Future of Top Gear decided 'after health and safety review concluded'

Future of Top Gear will be decided ‘after health and safety review into show is concluded’ – as Freddie Flintoff shares laugh with England’s cricketers with his facial injuries from horror crash continuing to heal

  • Show has been on hiatus since near-fatal crash at test-track in Dunsfold, Surrey
  • Flintoff was recently seen in public for the first time with scars visible on his face 

Top Gear’s future will be decided ‘after a health and safety review into the show is concluded’, sources have revealed.

The show has been on hiatus since filming for the 34th series was axed following Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s near-fatal crash in December 2022 at the show’s test-track at Dunsfold Aerodrome, in Surrey.

Since then the future of show has been left hanging in the balance with some speculating it could be permanently taken off the air.

Flintoff, 45, was the second presenter to be almost killed in a crash on the show, with Richard Hammond left in a coma following a horror smash in 2006. 

Questions remain about whether filming for Top Gear will ever resume, but sources said a decision on the timing of any future shows will be made in ‘due course’ and not until a review into the health and safety of the show has concluded.

The future of Top Gear remains in the balance after filming for the show was halted following Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s horror crash that almost killed him in December 2022

Andrew Flintoff’s facial injuries can still be seen nine months from the crash which left him with broken ribs and bones. Pictured here with the England team at the Oval on Wednesday

Earlier this week, PR experts said the show would struggle to get its stars insured, while yesterday there were claims only professionals could be allowed to take part in dangerous stunts. 

READ MORE: Top Gear producers fear for future of the show amid claims only professionals could be allowed to take part in dangerous stunts

It comes after the England cricket legend was spotted in public for the first time on Saturday.

Flintoff made his first appearance since the accident last week as he returned to working with the England cricket team with cuts noticeable on his nose and mouth. 

He joined Jos Buttler’s side as a consultant during their one-day series against New Zealand and was pictured on the field at The Oval as England players went through their warm-up routine today.

Flintoff’s facial injuries appeared to be better in pictures released today, in comparison to those which were taken on Saturday. 

Though his scars are still noticeable, they are not as visibly prominent as when he made his public return.    

Riccardo Frati, a London-based surgeon with ‘extensive experience in post trauma injuries’, told the Daily Star crashes like the one Flintoff had ‘usually come with a high rate of mortality’. 

Flintoff oversaw a warm-up session ahead of England’s third ODI against New Zealand 

Flintoff’s facial injuries from his Top Gear crash have appeared to improve (right) from when he was first pictured back in the public spotlight since the accident on Saturday (left) 

He said: ‘Multiple superficial or deep wound injuries involving the skin and soft tissue at different layers could have been caused by this type of car crash trauma at such high speed. 

READ MORE:  PR experts say Top Gear will struggle to get stars insured as its future hangs in the balance

‘Deeper structures like facial nerves branches can be temporary or permanently injured and as a result of it, partial or extensive facial paresis can develop.

Frati, after Flintoff was first pictured back with the England camp, said: ‘The right side of his lower face seems to be drooping due to a partial facial nerve injury affecting the various facial muscles responsible for the lower lip and facial muscle expressions. It is possible to be permanent but it will take a long time to recover.’

The former all-rounder, who played the last of his 79 Tests in 2009, was on the pitch talking to some of the players and former Sky commentator Kumar Sangakkara.

Wearing a baseball mitt to act as a makeshift wicketkeeper, Flintoff cut a relaxed figure as he chatted with the players ahead of the third of four ODI against the Kiwis. 

One of the great all-rounders of the English game and the hero of the 2005 Ashes triumph, Flintoff played 141 ODIs before retiring after England won the urn in 2009.

‘It’s important for him, and it’s great for the lads to have him around,’ Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant Test coach, said on Tuesday 

The TV presenter, pictured here on a motorised trike during filming for a previous series of the show, is said to be ‘determined’ to return to screens at some point 

Staff watched in horror as the 45-year-old crashed an open-topped three-wheel Morgan Super 3 car 

Flintoff’s horror crash sports car was not fitted with air bags, it has emerged

Flintoff quit Top Gear after the near-fatal accident and several members of staff who witnessed it signed off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder

‘The knowledge he’s got playing the game and pressure situations – he pretty much encapsulated how this white-ball team goes about their cricket. It’s all about putting the opposition under pressure, which is exactly what he did.

READ MORE: Freddie Flintoff’s near-fatal Top Gear crash in December left the former England cricketer with injuries so severe that he was still ‘covering up his face’ just six weeks ago

Flintoff suffered a near-fatal car crash last December while shooting an episode of BBC motoring series Top Gear at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey.

He was left with severe facial wounds and several broken ribs after his three-wheeled open-top car, which did not have air bags, flipped while filming the hit BBC motoring show on December 13. 

Flintoff then had to wait an ‘agonising’ 45 minutes for an air ambulance – with the BBC later giving him an apology.

The father-of-four, who also narrowly cheated death following a 125mph crash in 2019, quit his Top Gear job after the accident and the BBC cancelled the latest series of the show – with its future remaining in doubt. 

Several members of staff who witnessed the accident signed off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

As a major probe continues into the incident, it emerged that one of the show’s top executives, Clare Pizey – who had been its editorial director since March last year – is due to leave, casting fresh uncertainty over its future.

Flintoff was the latest host injured in horrific accidents while filming Top Gear, following on from former host Richard Hammond, who was left in a coma after losing control of a jet-powered racer in 2006, and Paddy McGuiness, who cheated death after crash a Lamborghini in the Yorkshire Dales in 2020.

Flintoff was spotted chatting to former Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara

The legendary all-rounder returned to cricket with England as he features at the Oval

The serious facial injuries Flintoff suffered in the crash are still visible

Filming on the series was suspended while Flintoff recovered from his injuries and investigations took place, with reports the former professional cricketer was putting his TV career on hold.

It is uncertain whether Flintoff will resume his television career after the accident which left him badly injured and caused him to spend five weeks in hospital. 

The BBC said it would continue to support Flintoff ‘with his recovery’, adding: ‘Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time.

‘We understand this will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgment about how best to continue later this year. 

‘This has also impacted the production team, who we continue to support. Finally there will be a health and safety review of the show, in line with our procedures.’

The latest news around his recovery comes after his ex-England team-mate Steve Harmison revealed he had seen him just six weeks ago when Flintoff was still covering up his face due to the severity of the injuries.

‘It was great to see him back,’ he said on talkSPORT.

Clare Pizey had become Top Gear’s editorial director in 2022 and was previously co-executive producer (Pizey is pictured second from left with presenters Flintoff, right, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris, left). She is is due to leave, casting fresh uncertainty over its future

Flintoff was seen for the first time since the crash last week when he returned to working with the England cricket team at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton

‘It’s been tough, you’ve seen the pictures of him with a smile on his face but I saw him about six weeks ago when my son Charlie and his son, Rocky played against each other and it was great to see him.

READ MORE: Liam Livingstone hails ‘national hero’ Andrew Flintoff as former England talisman returns to the dressing room

‘Obviously I roomed with Andrew for the best part of 15 years and we’d gone through all our careers together and so to see our two sons playing each other, Northumberland against Lancashire, it was fantastic.

‘I got to see him then but at that time he covered his face up when he walked around – believe it or not, he was training a guide dog which I’m sure is going better now than it was because he tripped over around three times on his way around the field!

‘He was on great form, but to see him around the England group, the main team, was fantastic. This England team are a good bunch and not only are they great cricketers, but they’re great ambassadors.

‘Freddie was always brilliant in the dressing room and so to have…[him] in the dressing room with them and feeling comfortable and letting him get his feet under the table because they’ll be in for a show.’

Flintoff’s close friend Piers Morgan revealed that the England great watched the Ashes series ‘incognito’ this summer in back offices as a guest of England managing director Rob Key, who says he is ‘chuffed’ to see his ‘good friend’ returning to public life.

TalkTV host Morgan has now provided more insight into Flintoff’s recovery process and gradual return to the public eye, revealing that he had been watching England’s Ashes series against Australia in secret, thanks to the help of Key.  

Speaking on talkSPORT, Morgan said: ‘I’d heard from various people that through the Ashes series that he was turning up as a guest of Rob Key, who runs England cricket now and is one of his great mates, but they were very incognito and watching it in back offices on TV. A very small number of people went to see him.

Flintoff’s family (pictured with his wife Rachael and three of their four children) reportedly begged him to stay away from the set while he was recovering from his injuries 

Morgan (right) revealed how his ‘good friend’ Flintoff gradually adjusted back to public life 

Steve Harmison (left) – who played with Flintoff (right) for seven years – revealed his ex-team-mate was still covering his face when they met just six weeks ago

‘I was encouraged, but he’s still got a lot of scarring on his face and signs of injury nine months after the crash.

‘I know he’s had a lot of mental health issues because of it, as you would expect because it was a horrendous crash that nearly killed him.’

Morgan, who hosted Flintoff on his Life Stories TV show in 2019, said the Top Gear host had messaged him recently and believes he is now in a ‘better place’ despite his turbulent year.  

‘Freddie is gingerly putting himself back into the game and it’s brilliant to see him laughing and joking and interacting with the public again. I think he needs that,’ he added.

‘I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a good friend of mine and we were really worried about him because the reports of how bad the crash was… that it was real life and death and he was lucky to survive.

‘I’m so chuffed for him and actually got a message from him yesterday. He’s not really been interacting with anybody as he’s been trying to get himself back on track. Now he’s in a better place and I’m really pleased about that.’

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