For more than four decades — off and on — automotive enthusiasts around the world have relished following the adventures of the crew of Britain’s BBC series “Top Gear,” so this week’s announcement that the series is “resting for the foreseeable future” is surely a blow to millions of fans.
It is not, however, unexpected.
During filming an episode last December, host Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, the former England cricket captain turned broadcaster, was badly injured following a bad crash at a track near London.
The show has been off the air since the accident. The recent BBC statement said that it has “decided to rest the UK show for the foreseeable future,” citing “exceptional circumstances … we know resting the show will be disappointing news for fans, but it is the right thing to do.”
The BBC apologized to the presenter after the 2022 accident, according to The Guardian, and reached a financial settlement with him of reportedly £9 million (more than $11 million). Flintoff has been seen in public with facial injuries, while his legal team said that he was still recovering from “life-altering injuries.”
Flintoff’s is the not first severe accident to have affected the health of a “Top Gear” cast member. Richard Hammond, who presented the series alongside Jeremy Clarkson and James May in the 2000s and early 2010s, was severely injured in 2006 when a dragster he was driving spun while traveling at 288 miles per hour. He spent weeks in a coma.
May, meanwhile, has criticized the “car show-erati” who have called for him and his fellow former co-presenters to be reinstated on the hit motoring show since Flintoff’s crash.
Speaking to the BBC after the announcement, May took a shot at “partisan fans,” the ‘“car show-erati” who suggested that he return to the show.
“I was just thinking, ‘The bloke has hurt himself very badly in a life-changing way, and you could perhaps not use it as an opportunity to be partisan,’” said May. “You could perhaps say, ‘Rotten bit of luck, get well soon.’”