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Top Gear major controversies at a glance

The show went off-screen following presenter Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff’s accident during filming last year

Top Gear presenter Andrew Flintoff. — AFP/File 

BBC’s iconic motoring show — Top Gear — made headlines due to crashes, diplomatic incidents and criticism since its revival in 2002.

A previous iteration of the show — which was aired from the 1970s until the 2000s — revolved around road safety and consumer advice, PA Media reported.

The show, however, went off-screen following presenter Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff’s accident during filming last year.

It is pertinent to mention here that Clarkson presented the new show alongside Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe – who was replaced by James May – which featured stunts, celebrities and challenges in a new studio at an old aircraft hangar in 2002.

In 2006, Hammond was filming for the show when he crashed a jet-powered dragster called Vampire at nearly 320mph at the former RAF Elvington airbase near York. The presenter was in a coma for two weeks and the incident left him with serious head injuries.

In 2011, the Mexican ambassador criticised the show, which saw his country’s people branded “lazy”, “feckless” and “flatulent”. The episode was cleared by Ofcom and the BBC apologised for comments made directly about the ambassador.

In 2014, the show’s presenters – including Hammond, May and Clarkson – were forced out of Argentina in a row over a number plate used while filming the series.

In 2015, Clarkson was dropped from the motoring show over what the BBC called an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on producer Oisin Tymon.

Following the exit of Clarkson, Hammond and May, the corporation announced that radio DJ Chris Evans and Friends star Matt LeBlanc were among the new hosts.

BBC said that “the Cenotaph at no point intended to feature in the programme and therefore will not appear in the final film.”

“We are acutely aware of how some of the images in the press look today via the angle and distance they were taken and for which, as Chris Evans has already said, we sincerely apologise,” read the statement.

Evans and LeBlanc made their debut on screens in May 2016 and their first episode saw 4.4 million viewers, according to overnight ratings.

Take Me Out star Paddy McGuinness and England cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff were then announced in 2018 as presenters of the show.

In September of the same year, he crashed again while driving a three-wheel vehicle at a reported speed of 124mph during filming for the show at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire, but walked away from the incident unharmed.

The next year, McGuinness crashed after skidding on oil and the moment was shown on the show.

In December 2022, Flintoff was taken to hospital after he was hurt while filming for Top Gear at its test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome.

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