Duo join Chris Harris to shoot new series next year

Paddy McGuinness and Andrew Flintoff will be the next hosts of Top Gear, fronting the format’s 27th series next year.

The Take Me Out presenter and Ashes-winning cricketer will join motoring journalist Chris Harris in a three-person presenting team, following the departure of Matt LeBlanc and journalist Rory Reid.

The show’s 26th series, which is LeBlanc’s last, will air in early 2019, before McGuinness and Flintoff begin filming for their inaugural series.

BBC2 channel controller Patrick Holland described the hires as a “thrilling manoeuvre”.

“I’m relishing what this trio will deliver,” he said. “Both Paddy and Freddie love their cars, but more than that they’ll bring a new energy and competitive spirit to Top Gear.”

McGuiness said he was gearing up to host “a show I’ve watched and loved since being a small boy” while Flintoff added he had now had the chance to do “both of my dream jobs” after his cricket career. 

The two presenters join BBC Studios’ 20-year-old format at a time of sliding ratings, although it still performs well on a Sunday night.

Earlier this year, its 25th season picked up a consolidated series average of 3.1m (11.4%), sliding by 200,000 from the previous series and 1m from the one prior to that. This is, however, still almost double the figure of the Sunday 8pm slot average.

Flintoff is currently co-hosting a BBC podcast – Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy – while he is also a team captain on Sky 1’s comedy panel show A League of Their Own.

McGuiness, who co-hostsTalkback’s ITV parody series The Keith and Paddy Picture Show, will also front a forthcoming BBC1 physcial gameshow, the Possessed/12 Yard format Catchpoint.