Comedian Paddy McGuinness and former cricket player Freddie Flintoff will replace Matt LeBlanc as presenters on “Top Gear,” the BBC announced Monday. The duo will join driver Chris Harris on the popular motoring show, while Rory Reid is stepping down from the main presenting lineup.
Season 27 of the series, which airs on BBC Two, will begin production in early 2019, with broadcast expected later in the year.
“This is a thrilling maneuver from the ‘Top Gear team,’ and I’m relishing what this trio will deliver,” said Patrick Holland, the controller of BBC Two. “Both Paddy and Freddie love their cars, but more than that, they’ll bring a new energy and competitive spirit to ‘Top Gear.'”
LeBlanc’s departure from the show was announced in May, paving the way for yet another reboot of “Top Gear” amid tumbling ratings. The “Friends” star and Chris Evans formed the first team that replaced longtime hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, who went on to front Amazon’s rival show, “The Grand Tour.” Evans left two years ago amid criticism of the chemistry between him and LeBlanc.
The two new “Top Gear” hosts are homegrown British talents. McGuinness is a primetime entertainment host. Flintoff, who once played cricket on a national team that won the coveted Ashes championship, is also a TV presenter. They and Harris were officially unveiled as the new face of “Top Gear” on Monday morning at a photo call on the banks of the Thames.
Reid, who has co-presented for several years, is giving up main hosting duties but will continue to present the sister show “Extra Gear,” the BBC said. He is expected to help expand “Top Gear’s” digital presence.
“To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting,” McGuinness said. “‘Top Gear’ fans worldwide are a passionate bunch and I consider myself one of them.”