EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from breathing new life into the BBC’s Top Gear franchise, host Andrew Flintoff is changing gears with a highly personal BBC One documentary on his battle with bulimia.
After a distinguished career as an England cricket player, Flintoff has carved out a new profession as a TV star, where he has become known for clowning around with James Corden on Sky’s A League of Their Own, and bringing his ultra-competitive spirit to the rebooted Top Gear.
But now Flintoff will open up about his experience with bulimia and meet other men with the condition in a 60-minute film, which will broaden out to look more generally at male eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Flintoff has spoken about his eating disorder a number times since retiring from cricket in 2009, revealing how it helped him lose weight while playing. “I’ve thrown up in cricket grounds around the world,” he said in 2012 on his struggle with the condition, which he is still battling with today.
Freddie Flintoff on Bulimia (working title) is one of the first commissions for South Shore, the new British production company set up by former Twofour executives Melanie Leach and Andrew MacKenzie. Leach and MacKenzie are the executive producers, while Leo Burley is the producer-director. The documentary was commissioned by BBC director of content Charlotte Moore and Catherine Catton.
“I hope this film will raise awareness about a subject that is all too often a taboo and make a difference to the way men talk about mental health,” Moore said. Flintoff added: “If this resonates with one person watching, or through this we can show someone that there is help out there, then this is worth doing.”
The BBC has had success in using high-profile stars to delve into sensitive subjects they wouldn’t normally be associated with. In 2015, former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand opened up about grief after his wife died of cancer, while Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson tackled social media’s impact on mental health in a documentary last year.
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