Top Gear’s new presenter Freddie Flintoff unfazed by pressure of joining show

Incoming Top Gear presenter Freddie Flintoff has said he feels unfazed by the pressure of joining the the long-running motoring show.

The former England cricketer and comedian Paddy McGuinness join Chris Harris as presenters for the new series, of which two episodes have been filmed.

Speaking at BBC Studios’ Showcase event in Liverpool, Flintoff said he would channel the same competitive spirit he felt during his sporting career into making the series a success.

Freddie Flintoff
Freddie Flintoff attends the BBC Studios Showcase 2019 in Liverpool (BBC/PA)18 Feb 2019

BBC bosses hope the new roster will boost Top Gear’s ratings, which have fallen since the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Flintoff, a panellist on Sky One sports show A League Of Their Own, said he was focused only on enjoying the experience.

He told the Press Association: “The thing I like is that I’ve always been part of a team in my previous profession.

“I love that, and Top Gear is like that. With (producers) Claire and Alex and everyone else, you feel part of something.

“Pressure is only what you put on yourself. You can’t affect outside influences, I learnt that as a sportsman. You’ve got to allow yourself to enjoy what you are doing.

Paddy McGuinness
Paddy McGuinness is also joining the line-up (BBC/PA)

“I’ve no fear of failure. As a sportsman that’s the attitude I took, and that’s the attitude I took with this. I’m in a privileged position and if I’m not enjoying it, I haven’t got half a chance.”

The 26th series, which began on Sunday, is its last featuring Friends star Matt LeBlanc and Rory Reid as main presenters.

Flintoff added: “I’ve been lucky. Since I was 16 I’ve never had a job as such. Well, I worked behind the record counter at Woolworths but I loved that as well.

“Since then it’s just been cricket to the TV stuff, and now this.

“I’ve found the crew is a good gauge. If the crew are enjoying their work, and we are as well, we are doing something right.”

Acknowledging that the show came with “a certain amount of emotional baggage”, Harris said Top Gear was “in a different place” than it had been during LeBlanc and Chris Evans’ time as presenters.

The new Top Gear line-up
BBC bosses hope the new line-up will boost the show’s viewer ratings (David Parry/PA)

He added that – based on his experience filming the first two episodes of the series – he expected the revamped roster to attract a new audience.

McGuinness said he thought Flintoff and himself had been chosen because they would thrive on the pressure.

He said: “I think if you get a call saying, ‘do you fancy doing Top Gear? and you go, ‘oh no, a bit too much pressure’ then you’re not meant for the job, are you really?

“You’ve got to grab it with both hands and run with it.”

Flintoff, McGuinness and Harris were speaking at the BBC Studios’ Showcase event in Liverpool, the world’s largest international television market hosted by a single distributor.