Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff join Chris Harris as Top Gear unveils new presenting lineup
Following Matt LeBlanc's announcement that he will leave the show after the next series, Top Gear has announced a new look line-up of hosts who are destined to cause comedic car chaos and take the world's biggest motoring entertainment show to another level.
Lancashire lads Paddy McGuinness, the primetime entertainment host and comedian, and former Ashes-winning England cricketer and TV presenter Freddie Flintoff, will join motoring journalist and racing-driver Chris Harris in what promises to be one of television's most explosive combinations of entertainment firepower and petrolhead fumes. And the all-British team were officially unveiled at a photocall this morning on the banks of the River Thames in central London, flanked by a red Aston Martin DSB Superleggera and a blue Porsche 911 GT2RS.
In a move certain to unnerve health and safety chiefs, the trio will begin production on Series 27 of the BBC Two show in early 2019 - with their inaugural series premiering later in the year.
Top Gear bosses promise petrolheads and fans that the car will remain the real star of the show but hint at an even further escalation of humour, jeopardy and insurance bills as they embark on some of the show's biggest adventures to date.
Rory Reid, who has co-presented Top Gear since Series 23, will step down from the main presenting lineup but will remain part of the Top Gear family, along with Sabine Schmitz. He will continue to be the face of Top Gear's companion Extra Gear - and will be at the heart of what will become a bigger digital presence for the show.
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."
Paddy McGuinness says: "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!"
Freddie Flintoff says: "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."
Chris Harris says: "I think you can tell just how much fun we're going to have making Top Gear with Paddy and Freddie. They're both brilliant, natural entertainers - and their mischief mixed with the most exciting cars on the planet is sure to take the show to the next level. My dream job just got even better."
The next series of Top Gear, LeBlanc's last as lead host, will debut early in 2019 on BBC Two, before Paddy, Freddie and Chris premiere Series 27 later in the year.
Phil Fleming / Carrie Jones
Paddy has become a well-loved and established feature of the annual TV calendar. Today he is perhaps best known for his massively popular ITV dating show Take Me Out, which goes in to production for its eleventh series this autumn and will TX early 2019.
Paddy's first outing was in a series of six one off episodes in Channel 4's The Comedy Lab which aired in 1998. He appeared alongside Peter Kay. In 2000 he got the part as Paddy the doorman in That Peter Kay Thing. This led to the massive spin off series Phoenix Nights. Paddy then went on to co-write (with Peter Kay) the eagerly anticipated spin off to Phoenix Nights: Max and Paddy - The Road To Nowhere.
This led Paddy to embark on his first ever solo stand-up tour, The Dark Side. Paddy performed 108 dates, entertaining audiences across the UK with his sell out shows in 2005/6. The DVD Paddy McGuinness: Live was the bestselling comedy stand-up DVD at the time. A number of tours followed this in 2008, an arena tour in 2011 and most recently his 50 date UK tour 2015/16 Daddy McGuinness, which saw him receive a host of rave reviews.
Paddy is well known for his contributions to popular TV shows including This Morning, 71 Degrees North, Mad Mad World, Your Face Sounds Familiar, Stars In Their Cars and Coronation Street.
Most recently Paddy teamed up with Leigh Francis, producing two series of the much loved movie parody series The Keith and Paddy Picture Show.
Venturing over to the BBC, last year, Paddy hosted Even Better Than the Real Thing a head to head format featuring some of the world's best tribute acts to see who would be crowned Even Better Than the Real Thing.
Earlier this year Paddy hosted Sport Relief alongside Claudia Winkleman and has recently completed production on a new gameshow (Catchpoint) set to launch in early 2019.
Paddy has regularly taken part in Soccer Aid for UNICEF and, alongside his wife, Christine, has been working closely with the National Autistic Society, most recently raising �200,000 from their annual Twinkle Ball which is organised and curated by the couple.
Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff is a presenter, broadcaster and cricketing legend.
Andrew made his first class debut for Lancashire in 1995, and international honours came when he made his Test Match debut in 1998 vs South Africa. His One Day International debut followed in 1999 vs Pakistan. Andrew made his biggest impact for England in the summer of 2005, when he played a major role in regaining the Ashes from Australia. His contributions won him the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in the same year. In 2006 Andrew was awarded an MBE, yet in September 2010, as one of the biggest players in the game, Flintoff retired from professional cricket due to a recurring knee injury.
Since his retirement Andrew has developed a strong broadcast career. In March 2010, Flintoff became a Team Captain, along with Jamie Redknapp, on the Sky One sports panel show A League of Their Own. The Bafta-winning show has been a huge success and is now about to film it's thirteenth series. Andrew also worked with ITV2 in 2011 to produce the Freddie Flintoff versus The World in which he went head to head with some of the world's sporting greats in a variety of daring challenges across the globe. Andrew also presented his own radio show in the summer of 2011 for BBC Radio 5 live entitled Freddie's World of Sport.
Later that year, Andrew joined the team at Discovery to make the documentary Alone In The Wild. He was completely isolated without any aid or production team, making his way through the wilderness with a handheld camera to record footage. This spurned more adventures in 2012 with the channel in a spin off series Freddie Flintoff Goes Wild.
2012 also saw the BBC One documentary The Hidden Side of Sport, which took an insightful look at depression in the world of sport. Andrew met with some prolific figures for the documentary including Piers Morgan, Vinnie Jones and Ricky Hatton. In the same year, Andrew embarked on one of his greatest challenges to date; training to become a professional heavyweight boxer. This was broadcast in a documentary for Sky One; Flintoff: From Lord's To The Ring. The culmination of this was a victory on his debut fight at The MEN Arena, Manchester, where he defeated his American opponent.
In 2013, he fronted his own show for BBC Radio 5 live; Flintoff's Ashes Roadshow. He also expressed his expert opinion on each Test in a column for The Sun newspaper and worked with William Hill on cricket predictions. Later that year, Andrew embarked on a rainforest adventure for Sky One, accompanied by journalist Rob Penn. Flintoff's Road Through The Rainforest, which aired in April 2014 and formed a part of Sky's Rainforest Rescue initiative. 2017 saw Flintoff working with BBC Radio 5 live again, but this time a podcast alongside pals Robbie Savage and Matthew Syed named Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy, where the three discuss topical sports talking points. The podcast went on to win three times at the Radio Academy Awards for Best Podcast, Best New Show and Best Presenter for Freddie and is continuing into 2018.
After a chronic knee injury seemingly ended his cricket career in 2010, it was announced that Andrew would play for Lancashire again in the NatWest T20 blast squad in May 2014. Following on from his stint with Lancashire in 2014 Andrew continued his professional cricket comeback in the Australian T20 Big Bash league in December 2014 & January 2015. As well as playing in the tournament Andrew joined Channel TEN's prestigious commentary team and made quite an impression with his on field commentary.
Following on from their adventure in the Amazon, Andrew and Rob were reunited in 2014, taking to the highways of Great Britain for a new series, Flintoff: Lord of the Fries airing on Sky One in February 2015. The show followed the boys serving up fish and chips to the general public in their eco-friendly chip van.
In March 2015 Freddie was crowned the King of the Jungle in the first series of the Australian version of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, and later that year fronted a new six part series for BBC Two, Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week, in which contestants were put through SAS tasks to find Britain's toughest recruit. Due to popular demand and the success of their podcast, Andrew and TV producer friend Clyde Holcroft embarked on a live tour, 2nd Innings, to celebrate the ten year anniversary of England's Ashes win. They travelled to theatres across the country in 2015, including performing at Edinburgh Comedy Festival.
Bowled over by the support of the Australian public, Freddie returned to Australia in November 2015 until early 2016 to reprise his role with Channel Ten on The Project twice weekly and to also join the commentary team on the Big Bash League.
In early 2016, Flintoff was elected the new PCA President of the Professional Cricketers' Association at the PCA's annual general meeting held in Birmingham. Andrew joined a very exclusive club as he succeeded his fellow Lancastrian David Lloyd in becoming the seventh President in the association's history.
Freddie released his tell all autobiography Second Innings: My Sporting Life, a celebration of Flintoff's 20 years in cricket. The much anticipated book reveals the unseen sides of his career and personality.
At the end of 2016, Nine Network announced that Flintoff was joining the adrenaline-charged competition series Australian Ninja Warrior, ahead of its debut season in 2017. In a coup for the internationally acclaimed Ninja Warrior format, Freddie joined the sport and entertainment series as a side line reporter, commentator and co-host alongside Rebecca Maddern and Ben Fordham. A second series was filmed in Sydney at the end of 2017 which will air in 2018.
In September 2017, Flintoff was the main presenter for Cannonball on ITV with Frankie Bridge, Radzi Chinyanganya, Ryan Hand and Maya Jama as poolside reporters. In December of that year, Flintoff hosted a new ITV primetime show which aired on Christmas Eve All Star Musicals.
2017 also saw Freddie take his hand in the acting and musical worlds. Flintoff made his acting debut in one episode of the BBC drama Kay Mellor's Love, Lies & Records. He also made his stage debut in Kay Mellor's musical Fat Friends, touring around the UK in 2018 playing the character Kevin alongside Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey.
Since then, Fred took up the role of host for Sky One's Carnage. The high-octane show saw teams of creative engineers, mechanics and drivers from throughout the UK and Ireland transform regular cars into weaponised battle-ready vehicles. Moving back to the world of cricket, Fred sung 'on top of the world' in this new video for the International Cricket Council (ICC) ahead of the cricket World Cup in 2019.
His new book, Do You Know What?: Life According to Freddie Flintoff is out November 2018. Here, Fred expels an eclectic and entertaining smorgasbord of anecdotes, impressions, reflections, ruminations, musings, cogitations, observations, rants, confessions and pearls of wisdom on all aspects of life's rich tapestry.
Chris Harris joined the Top Gear presenting line-up in 2016 for Series 23. He is probably best known for his popular YouTube channel, Chris Harris on Cars which he launched in 2014, and established with the help of long-time friend Neil Carey. Chris currently presents the online car review series Chris Harris Drives for topgear.com. Chris began his career in motoring journalism at UK-based Autocar magazine, becoming their official road-test editor. He started a website for fast cars the week Lehman Brothers went under in 2008, which obviously ended badly. He then looked to solve his new-found indebtedness at Evo magazine and then became a member of the Pistonheads.com crew, as well as a regular feature on YouTube's DRIVE channel.