BBC 'axes Top Gear after 46 years following Flintoff's horror crash'

BBC ‘axes Top Gear after 46 years as bosses concede there is “no way it can continue” after Freddie Flintoff’s horror crash’

  • Flintoff was ‘lucky to be alive’ after his horror crash on December 13 last year 

The BBC has reportedly axed Top Gear after 46 years as TV bosses conceded there was no way back for the show following Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s horror crash.

The former England cricket captain was ‘lucky to be alive’ after his open-topped three-wheel 130mph Morgan Super 3 car, which had no air bags, flipped over on December 13 last year, leaving him with severe facial injuries and several broken ribs. 

The Ashes hero had to wait an ‘agonising’ 45 minutes for an air ambulance – with the BBC later giving him an apology. 

The Corporation has faced huge questions since Flintoff’s crash, especially when it emerged the father-of-four had raised safety concerns with the Top Gear crew on the day of the stunt.

But insiders have told The Sun that nearly ten months on, production staff have now been told to look for other work, signalling an end to the much-loved car show which first launched in 1977 with Angela Rippon as host.

After Top Gear was initially cancelled in 2001, it was revived a year later under Jeremy Clarkson who presented the show alongside James May and Richard Hammond. But the popular three-man team left the series in 2015 when Clarkson assaulted a BBC producer, plunging the show into huge controversy.

Freddie Flintoff was pictured returning to cricket last month. His facial scars were visible but have showed signs of healing since

Top Gear was a global fan-favourite show. For 13 years it was hosted by Jeremy Clarkson (C) who presented the show alongside Richard Hammond (L) and James May (R)

The BBC was facing huge questions after Flintoff’s crash, especially when it emerged the father-of-four had raised safety concerns with the Top Gear crew on the day of the stunt

The former England cricket captain, 45, was ‘lucky to be alive’ after his three-wheeled Morgan Super 3 car, which did not have air bags, flipped over on December 13

After presenters including Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, Sabine Schmitz, Eddie Jordan and Rory Reid came and went, the show was being presented by Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuiness until the crash.

Top Gear had been on hiatus since filming for the 34th series was axed following the near-fatal crash at the show’s test-track at Dunsfold Aerodrome, in Surrey. Flintoff’s co-hosts have not yet spoken about the crash.

A show source told The Sun: ‘Top Gear has been an institution on British telly but the feeling is there is no way it can continue after Freddie’s crash.

‘The BBC are aware they very nearly lost a presenter’s life while filming a segment, and there’s a feeling it would be in bad taste to continue making such dangerous material.

‘It’s a tough decision but they know deep down it’s the right one as hardcore fans of the show won’t want to see a lightweight version.’

A spokesman for the BBC said: ‘A decision on the timing of future Top Gear shows will be made in due course with BBC Content.’ 

It’s understood production staff have been left frustrated by the fact a decision has taken 10 months to be made. At least one worker is said to be planning to launch legal action against the Corporation for a loss of earnings, it is claimed.

Flintoff was the latest host injured in horrific accidents while filming Top Gear, following on from former host Richard Hammond, who was left in a coma after losing control of a jet-powered racer in 2006, and Paddy McGuiness, who cheated death after crash a Lamborghini in the Yorkshire Dales in 2020. 

In 2008, Clarkson also injured his ankle and claimed to have ‘dislocated his head from his spine’.

Flintoff was also involved in a minor 2019 incident during production but escaped injury after coming off a three-wheeled motorcycle.

The BBC also faced allegations of racism, homophobia and xenophobia during Clarkson’s era. Ofcom intervened after a derogatory term was used during an episode set in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

There was also an apparent remark about the Falklands War during filming in Argentina – which the BBC refused to apologise for. It triggered somewhat of a minor diplomatic indecent. 

Jeremy Clarkson in an early appearance on the BBC’s Top Gear programme

Ex-Top Gear presenters James May (L), Jeremy Clarkson (C) and Richard Hammond pose outside 10 Downing Street in London November 29, 2011.

Matt LeBlanc, Chris Evans and The Stig.  LeBlanc and Evans presented the show for a short period after Clarkson’s departure

Flintoff is pictured with co-hosts Chris Harris and Paddy McGuiness ahead of the start of series 31

The Stig (pictured) played a key role in Top Gear

With the future of the show still hanging in the balance until today, Flintoff had made a return to the public eye as he joined up with the England side as a coach over the summer. The facial injuries he suffered were still visible on his face but have since showed signs of healing.

After remaining silent on the crash for several months, Flintoff described the last few months as the ‘hardest of his life’ while recently speaking publicly for the first time.

Earlier this week, footage was released by the ECB of the ex-England captain giving an emotional speech to debutant Tom Hartley ahead of England’s ODI clash with Ireland. 

Flintoff has been recovering from the high-speed crash and has been spending time with the England white-ball side this summer.

Handing Hartley his first England cap, Flintoff said: ‘It gives me so much pleasure to share what’s going to be a day, Tom, that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. Your journey hasn’t been like a lot of people’s. There was no academies, no systems but to me (that) suggests a steeliness, a determination, a passion which might not be evident on the outside but it’s definitely burning inside.

‘When you get this cap it changes your life. It’s one of those things, it’s before and after it. This enables you to walk tall and move faster. Play with passion, play with pride, play with belief. And also a part of a family of people.

‘They’ll share the good times with you, the successes. But as I found over the past few months, they’ll be there in the hardest times of your life, they will stand next to you.

‘So like the lion on the cap Tom, be brave, be fearless, be proud and enjoy every minute. It gives me great pleasure to present cap number 272 to Tom Hartley.’ 

Freddie Flintoff (right) handed Tom Hartley his ODI cap against Ireland in September

Flintoff has been spending time around the England set up as he continues to recover from his shock crash last year  

One of the great all-rounders, Flintoff was an iconic symbol of the 2005 Ashes-winning side

One of the great all-rounders of the English game and the hero of the 2005 Ashes triumph, Flintoff played 141 ODIs before retiring after England won the urn in 2009.

‘It’s important for him, and it’s great for the lads to have him around,’ Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant Test coach, said about his ex-team-mate’s return.

Flintoff quit Top Gear following the crash, while several members of staff who witnessed the accident signed off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

In the aftermath of Flintoff’s crash, his wife Rachael reportedly begged him to stay off work.

The father-of-four was ‘lucky to be alive’ when his open-topped three-wheel Morgan Super 3 flipped over in freezing conditions, according to his son.

In 2006, Richard Hammond was on life support and in a coma after he was involved in a 320mph crash while filming a Top Gear stunt at York’s Elvington airfield

The cricketer turned TV star furthered his self-appointed ‘daredevil’ role while on Top Gear

Filming on the series was suspended while Flintoff recovered from his injuries and investigations took place, with reports the former professional cricketer was putting his TV career on hold.

An insider told The Times in March: ‘Freddie has been seriously emotionally and physically affected by the crash. He is a daredevil, that’s what he does, and he doesn’t feel like he is able to continue to play that role on the show.’

Reports said Flintoff had decided to leave the programme before the BBC confirmed in March it was halting filming of the following series, which had been set for release in the autumn.

The Mail on Sunday reported the high-speed accident and horrific injuries of the former England cricket star had a ‘significant effect’ on witnesses, preventing them from returning to work.

Sources say that there were many staff present at last December’s smash at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Park aerodrome.

One said: ‘The scenes were awful, something you would truly want to unsee. The idea of returning to do that kind of work again for some people is just too much.

‘It has been a terribly hard time for everyone involved in the crash. Some are still struggling with it so have been signed off work.’

Flintoff has yet to take any legal action, but it isn’t known if any of the production team have.

After the incident his 16-year-old son Corey told MailOnline: ‘He’s OK. I’m not too sure what happened but he is lucky to be alive.

‘It was a pretty nasty crash. It is shocking. We are all shocked but just hope he’s going to be OK.’

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