The BBC has signed up British entertainers Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff to replace Matt LeBlanc as the hosts of global motoring format Top Gear.
This comes after the former Friends star revealed that he would be leaving Top Gear after the next series of the BBC Studios-produced show. The 26th season of the show, which airs on BBC2 in the UK and BBC America in the U.S., is set to start filming later this year and will run in early 2019, while the 27th season of the show, which will feature the new pair will film in early 2019 for a debut later in the year.
McGuinness and Flintoff will join Chris Harris on the show, while Rory Reid is set to be transferred to spin-off Extra Gear with the BBC promising a bigger digital presence for the show.
McGuinness is the star of ITV dating format Take Me Out and has appeared in comedies including Phoenix Nights. Meanwhile, Flintoff is a former cricket legend who stars in Sky One series A League Of Their Own with James Corden.
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.”
McGuinness said, “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!”
Flintoff added, “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.”