Freddie and Paddy take hot seat as Top Gear ramped up

Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris
Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris
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The BBC has hired the former cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff and comedian Paddy McGuinness for the third relaunch in as many years of its motoring show, Top Gear.

The move follows the decision of the American actor Matt LeBlanc not to return after the next series. The new hosts will join another existing presenter, the racing driver Chris Harris.

McGuinness, whose broad Lancashire acceent is also to be heard on ITV’s dating game, Take Me Out, and who formerly partnered the comic Peter Kay, said the new job was a “real honour and I’m thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity”.

Flintoff added: “I’ve always been passionate about cars.”

The programme was relaunched first with disc jockey Chris Evans alongside LeBlanc, and then retooled with Harris and co-presenter Rory Reid. But it has struggled to find the right tone since the departure in 2015 of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, who left when Clarkson was suspended for allegedly punching an assistant producer in a row over a steak at the Simonstone Hall Hotel in the Yorkshire Dales.

The third series of their rival show, The Grand Tour, is expected on Amazon Video before the end of the year.