PR experts say Top Gear will struggle to get stars insured
‘Can the BBC keep risking their presenters like this?’ PR experts say Top Gear will struggle to get stars insured as its future hangs in the balance amid concerns over show’s health and safety protocols after Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s horror crash
- Flintoff became latest Top Gear host to be horrifically injured in a crash on show
- Richard Hammond, 53, was almost killed in 320mph crash on the show in 2006
Top Gear will struggle to get stars insured, say PR experts, as the long-running show’s future hangs in the balance amid concerns over its health and safety protocols following Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s horror crash.
Flintoff is still recovering from the injuries he sustained in the near-fatal crash nine months ago.
The 45-year-old 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.
It is the second time a presenter has almost been killed in a horrific smash on the show. In 2006, Richard Hammond was on life support and in a coma after he was involved in a 320mph crash while filming a Top Gear stunt at York’s Elvington airfield.
The 53-year-old was driving a Vampire jet car when one of the tyres blew, causing it to spin out of control and crash, flipping upside down.
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is still recovering from the injuries he sustained in the near-fatal crash nine months ago. The 45-year-old was left with severe facial wounds and several broken ribs
Former presenter Richard Hammond, 53, was almost killed in 2006 and was placed on life support and in a coma
He recently spoke on the Diary of a CEO podcast where he discussed fears he could have onset dementia as a result of the frontal lobe brain injury he endured.
READ MORE: Richard Hammond reveals dementia fear as a result of 2006 320mph car crash
While Flintoff has since quit Top Gear and several members of staff who witnessed the accident signed off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now PR experts say the show could struggle to get future stars insured.
PR guru Mark Borkowski said Flintoff’s injuries were clearly worse than first thought and raised concerns over health and safety used by officials at Top Gear.
He told MailOnline: ‘Anyone sensible looking at this will see pictures of Freddie Flintoff looks a pale shadow of what he once looked like. He must have been pretty badly injured if he was out of commission for nine months still sporting those scars. It suggests his injuries might have been more serious than we thought.
‘The question mark is can Top Gear come back from this? If they’ve managed the news cycle which they have over these injures, the question is Top Gear viable in the future?
‘Replacing people like Clarkson, Hammond and May proved to be very difficult and if Freddie Flintoff isn’t coming back to it then there will be a problem getting the chemistry right.
‘Then there’s the true extent of what happened will soon come out. Can the BBC keep risking their presenters like this? This is the second major accident that should never have happened.
The aftermath of Hammond’s 320mph crash in 2006 while filming a Top Gear stunt at York’s Elvington airfield
Flintoff’s injuries were still visible nine months on from the crash which left him with broken ribs and facial bones. He announced he was quitting Top Gear earlier this year. He was pictured on Sunday at England v New Zealand game in Southampton
Top Gear ‘s future is hanging in the balance as health and safety bosses continue their probe into the near-fatal smash that almost killed co-host Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. Flintoff is pictured with co-hosts Chris Harris and Paddy McGuiness
Clare Pizey had become Top Gear’s editorial director in 2022 and was previously co-executive producer on the show (Clare is pictured second from left with Top Gear presenters Flintoff, right, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris, left)
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 (pictured is Hammond’s crash)
Richard Hammond, right, pictured with former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May (left)
‘It is going to be difficult to get presenters insured on that show. Two accidents have happened there.
‘No matter how safe you’re trying to be, you’re still trying to create exciting entertainment which Top Gear has been doing for years
READ MORE: Flintoff’s Top Gear crash car that left him with face wounds was ‘not fitted with air bags’
‘There is going to be greater scrutiny going forward which means can you still produce a programme that punters want to view. You can’t have cataclysmic accident again.
Speaking of Flintoff’s injuries, he said they were clearly worse than originally thought. ‘There’s more than meets the eye to all this.’
PR and reputation expert Andy Barr said there were huge question marks over whether the show would ever return to the small screen.
He told MailOnline: ‘From a crisis communications perspective, the BBC will be trying to work out how or even if it can ever bring the once global power-house brand of Top Gear back.
‘Given the show has seriously affected the lives of not one, but two globally respected and adored figures, it needs a very carefully managed return back to our screens, if it can come back at all.
‘The BBC is clearly doing the right thing by putting the show on hold indefinitely whilst health and safety reviews and the associated checks and investigations take place.
‘It is a high octane, high pressure TV show but it was also clearly a global cash-cow, so filming delays will be costing them significant amounts and it shows how serious the organisation is about ensuring staff and crew safety that they are not rushing it back.’
The serious accident saw Flintoff quit Top Gear and several members of staff who witnessed it sign off sick indefinitely as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder
Flintoff was seen during a rare public outing at the cricket on Friday. His injuries were still visible
As a major probe continues into the incident, it emerged last month 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.
READ MORE: What happened to Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff? What we know about Top Gear horror crash
In 2006 former Top Gear host Richard Hammond was critically injured while filming a high speed stunt for the show. He was placed in a medically-induced coma after crashing a jet-powered car at over 300mph and spent five weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries.
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.
After not being seeing since his shocking crash, Flintoff has been making a quiet re-introduction to cricket this summer, working with the England team.
Though he appeared in good spirits as he coached the players on Friday, appearing again on Sunday during England’s clash against New Zealand, he still bore the scars of his brush with death.
In the aftermath, his wife Rachael reportedly begged him to stay off work.
The father-of-four was ‘lucky to be alive’ when his open-topped three-wheel Morgan Super 3 flipped over in freezing conditions, according to his son.
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.
Flintoff pictured in 2017 as the host of ITV game show Cannonball which featured a water-based obstacle course on Malta
Flintoff made his return to England cricket after joining the coaching staff as a mentor
An insider told The Times in March: ‘Freddie has been seriously emotionally and physically affected by the crash. He is a daredevil, that’s what he does, and he doesn’t feel like he is able to continue to play that role on the show.’
Reports said Flintoff had decided to leave the programme before the BBC confirmed in March it was halting filming of the following series, which had been set for release in the autumn.
The Mail on Sunday reported the high-speed accident and horrific injuries of the former England cricket star had a ‘significant effect’ on witnesses, preventing them from returning to work.
Sources say that there were many staff present at last December’s smash at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Park aerodrome in Surrey.
One said: ‘The scenes were awful, something you would truly want to unsee. The idea of returning to do that kind of work again for some people is just too much.
‘It has been a terribly hard time for everyone involved in the crash. Some are still struggling with it so have been signed off work.’
Flintoff has yet to take any legal action, but it isn’t known if any of the production team have.
After the crash his wife Rachael reportedly begged him to stay away from work while he recovers, with an insider telling The Sun he would be ‘putting his career on hold until he is in a better place mentally and physically’.
They added: ‘As a loving husband and dad he understands the fear his family feel about what’s happened, knowing that he could have been killed. He is determined to resume his TV work at some point though.
‘That’s why this decision will be a painful one for Freddie, but he knows that, for now at least, there are more important things in life.’
After the incident his 16-year-old son Corey told MailOnline: ‘He’s OK. I’m not too sure what happened but he is lucky to be alive.
‘It was a pretty nasty crash. It is shocking. We are all shocked but just hope he’s going to be OK.’
The nightmare crash was the latest in a string of high-speed blunders that have blighted the show.
In 2019, Flintoff was heard fearfully yelling, ‘I can’t stop,’ as he hurtled head-first down a runway just inches off the ground in a three-wheeled cycle car
Flintoff was injured as cameras were rolling to capture his opinion of the car for the show’s review segment (file photo)
Flintoff,. who stopped to speak to people, has been making a quiet re-introduction to cricket this summer, working with the England team
He was announced in October 2018, ahead of the show’s 27th series, as a new host of Top Gear alongside Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris.
Flintoff was previously involved in a minor incident when he slammed into a market stall in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in February 2019.
In September of the same year he crashed again while driving a three-wheel vehicle at a reported speed of 124mph during filming for Top Gear at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire, but walked away from the incident unharmed.
He was heard fearfully yelling, ‘I can’t stop,’ as he hurtled head-first down a runway just inches off the ground in a three-wheeled cycle car. He had been racing his co-hosts when he realised he was running out of road and about to overshoot the finish line – seeing him spin off in a cloud of dust.
And former Top Gear host Richard Hammond was also critically injured on the same track while filming a high speed stunt for the show in 2006.
He was placed in a medically-induced coma after crashing a jet-powered car at over 300mph and spent five weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries.
And in 2020, Paddy McGuinness also cheated death after losing control of a red Lamborghini in the Yorkshire Dales in 2020.
Since Flintoff’s crash in December 2022, the BBC has been carrying out an internal review of the incident with the findings expected to be made public soon.
In March, the BBC apologised to retired sportsman over the smash, saying: ‘(BBC Studios) have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery.’
The corporation also confirmed production on season 34 of Top Gear had ceased: ‘Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time.
The same statement said there would be a health and safety review of the show.
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. It’s understood his wife had begged him not to return to the show.
Meanwhile, Top Gear’s editorial director Clare Pizey is set to leave after seven years at BBC studios.
Top Gear’s editorial director Clare Pizey is leaving BBC Studios after seven years at the company
Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff (pictured) was seriously injured in a crash while filming the latest series of Top Gear
On Friday, Flintoff appeared in good spirits as he spent time with the England U19s team in Wales
Ms Pizey wrote on Instagram she was leaving BBC Studios and said it had ‘been a privilege’ to work on the show, adding she was ‘so grateful to the incredibly talented production teams and presenters’.
A spokesperson from BBC studios said: ‘Top Gear’s editorial director Clare Pizey is leaving BBC Studios after seven years.
‘With co-executive producer Alex Renton, Clare reinvented and re-energised the motoring entertainment show with the introduction of Paddy [McGuinness], Freddie and Chris [Harris] – and she oversaw Top Gear’s hugely successful move to BBC One in 2020.
‘During her time at BBC Studios Clare also executive produced Children in Need, Sport Relief and Top Gear spin-off format The Getaway Car.
‘We wish her the very best of luck with her next adventure.’
The filming of Top Gear has still not resumed and is not expected to in the near future.
MailOnline has approached BBC for comment.
Top Gear crashes through the years
Richard Hammond crashes a Vampire Dragster – 2006
Richard was left fighting for his life after crashing the jet-powered car while going at 288 mph as he tested the vehicle at the former RAF Elvington airbase near York. Hammond was completing a seventh and final run in the car when the front-right tyre blew-out and the dragster veered off the runway, rolled over, and Hammond was left with a traumatic head injury and was in a coma for two weeks. In the year following the crash the TV presenter returned to the show and spoke about the crash on the Jonathan Ross Show, but couldn’t remember any of it because of his injuries.
Shocking: Richard was left fighting for his life after crashing the Vampire Dragster while going at 288 mph as he tested the vehicle at the former RAF Elvington airbase
Freddie Flintoff crashes a jet trike – 2019
In September, Freddie revealed he suffered a nasty escape after a high speed crash in a jet trike during filming. The cricket star, 41, insisted he was ‘absolutely fine’ after his jet trike careered off the road during a race at the Elvington Airfield near York. Freddie reportedly careered his high speed trike off the road as he filmed the high-speed race. Crew members rushed to Freddie – who was wearing a full motorcycling suit and helmet for the scenes – but he emerged with barely a scratch.
Close call: In September last year, Freddie revealed he suffered a nasty escape after a high speed crash in a jet trike during filming
Paddy McGuinness’ back axel comes off his Pontiac Firebird – 2020
In the latest series of Top Gear, Paddy embarked on the ‘original’ American Road Trip with Freddie and Chris Harris. He arrived in their start point of Peru with a Pontiac Firebird which didn’t have a roof amongst several other problems. When the trio decided to test out their cars on a straight 1/4 mile stretch of road Paddy’s car only got a few yards before the back end of the axel came apart entirely and he was forced to abandon the car.
In the latest series of Top Gear, Paddy was forced to abandon his Pontiac Firebird after the back end of the axel came apart entirely (pictured)
Jeremy Clarkson flips over his Reliant Robin – 2010
In a now famous segment from Top Gear, former presenter Jeremy flipped over a Reliant Robin multiple times. The motorcar journalist was flipping it over to prove that the three-wheeled car could easily tip over. In his Sunday Times driving column Jeremy revealed that he had actually asked crew to tinker with the car ‘so that the poor little thing rolled over every time I turned the steering wheel’.
Flipping heck: In a now famous segment from Top Gear, former presenter Jeremy Clarkson flipped over a Reliant Robin multiple times (pictured)
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