Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness hit Top Gear ... in hearse

Kevin Rawlinson


Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness hurtle around a rainy Welsh racetrack in a souped-up hearse in the first footage to be released from the new series of Top Gear.

The pair join Chris Harris as presenters for the 27th series of the BBC motoring programme, which will air this summer. In the clip, McGuinness tries to convince the group the perfect secondhand family car is, in fact, a hearse.

To test out his theory, they buy a 1995 Daimler hearse for £1,300, known as the Undertaker, and carry out modifications including installing a ball pit.

The clip shows Flintoff putting the hearse to the test on a Welsh rally track as McGuinness cries out from the back seat: “Go easy on the car, it’s a prototype.”

The dramatic strains of Verdi’s Dies Irae ring out as the hearse tips and rolls on to its side and multi-coloured balls tumble about.

The 26th series of the programme, which finished on Sunday, was the last with former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc at the wheel.

The star joined the BBC Two show in 2016. He took over presenting duties from James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson when the latter’s contract was not renewed by the BBC after he launched an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on a colleague.

Clarkson was initially suspended after the incident involving a producer and told his BBC career was over after a report was concluded. He was found to have physically and verbally assaulted the producer. The report said: “The [verbal] abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom.”

LeBlanc was joined by co-host Chris Evans and a lineup of presenters including Harris, Rory Reid, Eddie Jordan and Sabine Schmitz, for the 23rd season of the programme, which is broadcast in more than 200 territories around the world.

Evans left the following series and Harris and Reid stepped up to be co-hosts. Last year, LeBlanc announced he was stepping down at the end of the 26th season because of the demands of the role. Reid is also leaving the main show, but will continue hosting the spin-off show Extra Gear.

The show’s viewing figures have dipped to an average of about three million for the latest series – significantly less than the average of more than five million who watched Clarkson, Hammond and May’s final series.