Can new Top Gear recruits Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness rekindle the show's old magic?
It’s not often you see a hearse cornering so fast that it rolls over, but that’s one of the treats in store as Top Gear returns for a new series. The big news is the arrival of Take Me Out’s Paddy McGuinness and A League of Their Own’s Freddie Flintoff, who look set to recapture the classic chemistry of the Clarkson/Hammond/May era as they team up with long-suffering co-presenter Chris Harris.
What's On TV meets up with new Top Gear recruits Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff for a sneak preview of the new series…
What's on TV: What’s it been like joining Top Gear?
Paddy McGuinness: “I’m not very well travelled, as you’ll see throughout the series, so for me it’s been a voyage of discovery. You can get swept up with brake horsepower and all that, but we’re coming at it more like: ‘Where’s the cup-holder?!’”
Freddie Flintoff: “I’ll be honest with you, it was like being picked for England again, coming from my background to doing a show as big as this!”
WOTV: What were your first driving experiences?
Freddie: “My dad was groundsman at his cricket club, so I used to drive his Ford Cortina with the mowers on the back, cutting the grass.”
Paddy: “I was driving from the age of 10 or 11 in my dad’s Hillman Avenger. Because in Bolton, back then, there was hardly anyone on the roads!”
WOTV: One of your Top Gear challenges involves driving the first cars you bought. What were they?
Paddy: “Mine was a Mk II Ford Escort. It cost £90. I put alloy wheels on it, and twin Weber carburetors not realizing they would suck the fuel. But it sounded great!”
Freddie: “After I passed my test – at the third attempt - I leased a Rover 1.6, which I thought was the nuts. Then I had loads of other cars, but never bought one till I got a Porsche Boxster.”
WOTV: What do you drive now?
Paddy: “I’m in a Range Rover. You can get three kids’ seats across the back and never have to take them out. It’s covered in chocolate buttons and pop bottles – it’s never clean!”
Freddie: “My daily drive is a Porsche 997 Turbo and we’ve got a Mercedes GLS350d for the family. My other car is a Lamborghini Murcielago. I feel a right idiot driving it. I can’t use the left indicator because my left knee is in the way!”
WOTV: What would we find in your glove box?
Paddy: “Wet wipes.”
Freddie: “I don’t think I’ve opened the glove box!”
WOTV: How have people reacted to hearing you’re joining Top Gear?
Freddie: “The number of my mates who’ve wanted tickets to come to the Top Gear studio. I couldn’t give tickets away for the cricket!”
Paddy: “In Bolton, whatever you do, people are like: ‘Don’t come in here thinking you are all that!’”
Top Gear returns to BBC2 on Sunday 16 June at 8pm
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Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.