Following Matt LeBlanc’s announcement that he will leave the show after the next series, Top Gear has announced a new look line-up of hosts who are destined to cause comedic car chaos and take the world’s biggest motoring entertainment show to another level.
Lancashire lads Paddy McGuinness, the primetime entertainment host and comedian, and former Ashes-winning England cricketer and TV presenter Freddie Flintoff, will join motoring journalist and racing-driver Chris Harris in what promises to be one of television’s most explosive combinations of entertainment firepower and petrolhead fumes. And the all-British team were officially unveiled at a photocall this morning on the banks of the River Thames in central London, flanked by a red Aston Martin DSB Superleggera and a blue Porsche 911 GT2RS.
In a move certain to unnerve health and safety chiefs, the trio will begin production on Series 27 of the BBC Two show in early 2019 – with their inaugural series premiering later in the year.
Top Gear bosses promise petrolheads and fans that the car will remain the real star of the show but hint at an even further escalation of humour, jeopardy and insurance bills as they embark on some of the show’s biggest adventures to date.
Rory Reid, who has co-presented Top Gear since Series 23, will step down from the main presenting lineup but will remain part of the Top Gear family, along with Sabine Schmitz. He will continue to be the face of Top Gear’s companion Extra Gear – and will be at the heart of what will become a bigger digital presence for the show.
Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, says: “This is a thrilling manoeuvre from the Top Gear team and I’m relishing what this trio will deliver. Both Paddy and Freddie love their cars but more than that, they’ll bring a new energy and competitive spirit to Top Gear. Chris Harris might have the greater car skills, but when it comes to the infamous Top Gear challenges, he’s going to have to bring his A-game to have the beating of these two.”
Paddy McGuinness says: “Getting the Top Gear gig is a real honour and I’m thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity. To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting. Top Gear fans worldwide are a passionate bunch and I consider myself one of them. Now let’s start up this Great British machine and see what it can do!”
Freddie Flintoff says: “It’s not often you have the chance to do both of your dream jobs, but I’m now lucky enough to say I will have. I’ve always been passionate about cars and I’m so excited to be joining the Top Gear team.”
Chris Harris says: “I think you can tell just how much fun we’re going to have making Top Gear with Paddy and Freddie. They’re both brilliant, natural entertainers – and their mischief mixed with the most exciting cars on the planet is sure to take the show to the next level. My dream job just got even better.”
The next series of Top Gear, LeBlanc’s last as lead host, will debut early in 2019 on BBC Two, before Paddy, Freddie and Chris premiere Series 27 later in the year.