Shropshire Star

An end to Top Gear high jinks on West Midlands roads as BBC calls time on series

The thrills and spills of Top Gear will no longer be causing chaos on Midlands roads after it was revealed the hit motoring show has ran out of gas.

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Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff in a Top Gear Telford episode

The BBC announced today the iconic show, which has been on our screens for decades, is being "rested for the foreseeable future" in the wake of presenter Andrew Flintoff's crash which left him with facial injuries.

The West Midlands has always been popular with Top Gear producers, whether it was roaring around motor city Birmingham or speeding around the Wrekin.

The M6 was also a familiar sight in the show when presenters were rushing from one part of the country to another during one of their madcap challenges. Presenters' brows often furrowed when they realised their race against the clock could not compete with the traffic on the M6.

In one episode Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were sent to West Bromwich during a Black Country-inspired show.

In 2010 the beloved trio of presenters, which made the show a global hit before leaving in a storm of controversy after Jeremy Clarkson's physical altercation with a producer, visited West Bromwich car manufacturer Jensen Motors Ltd.

The renowned company, set up by Richard and Allan Jensen in 1934, built sports cars and commercial vehicles, but eventually went bankrupt, ceasing trading in 1976 following a buy-out in 1959.

The company built exclusive custom bodies for standard cars produced by several manufacturers of the day including Morris, Singer, Standard, and Wolseley.

The presenters and their production team approached West Bromwich company Reliant Windows Ltd at its base on Kelvin Way, the former home of Jensen to show them around the area.

The three presenters drove classic sports cars – Jeremy Clarkson in a Jensen Healey, Solihull-born Richard Hammond in a Lotus and James May in a TVR, from the Lotus factory at Hethel to the old site of the Jensen factory in Kelvin Way, West Bromwich.

Once on site, the presenters discussed the heritage and history of the site, the Jensen Healey car itself and had a look at what was happening there in those days.

James May and Jeremy Clarkson in West Bromwich in 2010

Reliant Window's director, Nick Allen was thrilled with the whole experience.

He said: "The directors at Top Gear came into our offices and asked if we were happy to be a part of the programme.

"The Jensen name is viewed with a great deal of nostalgia and fondness in the West Bromwich area and it was great for our staff to meet the presenters and for them to take an interest in our business – a good local company employing local people."

Nine years later, the line-up of presenters was very different. Clarkson, Hammond and May had switched lane from the BBC to Amazon for a megabucks deal to create The Grand Tour.

Meanwhile, Top Gear was now being sold to 150 territories and there are 11 local format versions including in the United States, France and Finland.

Chris Evans had come and gone. Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris were in front of camera and showing how motoring had changed in the intervening years. The three visited Telford for a challenge involving their own custom-made electric vehicles.

The trio attended Telford International Centre in 2019 to film a section with their own custom-made electric vehicles. It was shot as part of the Energy and Rural Business Show.

Each vehicle was a never-before-seen custom-made model and only the visitors to the show could see the cars before the Top Gear episode aired.

Bobby George and Freddie Flintoff in Telford

In the show Paddy and Freddie talked up their own vehicles to visitors to the show with the help of special guests, Countdown presenter Nick Hewer and darts legend Bobby George.

Paddy enjoyed the nightlife in Wellington during the filming and was happy to pose for photos and chat to locals.

In the show Freddie, who also got members of the audience to exercise to help charge his vehicle, said: "In a matter of minutes you will be thanking me. This is the first in the automotive sector.

"Today, in Telford, I am going to show you a first of its kind – a car which makes you green which at the same time makes you lean.

"Do you really want to plug a car in every night to charge? We can charge this car. The energy transfers into the batteries which takes the car anywhere."

Energy and Rural Business Show event director David Jacobmeyer remembered his time helping the show fondly. He said: "Having Top Gear, including the new presenting trio of Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris, at the show is brilliant."

However, three years later in December 2022, former England cricket star Flintoff was involved in a horrific crash in Surrey.

Flintoff, 45, was taken to hospital in December 2022 after he was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome.

Filming was put on hold as investigations into the crash were carried out. Flintoff, who still has serious facial injuries, was given a multi-million pound compensation deal by the BBC.

However, today, a spokesman for the BBC said: “Given the exceptional circumstances, the BBC has decided to rest the UK show for the foreseeable future.

“The BBC remains committed to Freddie, Chris and Paddy who have been at the heart of the show’s renaissance since 2019, and we’re excited about new projects being developed with each of them.

“We will have more to say in the near future on this. We know resting the show will be disappointing news for fans, but it is the right thing to do.”

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