progenitor.

    Fight me.

    I did enjoy some of Top Gear USA. And I should clarify, the episodes of both the BBC and USA that I enjoyed most were the specials and the episodes that involved used/old vehicles. I always fast forwarded through the new car segments, and often the guest driver segments too. All the episodes of The Grand Tour have been enjoyable.

    That show, like Mythbusters, was entertaining because they pushed the envelope a bit. I guess this sort of thing was bound to happen

    The next series of the Australian version might be good: they snagged Moog from Mighty Car Mods as one of the presenters.

    I much prefer Clarkson on his farm. My wife likes Grand Tour, the specials are far better than the initial run of episodes. I can’t get into old BBC Top Gear, but then I find most automotive shows too full of fluff and fake drama.

    This series has struggled since Clarkson, Hammond & May were gone. Chris Harris is very interesting but they have struggled to have a good supporting cast. I think they actually found a decent group of people but the shows ideas were getting stale. RIP Top Gear.

    The show became quite stale with the replacement trio. If Clarkson, May, and Hammond had been able to remain on the show, they wouldn’t even think of pulling the plug.

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