“Top Gear,” which has been a flagship BBC series for 46 years, will not be returning for the “foreseeable future,” the British broadcaster confirmed Tuesday. This indefinite hiatus follows a high-speed crash that involved host Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, according to Deadline.
The former cricket star joined the series in 2018 and, during filming in 2022, suffered “life-alteringly significant” injuries in a high-speed crash that necessitated being airlifted to a hospital, the BBC said Tuesday. Production was initially delayed but has now been put to “rest.”
BBC Studios reportedly settled with Flintoff in October for $11.3 million (9 million pounds).
The motoring show premiered in 1977 and, save for a one-year hiatus from 2001 to 2002, has been a mainstay for the BBC. Flintoff came aboard as host alongside actor Paddy McGuinness and journalist Chris Harris after former presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s exit.
In 2019, Flintoff fell off a motorized trike as he traveled at 124 mph while racing his co-hosts and that same year reportedly crashed into a market stall. These accidents reportedly left him uninjured. But in last year’s crash at the Dunsfold Park Aerodome in Surrey, England, he required emergency medical attention.
“Freddie was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track this morning ― with crew medics attending the scene immediately,” a BBC spokesperson told The Guardian at the time. “He has been taken to hospital for further treatment.”
Richard Hammond, who co-hosted the show from 2002 to 2015, nearly died in 2006 after his car spun out at 280 mph. The presenter reportedly fell into a coma and suffered brain damage but now hosts “The Grand Tour” with his former “Top Gear’ colleagues Clarkson and James May.
Though the show went on after previous accidents, the BCC cited “exceptional circumstances” Tuesday in deciding “to rest the UK show.” These presumably include the yet unknown gravity of Flintoff’s injuries — and the costly settlement.
“We know resting the show will be disappointing news for fans, but it is the right thing to do,” the BBC told Deadline in its statement. “All other Top Gear activity remains unaffected by this hiatus including international formats, digital, magazines and licensing.”
While the BBC claimed it was “excited about new projects being developed” with all three co-hosts, it noted the internal safety review of the crash will stay private. Despite adding they learned “important lessons” from the inquiry, several producers have quit.
Flintoff reportedly has been seen in public only recently and appears to have signs of injuries to his face.