James May lambasts fans for Top Gear question after Freddie Flintoff news

’The bloke hurt himself very badly in a life-changing way,’ co-host of ‘The Grand Tour’ said

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 22 November 2023 14:35 GMT
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Former Top Gear host James May has criticised the show’s die-hard fanbase for their response to Freddie Flintoff’s crash, which occurred during production.

The cricketer-turned-presenter was airlifted to hospital on 13 December 2022 after crashing while filming a car review at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, home of the show’s test track.

On Tuesday (21 November), the BBC announced it would “rest” the show indefinitely in the wake of the accident, news it acknowledged would be “disappointing” for fans of the motoring show.

May, who co-hosted Top Gear from 12 years until 2016, said the reaction from what he branded the “car show-erati” annoyed him.”

In an episode of BBC’s Today podcast set to be released this week, May said that “the people who watch car shows” would send him messages” asking him to return as host to “rescue” the series.

“[They] were saying, ‘Well, now they’ve done that wrong, you can come back in and rescue it,’” he said. “I was just thinking, ‘The bloke has hurt himself very badly in a life-changing way and you could perhaps not use it as an opportunity to be partisan. You could perhaps say, ‘Rotten bit of luck, get well soon’.”

(Getty Images)

May admitted the show “does need a bit of a rethink” should it return, stating: “Since we left, Top Gear has followed a similar format and framework to the way we left it.

“There must be another way of doing a show about cars that will perhaps embrace more fulsomely many of the questions that are being asked about cars that weren’t being asked for a long time.”

May, who presented the series with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, said their new show The Grand Tour currently “monopolises” the “big boy adventures” that Top Gear tries to emulate.

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Flintoff suffered “life-alteringly significant injuries” in his accident, which was investigated by the BBC after it occurred.

Last month, it was reported that Flintoff had agreed a financial settlement with the BBC worth £9m.

Ricjatd Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on ‘The Grand Tour’ (PA)

Following the health and safety review, the BBC has said it will “rest” the show for an indefinite amount of time.

The BBC said: “Given the exceptional circumstances, the BBC has decided to rest the UK show for the foreseeable future.

“The BBC remains committed to Freddie, Chris [Harris] and Paddy [McGuinness], who have been at the heart of the show’s renaissance since 2019, and we’re excited about new projects being developed with each of them.

“We will have more to say in the near future on this. We know resting the show will be disappointing news for fans, but it is the right thing to do.”

“All other Top Gear activity remains unaffected by this hiatus including international formats, digital, magazines and licensing.”

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