BBC’s Top Gear has two new leading hosts alongside Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness and Andrew Flintoff, who are two white English dudes instead of the promising co-hosts Sabine Schmitz and Rory Reid. Since neither come from journalism or racing background, you may be wondering if they can drive! Turns out they can, at least beyond the speed limit on the motorway.
Everyone’s favourite BBC motoring show has been in a state of near-continual flux since Jeremy Clarkson punched a guy over some cold cuts, got fired and took his buds to Amazon’s The Grand Tour. Now Top Gear returns for a 27th series, and beloved YouTube tire-slayer Chris Harris is back as well—with two new fresh faces also hosting.
Hosting the world’s biggest automotive television program is a big gig, and naturally it’s going to raise questions about any new host’s driving background, including their driving record. As the BBC was quick to point out in its article about McGuinness and Flintoff taking the new Top Gear hosting roles, both of the new hosts have come close to losing their driving licenses in recent years.
The most recent was McGuinness last year, who originally pleaded guilty to speeding from August of 2016 but withdrew his claim after hiring a lawyer nicknamed “Mr. Loophole,” according to the Birmingham Mail.
A Range Rover owned by McGuinness was caught by a speed camera, but McGuinness claimed he may not have been the driver at the time, and that the court failed to send him the appropriate documentation of the case. It was eventually thrown out on a technicality, dropping the proposed 12 points on his licence which would have been a mandatory driving suspension.
The other new host, Andrew Flintoff, has been in the tabloids a lot more for his naughty driving habits. In 2007, he lost his Vice-Captain position on the English cricket team after drunkenly overturning a paddle boat in the Caribbean while on an eight-hour bender with his teammates, according to the Guardian. Can we really blame him for this one? I mean, what else are you supposed to do in the Caribbean? He reportedly went sober in 2012.
While Flintoff’s days of “dancing naked to Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire” and drunkenly turning over paddle boats may be over, he still loves a good speed run on public motorways. In 2008, he was caught by speed camera going 140km/h, but got out of it on technicality when it was determined the prosecution noticed arrived too late.
He got three more points for speeding in both August 2011 and June 2012, and in 2014, Flintoff narrowly avoided his first driving ban after getting caught going 140km/h in a 80km/h zone in a Bentley, according to the Manchester Evening News. His winning argument was that being banned from driving would cause “exceptional hardship” by hurting his charity work and damaging his TV career, according to the Manchester Evening News.
He came close to losing his licence again in 2016 when he was caught going 93km/h in a 64km/h zone in his Mercedes S300L. His lawyer claimed he had just come out of a 80km/h zone, but the court only added four points to his licence with a fine, bringing it 10 total, just two shy of mandatory suspension.
Is any of this bad? At least it’s somewhat relatable. While none of it reaffirms my suspicions that these two new Top Gear hosts are just going to come across as rich British celebrities doing a fun gig, and not like the days of old where it was rich British car enthusiasts doing a fun gig, it’s at least reassuring that they get into as much trouble speeding as I did when I was 17.
I’m excited for this final season with Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, Rory Reid and Sabine Schmitz, and I hope they can make this new team of meatheads work somehow so this show can get back in a good groove finally.
— Tiff Needell (@tiff_tv) October 22, 2018