After Clarkson’s infamous punch-up with a producer, Top Gear returned in 2016 with an all-new presenter line-up fronted by Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc. Evans quit the show after just one series, and LeBlanc took over as main host alongside Rory Reid and Chris Harris. Since then, the show has proven to be a viable alternative to Clarkson, Hammond and May’s rival show, The Grand Tour, thanks to the trio’s on-screen chemistry.
But just as Top Gear was finally starting to get back on track, LeBlanc announced in May that he will be leaving the show after the next series. We’ve been wondering ever since who will replace the former Friends star. Top Gear has now announced its new presenter line-up for 2019, in what will be the third time the hosts have changed since series 23 in 2016.
After LeBlanc hosts his last series in early 2019, Chris Harris will be joined by comedian Paddy McGuinness and former English cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff when series 27 airs later the same year. In the UK, McGuinness is best known for hosting the dating game show Take Me Out, while Flintoff is a team captain on the sports-themed panel show A League Of Their Own hosted by James Corden.
“Getting the Top Gear gig is a real honor,” said McGuiness. “To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting. Top Gear fans worldwide are a passionate bunch and I consider myself one of them. Now let’s start up this Great British machine and see what it can do.”
“It’s not often you have the chance to do both of your dream jobs, but I’m now lucky enough to say I will have,” said Flintoff. “I’ve always been passionate about cars and I’m so excited to be joining the Top Gear team.”
Chris Harris added: “I think you can tell just how much fun we’re going to have making Top Gear with Paddy and Freddie. They’re both brilliant, natural entertainers – and their mischief mixed with the most exciting cars on the planet is sure to take the show to the next level.”
Rory Reid, who has hosted the show alongside LeBlanc and Harris since 2017, will also return, but will no longer be one of the main hosts. Instead, he will “remain part of the Top Gear family” along with Sabine Schmitz and will continue to front Extra Gear.
Harris and Reid worked well together in the last series, so it’s disappointing to see him dropped from the main presenter line-up. The new presenters seem like unusual choices to front Top Gear, but we’ll reserve judgment until the new series airs next year. It will be interesting to see what direction the show takes since they aren’t well known outside the UK and the only motoring show McGuiness has previously hosted was a little-known show in the UK called Stars in Their Cars in 2016.
Filming for series 27 will begin early next year.