Entertainment & Arts

Top Gear: McGuinness and Flintoff announced as new hosts

Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris will present the new-look show

Paddy McGuinness and Andrew Flintoff will be the new presenters of Top Gear, the BBC has confirmed.

The pair will take over from Matt LeBlanc, after he steps down from presenting duties at the end of the next series.

The comedian and former England cricket captain will join existing presenter and former racing driver Chris Harris to complete the new-look line-up.

Filming for the 27th series of the BBC Two show will begin in early 2019.

Rory Reid, who joined the Top Gear team after the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, will no longer have a main presenting role.

He began fronting spin-off show Extra Gear in 2016, and went on to co-host the main programme alongside LeBlanc and Harris on the most recent series.

Image caption Rory Reid will continue to present Extra Gear

According to the BBC, he "will remain part of the Top Gear family", along with Sabine Schmitz, and will continue to be the face of Extra Gear.

Lancashire lads McGuinness and Flintoff - also known as Freddie Flintoff - were unveiled as the new faces of the motoring show on Monday morning.

McGuinness commented: "Getting the Top Gear gig is a real honour and I'm thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity.

"To be hosting a show I've watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting."

Ashes-winning former cricket captain Flintoff said: "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.

"I've always been passionate about cars and I'm so excited to be joining the Top Gear team."

Image caption Matt LeBlanc announced he was stepping down earlier this year

The next series of Top Gear - LeBlanc's last as lead host and 26th overall - will begin early in 2019 on BBC Two, before Paddy, Freddie and Chris take over later in the year.

Flintoff retired from cricket in 2013 with a recurring knee injury and currently presents the podcast Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy for BBC Radio 5 Live, alongside Robbie Savage and Matthew Syed.

It is unclear whether he will continue to host the award-winning show, which has helped him cement his new career as a presenter and broadcaster.

He has also previously been a team captain on Sky's A League of their Own.

Take Me Out presenter McGuinness rose to fame alongside fellow Lancashire comedian Peter Kay in programmes including Phoenix Nights and Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere.

Earlier this year Paddy hosted Sport Relief on the BBC with Claudia Winkleman.

Image caption Chris Harris (right) will now host alongside McGuinness and Flintoff

Both McGuinness and Flintoff have a number of motoring offences to their names.

McGuinness avoided a driving ban last year after hiring the lawyer sometimes nicknamed Mr Loophole, Nick Freeman. Despite the star having previously pleaded guilty to the driving offence, the case was thrown out on a technicality.

Flintoff, meanwhile, has avoided a ban on several occasions after being caught speeding. In 2014, it was claimed a ban would have an adverse effect on his extensive charity work.

The cricket all-rounder was also stripped of his position as England vice-captain following a drunken escapade on a pedalo in the Caribbean during the 2007 Cricket World Cup in St Lucia.

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