I’m no cricket expert, but I imagine Freddie Flintoff has thrown a fair few curveballs in his career. The same can now be said for the BBC, which has announced ex-cricketer Flintoff will be replacing the departing Matt LeBlanc as the new host of Top Gear. He’s not coming alone though, he’s also bringing Take Me Out host and comedian Paddy McGuinness along with him. No, really. Bear with me as I check my calendar. Why? I’m just making sure it’s not April Fool’s Day. It turns out it isn’t.
There are many words I could use for this announcement, but I’d say perplexing best fits the bill. Here we have two celebrities that do not come from a strong motoring background being handed the reigns of one of the world’s largest and popular motoring shows. They will of course be supported by Chris Harris and Rory Reid, but I still find the whole thing baffling.
***Update*** BBC has confirmed that Rory Reid will NOT be a host on main Top, and will instead have to make do with Extra Gear. I personally feel this is a bigger step backwards than first anticipated, and I for one, am disappointed by this.
I want to make it clear, I like Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness. Flintoff is also good value on Sky 1’s A League of Their Own and Paddy McGuinness is also able to offer a good level of entertainment, even though I think Take Me Out is one of the most cringe-worthy TV programmes currently made. Before you ask, yes, I have watched it – my wife has subjected to it quite a few times…
That is a very good question, and it’s a question I’ve been asking myself all this morning. The Beeb has stated that it was impressed by the chemistry that the two shared on their audition, and the pair could be the answer to bringing back the “glory days” of Top Gear. I’m not so sure on that last point, but I really do hope I’m proven wrong.
Unless I’ve made a glaring omission, I cannot recall a time where either Flintoff or McGuinness having presented or been part of a show that has a strong motoring influence. Actually, I take that back, Flintoff recently did Carnage, but that’s a good chance some of you have never heard of that. Also, it’s more of an entertainment show where cars smash in to each other in a Mad Max sort of style as opposed to a show offering car reviews – albeit in an entertainment setting.
You could argue that Top Gear has been an entertainment show for years, so Carnage could serve as a good warm up. Yes, you’d have a point there, but Top Gear is still a programme for petrolheads that crave actual reviews, so I feel as if the BBC is going to p*** off quite a few die hard fans with this announcement.
You could also argue that Matt LeBlanc was a bit of an odd choice as he’s an actor, not a presenter. However, LeBlanc has been on the show twice a guest and he’s a bona fide petrolhead, whereas the the pair from Lancaster aren’t really known for having a passion for all things motoring.
Two year commitment
The BBC has confirmed that both stars have signed a two year contract, which is believed to be £500,000 each. Series 26 has already been filmed, therefore you can expect to see LeBlanc for one more series, despite announcing his departure a few months ago. This means the new line-up will come in to effect as of Series 27.
What do you think?
Do you think this is a bold, inspired choice, or do you think this is another mistake by the production team? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.