The finale of Top Gear’s 30th series aired on Sunday, with Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris buying the perfect sports cars for men facing a midlife crisis, before testing the new Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch out on the track.
While this year’s series was shorter than usual, with just four episodes airing, it was no less entertaining. The car-loving trio travelled across the Scottish Highlands, took some of James Bond’s vehicles out for a spin and even headed to the Lake District for an emotional reunion with their dads’ old motors.
The final episode paid tribute to German racing driver and Top Gear presenter Sabine Schmitz, who died in March at the age of 51.
A special episode dedicated to Schmitz is set to air on Wednesday and is already available to watch on BBC iPlayer, with former hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May as well as Matt LeBlanc and Rory Reid returning to reflect on the Queen of the Nürburgring’s life and career.
Hopefully it won’t be long until the Top Gear trio are back on our screens with series 31, but until then – here’s everything you need to know about Top Gear’s return.
When is the next series of Top Gear on?
Top Gear returned to our screens for its 30th series in mid-March, which came to an end on Sunday 4th April in its usual time slot of 8pm, just before Line of Duty.
Top Gear will return to BBC One on Wednesday 7th April at 7:30pm for a 30-minute tribute episode in which presenters past and present – including Jeremy Clarkson and Matt LeBlanc – reflect on the life and career of Sabine Schmitz, who recently passed away aged 51.
The special is currently available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
Series 30 of Top Gear has been shorter than usual, consisting of just four episodes due to production issues which arose during the coronavirus pandemic.
Not to worry though – Paddy McGuinness recently told Metro.co.uk that the Top Gear team have started working on future series of the show.
“It had its difficulties this one, and that’s why we could only do four,” he said. “We’re already starting to look at the next series and, fingers crossed, hopefully the restrictions will start easing and we will have a bit more license. Who knows, we might even be able to do a trip abroad again.
“It’s good to be back with the boys again. It’s a pleasure, and we’ve kind of found our stride and we just keep trying to improve every series.”
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 was broadcast slightly later than originally planned, and in a shorter five-part run.
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.
Eventually producers managed to make four episodes, including overseas segments such as the tour of Cyprus and testing supercars in Italy, alongside a number crazy stunts in the UK like the Wall of Death.
Top Gear showrunner Clare Pizey said: “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.”
Filming eventually resumed on June 12th – starting with an electric car race around Staffordshire’s empty Alton Towers Resort.
The new socially-distanced studio was actually a field turned into an outdoor drive-in.
Paddy, Freddie and Chris welcomed audience members in their cars to pull up and watch the show.
What channel will Top Gear be on?
Top Gear moved from BBC Two to BBC One for its 29th series in October, after its lengthy success on the former channel since it premiered in 2002. It achieved figures of 5.57 million for episode four on BBC One, the highest since Chris Evans’ debut in 2016.
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, explained why the show moved across to the flagship channel: “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.”
Since their debut on BBC Two in June 2019, Paddy, Freddie and Chris have managed to bring in big numbers for the revamped show.
The first episode of season 27 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 among young audiences last year, occupying a spot in the top four shows on British television for 16-34-year olds during each week of its run.
What happened in series 30 of Top Gear?
Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness provided even more car-based shenanigans in the world’s biggest motoring show this year – although for the first time in the series’s history, there was no studio audience.
The trio were also unable to travel the globe for the show due to the ongoing pandemic, and so filmed all of the series’ various segments in the UK.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, McGuinness said that he really enjoyed filming in Britain. “Because, you know, you live here and you sort of take everything for granted.”
“But when you get out and about like you’re seeing the lake districts and going off to Scotland. The UK is absolutely beautiful, even in the winter it’s beautiful so yeah it was a treat to see it especially in the Middle of this b****y pandemic.”
While Flintoff added: “In Scotland with some of the weather we had, we got the snow you probably thought it was abroad. You could have been in Canada or somewhere. It was unbelievable.”
Harris even said that he doesn’t think Top Gear will “move around to the same extent” as it did before after the pandemic, saying: “I think lots of people that have travelled an awful lot over the last 10 years for their work now realise how much they genuinely hated a lot of it and how much they hated airports and maybe we won’t go back to doing the same thing.”
As for series 30, the three presenters steered clear of any car crashes after the big accidents of last year’s shows.
“We have two reformed characters,” Harris told The Mirror, referring to Flintoff and McGuinness. “It’s been joyous. There has been very little bent metal, there has been respect for the machinery. This is a new Top Gear.”
Last year’s series saw McGuinness crash a £250,000 Lamborghini Diablo whilst driving in Yorkshire, while Flintoff ran out of runway whilst riding a motorised trike at Elvington Airfield in 2019.
While there won’t be any collisions in the upcoming episodes, there’s still a lot of excitement in store for car enthusiasts, with the hosts heading to the Lake District for a reunion with their dads’ old cars, testing out Lamborghini’s most powerful model to date – the hybrid Sian, a look at James Bond’s cars over the years and the trio getting behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta, a Cortina and a BMW just to name a few.
Series 29 saw a number of changes to the Top Gear format due to COVID-19, with the long-running segment Star in a Reasonably Priced Car axed.
Who are the Top Gear presenters?
Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff will be returning to co-present the show for its 30th series.
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.”
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 453,000 subscribers at the time of writing, and he currently presents the online car review series Chris Harris Drives for topgear.com.
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 season 29 of Top Gear?
The 28th series kicked off on 29th December 2019, and saw Paddy, Freddie and Chris head on a British summer holiday in super-cheap second-hand convertibles.
The five-part season 29 then premiered on BBC One on Sunday 4th October.
In season 29, the trio race 200mph original supercars in Yorkshire and McGuinness famously crashed his Lamborghini Diablo.
The presenters also travelled to Cyprus for a weekend adventure in cheap rental cars with a budget of €30, which culminated in a ski race on four wheels down a mountain (who knew they have ski fields in Cyprus?).
The series featured a wonderful tribute by Harris to the late great British racing ace Stirling Moss, while the final episode starred McGuinness in his latest wacky contraption: an electric, all-terrain ice cream van for the 21st century called Mr Nippy, which was involved in a paintballing battle with Flintoff’s hot foods wagon.
Season 29 of Top Gear was a hit with viewers. It started with an average audience of 4.86 million on BBC One, which had grown to 5.57 million by episode four.