The BBC has announced comedian Paddy McGuinness and former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff as the new co-hosts of Top Gear.
Starting with series 27 next Autumn, the new line-up will follow the end of series 26, which still features Matt LeBlanc, who quit unexpectedly five months ago, Harris and friend of CT Rory Reid as lead hosts.
For the new-look show Reid is sadly - maybe even unfairly - being pulled from his duties on the main show but will still present Extra Gear, the franchise’s whisky chaser that features sweet additional features, guests and behind the scenes insight.
The decision to keep Harris will be popular, we feel. But to install Flintoff, who after retiring from cricket has spent a number of years on the comedy panel show A League of Their Own, and McGuinness, whose career highlight is as the innuendo-rich host of Take Me Out, is proving less popular on Twitter.
In a statement released by the BBC, McGuinness, who found fame in the superb comedy series Phoenix Nights, said:
“Getting the Top Gear gig is a real honour and I’m thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity.
“To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting.”
Flintoff, who on top of his TV duties also presents a podcast with former footballer Robbie Savage and ex-professional ping pong player Matthew Syed, added this:
“It’s not often you have the chance to do both of your dream jobs, but I’m now lucky enough to say I will have.
“I’ve always been passionate about cars and I’m so excited to be joining the Top Gear team.”
As for Chris ‘Monkey’ Harris, the official line is that he’s over the moon about his new comedy sidekicks. In a BBC press release he said:
“I think you can tell just how much fun we’re going to have making Top Gear with Paddy and Freddie. They’re both brilliant, natural entertainers – and their mischief mixed with the most exciting cars on the planet is sure to take the show to the next level.
“My dream job just got even better.”