Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most iconic shows – and the revitalisation it has experienced since Paddy McGuiness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris took on presenting duties has seen the motoring series move from BBC Two to BBC One ahead of the 29th series.
The series will see the popular trio once again test out all sorts of cars and take on a variety of challenges – albeit with a few differences, with the coronavirus pandemic dictating that much of the planned overseas filming had to be scrapped.
So when is the next series on on? And what can viewers expect?
Here’s everything we know so far…
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When is the next series of Top Gear on?
While the BBC have yet to confirm a release date, they have announced that the motoring series will return later this year.
Last year, Top Gear aired three series – first in February, then in June and December – so it originally seemed likely that fans could see another series this Summer, but given the COVID-19 pandemic it’s likely that this could be slightly later than originally planned.
Filming on the series, including several overseas trips, was underway before the pandemic hit but was put on hold as production stalled across the industry.
In a bid to finish the series with as little delay as possible, in May the production team took the decision to scrap all remaining filming in overseas locations and instead focused on items based within the UK.
“It does look like most of our filming will be in the UK this year,” said showrunner Clare Pizey.
“Luckily for us, we had filmed some international and domestic mayhem before the lockdown started, and already have some really funny footage — footage that we absolutely could not film now with all three presenters in a car together,” Pizey said.
Filming eventually resumed on June 12th – starting with an electric car race around Staffordshire’s empty Alton Towers Resort.
Pizey commented, “We are so pleased to be able to start filming again and a deserted theme park is a great place to start. If what we’ve shot so far is anything to go by, social distancing doesn’t get in the way of Paddy, Freddy and Chris having a brilliant time and causing mayhem along the way.”
What channel will it be on?
Top Gear will be moving from BBC Two to BBC One for its 29th series, after its huge success on the former channel.
She said: “The time is right to move the world’s best motor show to the nation’s most popular channel and bring it to an even broader audience on BBC One.
“Freddie, Paddy and Chris have revitalised the hit series with their escapades and banter; and we couldn’t have asked for a better response to their series so far and the impact it’s had with young audiences.”
Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff on Top Gear (BBC)
Since their debut on BBC Two last year June, Paddy, Freddie and Chris have managed to bring in a huge viewing for the revamped show.
The first episode attracted an average consolidated audience of 3.8 million viewers, making it the channel’s most popular programme of 2019.
The long-running entertainment show was also hugely popular amongst young audiences, occupying a spot in the top four shows on British television for 16-34-year olds during each week of its run.
What can viewers expect from the next series of Top Gear?
As usual, the hosts will be pushing their cars and themselves to the limit in the world’s biggest motoring show.
They’ll be travelling to new destinations and trying out some of the latest automobiles and vehicles to see if they really live up to what the manufacturer says, while keeping us entertained with their effortless banter.
And given the pandemic, the show will have a slightly more domestic look than usual – with several planned overseas jaunts having been scrapped due to the virus, although luckily some were filmed before production was halted.
And Clare Pizey has promised that the shift to a more home-grown focus “doesn’t mean less ambition” for the show – so it will be especially intriguing to see what McGuiness, Flintoff and Harris get up to this time round…
Who are the Top Gear presenters?
It’s thought that Paddy, Chris and Freddie will be returning to head up the show for its 29th series.
BBC Studios/Lee Brimble
Many will recognise the TV star from ITV’s Take Me Out, which he presented for nine years from 2010.
He became known on the show for his hilarious catchphrases, including “No likey, no lighty!”.
He has also appeared in comedy shows The Comedy Lab and That Peter Kay Thing on Channel 4.
Speaking about the new approach to the show, Paddy previously said: “It’s not as full on laddy as you might think. You can sit with your friends or your family and watch it on a Sunday night. You don’t have to be a petrolhead to get into it. Well, fingers crossed.”
BBC Studios/Lee Brimble
Racing driver and car journalist Harris joined Top Gear’s presenting line up in 2016 for series 23.
On the BBC website, Harris is described as the best for “brutally honest, no-holds-barred automotive journalism” due to years of experience in the industry.
His YouTube channel Chris Harris On Cars has a huge following, attracting 426k subscribers at the time of writing, and he currently presents the online car review series Chris Harris Drives for topgear.com.
BBC Studios/Lee Brimble
Flintoff is best known for being an international cricketer for England, having made his professional debut in 1998. He won BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award in 2005 after winning the Ashes against Australia and in 2006 he was awarded an MBE.
Retiring from Test cricket in 2010, he then appeared on various shows and eventually teamed up with Paddy and Chris in 2019.
Speaking of his stint on the BBC motoring show, he said: “Doing [Top Gear] is brilliant. I’m not taking anyone on – we’ve got to try and do what’s best for this programme. If you’re thinking that then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”
What happened on the last series?
The 28th series kicked off on 29 December 2019, and saw Paddy, Freddie and Chris head on a British summer holiday in super-cheap second-hand convertibles.
Chris tested out the new Ariel Atom on track, and Freddie attempted to bungee-jump an old Rover off a dam.
“At this point, I wish I’d done Strictly,” he said forlornly before the dive.
Further antics saw Harris racing a fighter jet, Paddy eating guinea pig and the boys racing while covered in industrial lube.
We wonder what they have in store for the new series…
Series 28 and previous episodes of Top Gear are available to watch on BBC iPlayer. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.