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Top Gear’s former Stig says show’s ‘on-site monitoring’ could be adapted

Former Top Gear Stig Perry McCarthy has said he is “frustrated” that the BBC show has been rested as he feels it could be adapted to implement “better on-site monitoring”.

The BBC announced on Tuesday that the hit motoring show will not return for the “foreseeable future” following a crash during filming last year in which host Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff was seriously injured.

After the former England cricket captain’s crash in December 2022, the corporation stopped production on the show as it felt “it would be inappropriate to resume”.

England v Ireland – Second Metro Bank ODI – Trent Bridge
Freddie Flintoff was involved in a crash during filming for the show (Tim Goode/PA)

Following the news, former racing driver McCarthy, who was the first to star as the mysterious helmet-wearing racing driver in the long-running hit motoring programme, told the PA news agency: “I’m frustrated on several different levels and I just think it’s unacceptable.”

The BBC said in a statement given to the PA news agency that it knows that resting the show will be “disappointing news for fans” but that it was “the right thing to do”.

It added that the BBC would say more in the near future but for now “all other Top Gear activity remains unaffected by this hiatus including international formats, digital, magazines and licensing”.

Following the crash, a health and safety production review was conducted into previous series of Top Gear but did not include Flintoff’s incident.

BBC Studios said this investigation found it had complied with the required BBC policies and industry best practice in making the show but that “important learnings” would “need to be rigorously applied to future Top Gear UK productions”.

It added: “The report includes a number of recommendations to improve approaches to safety as Top Gear is a complex programme-making environment routinely navigating tight filming schedules and ambitious editorial expectations – challenges often experienced by long-running shows with an established on and off-screen team.

“Learnings included a detailed action plan involving changes in the ways of working, such as increased clarity on roles and responsibilities and better communication between teams for any future Top Gear production.”

McCarthy said he feels the show could employ these suggested practices, saying: “You’ll never eradicate risk from some TV shows that have action and drama in them, you won’t eradicate it, (but) you can always seek to squeeze it down.”

Top Gear Bond special
Andrew Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris during the filming of Top Gear (BBC/PA)

The former Top Gear star added: “I feel that they could do all the things they did, but with better on-site monitoring.

“So if somebody was there who really understood these kinds of risks, they really understood what could happen, then they could advise there and then, turn around and say ‘I’m sorry, you’re going to have to do this or this precaution’s going to have to be taken or presenter you are going to have to back off a little bit because you’re too wild here, you’re too quick’.”

Meanwhile, former Top Gear presenter James Dawe said he felt it was the “right decision” for Top Gear to be rested as he feels it could not recapture the chemistry of the original hosts – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May – following their departure.

He said: “For many fans of the show it has not been the same since Jeremey, Richard and James left and although many presenters have stepped up and played their part over the past few years, the essential chemistry of the show was never recaptured.

“I wish the most recent presenting line-up success with ‘Life after Top Gear’… and to Freddie a continued recovery”.

On December 13 last year, former professional cricketer Flintoff was taken to hospital after being involved in the incident while filming the series at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

In September, father-of-four Flintoff was photographed for the first time in public since the crash and had visible facial injuries.

Flintoff made his debut as Top Gear co-host alongside Paddy McGuinness in June 2019, joining motoring journalist and racing driver Chris Harris.