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Why Top Gear Was Canceled After Freddie Flintoff's Horrific Car Crash

On November 21, outlets like The Guardian confirmed that the BBC's long-running automotive comedy show — and arguably one of the best British TV shows of all time — "Top Gear" will go on indefinite hiatus. In December of 2022, one of the hosts of its modern-day incarnation, Freddie Flintoff, crashed a car at a high speed on a racetrack the series frequently utilizes. While "Top Gear" has remained off the air in that crash's wake — this episode would have aired in an upcoming Season 34 — the BBC officially announced that there are no plans for its return after representatives for the network returned their findings from a health and safety investigation. The results of that investigation will not become public, but presumably determined that the show cannot continue safely, hence its impact on the series' future.

While "Top Gear" may be no more, the BBC remains committed to employing Flintoff and his now-former co-hosts Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness in some capacity. "[They] 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," reads a statement the network circulated. "All other Top Gear activity remains unaffected by this hiatus including international formats, digital, magazines and licensing."

The BBC took responsibility for Flintoff's crash

Freddie Flintoff's fateful car crash took place while filming a planned Season 34 episode of "Top Gear" on December 13 at the Top Gear test track. In its immediate aftermath, an air ambulance transported him to a hospital. After news of the crash became public, a representative for the BBC confirmed that filming for the show was postponed.

In October, Flintoff and the network agreed to a settlement through which Flintoff received a total of £9 million, which is roughly equivalent to $11 million. Reporting at the time of the settlement's announcement noted that the BBC publicly apologized to Flintoff, and that he was satisfied with their resolution. This wasn't the first time "Top Gear" caused serious damage to one of its hosts' bodies — in 2006, then-host Richard Hammond crashed a drag racing car and had to be placed in a temporary coma.

Also in October, Flintoff appeared in public for the first time since his crash. Before "Top Gear," Flintoff made a name for himself as a Cricket player and coach, and that month he presented a ceremonial hat to a new member of England's national team named Tom Hartley. During a speech accompanying the presentation, Flintoff alluded to going through one of the hardest times of his life in the crash's wake. So, while some specifics may never be public knowledge, signs like these about its severity make the announcement that "Top Gear" will cease indefinitely not all that surprising.