The BBC has announced who will replace Matt Le Blanc on motoring show Top Gear, bringing in not one, but two new presenters.
Joining Chris Harris for Series 27, expected to be broadcast in late 2019, is comedian Paddy McGuinness and former cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. They will take over hosting duties from Le Blanc, who announced his departure earlier in the year due to time commitments, and Rory Reid, who will be stepping back to host the show’s digital spin-off Extra Gear.
In its announcement, the BBC says “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.”
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.”
Reid, who won his place on the show alongside Harris, Le Blanc and Chris Evans following the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson, and departure of Richard Hammond and James May, will head up the Top Gear brand’s digital efforts. It is unknown if he will appear on the main show.
The BBC have also said that German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, the ‘Queen of the Nürburgring’ will remain with the show, appearing sporadically throughout the new series.
Le Blanc’s last episodes as part of series 26 will air on BBC 2 in the new year.