BBC has hit the brakes on its long-running auto show “Top Gear” for an indefinite amount of time. The decision may come to car enthusiasts’ dismay, but, the British broadcaster said, “it is the right thing to do.”
In a statement shared during a Tuesday morning broadcast, the British Broadcasting Corp. said it will “rest” the show “for the foreseeable future” due to “exceptional circumstances.” The U.K. broadcaster has been home to the “Top Gear” revival since October 2002, and the hiatus news comes a month after it reached an “agreement” with host Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff regarding a crash at the program’s test track in December 2022.
Flintoff’s settlement with BBC in October was reportedly worth $11.3 million.
The cricket star, one in the trio of newest “Top Gear” hosts, was hospitalized on Dec. 13, 2022 with non-life-threatening injuries after a “high-speed” car crash while filming at the Dunsfold Aerodrome test track, the Guardian reported. After the crash, which happened in Surrey, England, BBC Studios conducted an investigation into the accident and decided to halt filming on Season 34 in March. In a statement shared with Variety that month, BBC said it will conduct a “health and safety review of the show, in line with our procedures.”
The Times of London also reported in March that Flintoff, 45, had quit “Top Gear” after the crash.
The BBC said Tuesday that it “remains committed” to Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris, who have co-presented “Top Gear” since 2019. “Top Gear” premiered in 2002 as a revival of the original “Top Gear” series from the 1970s and has been adapted in the U.S. with a different slate of hosts.
Stars who have hosted “Top Gear” include longtime trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Clarkson and “Top Gear” parted ways in 2015 after the television personality engaged in a physical altercation with producer producer Oisin Tymon.
“Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position,” former BBC director general Tony Hall said in a 2015 statement. “This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC.”
Hammond and May parted the show shortly after Clarkson’s departure and launched a similar program, “The Grand Tour,” with him for Amazon.
“Top Gear” has also featured English TV and radio personality Chris Evans and “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc. Evans’ tenure on the motoring show was short-lived, but LeBlanc co-hosted from 2016 to 2019. Upon his exit, LeBlanc said he had “great fun” on the series, but ultimately, “time commitment and extensive travel” took away from his time with friends and family.
The BBC, which said it has new projects in development with each of the hosts, added that more information about “Top Gear” will be shared in “the near future.” In the meantime, other “Top Gear” ventures including magazines and international series will remain unaffected by the hiatus.