Top Gear, the Sugababes of motoring shows, has unveiled its new presenters: Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness. Yeah, Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness. We’ve checked and double-checked, and it’s not a prank or anything.
They will be replacing Matt LeBlanc, who is stepping down after the next series.
McGuinness is best known for presenting Take Me Out, the best show on television, as well as starring in Phoenix Nights and showing up in most of Keith Lemon’s output. His qualifications for theTop Gear job thankfully go slightly further than driving a van in Max & Paddy’s Road To Nowhere: he fronted the Travel Channel’s Stars In Their Cars in 2016, a show that looks an awful lot like a sort of crap Top Gear knockoff, and drove around the country with Rory McGrath in 2008 for a Channel 5 show.
Flintoff is best known for his enormously successful cricket career, and since retiring he’s been a team captain on Sky’s A League Of Their Own, an occasional darts commentator and the winner of the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity. He also made a show for Australian TV in 2016 where he drove around in a van eating things, which is a bit like Top Gear except in a van and involving more eating things.
McGuinness commented: “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.”
Flintoff said: “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.”
Both McGuinness and Flintoff have been in driving-related trouble in the past. McGuinness got off a driving ban in 2017 after hiring celebrity lawyer Mr Loophole, getting the case thrown out on a technicality, while Flintoff has claimed in the past that being banned after repeatedly speeding would have a negative effect on his charity work.
LeBlanc announced in May that he had had enough of the show, saying that the “time commitment and extensive travel… takes me away from my family and friends more than I’m comfortable with. It’s unfortunate, but for these reasons I will not be continuing my involvement with the show. I will forever be a Top Gear fan and I wish the team continued success. Thanks for a great drive.”
His final series will be broadcast early next year, with McGuinness and Flintoff’s first one debuting in the latter half of 2019. They will be hosting along with existing presenter and former racing driver Chris Harris, with current co-host Rory Reid moving to the BBC Three companion show Extra Gear.
Will this be any good, though? Hard to say. It’s quite telling that this Daily Mash article is basically indistinguishable from this one.
They’re both really likeable men, but they’re just, kind of, some dudes? Will they have the authority and credibility that the role sort of demands? Will anyone ever buy a car because Freddie Flintoff from the Jacamo adverts says it’s good? Only time will tell, but in an ideal world McGuinness would turn it into an end-of-the-pier-style catchphrase-fest. Let the pedal see the metal, no likey no headlighty, etc. TELEVISION GOLD.