Belfast Telegraph

So no women on Top Gear then: BBC Radio Ulster presenter reacts to new line-up - Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff replace Matt LeBlanc

 

The BBC Good Morning Ulster presenter Declan Harvey has highlighted how the BBC's new line-up for the main Top Gear programme does not feature any women.

On Monday morning the broadcaster confirmed presenter Paddy McGuinness and former cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff will host Top Gear from next year.

Moments after it was confirmed - and just before reading it as a headline on BBC Radio Ulster flagship morning show - presenter Declan Harvey, who watches the show, tweeted: "No women then."

The German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, who has been a presenter on the show since 2016, will host Top Gear’s spin off show, Extra Gear along with Rory Reid.

"She will be reassured by that," Mr Harvey told listeners.

Later in the programme the show did debate the new line-up with television commentator Mike Ward in which the lack of female representation on the new line-up was raised.

"This is the other controversial thing," he said.

"Obviously we talked about this when it was up in the air a year or so ago and people said maybe now was the time... but again you don't want to labour that point because a there is a lot of effort being done in getting the balance right and quite right too, but you don't want to shovel on every single format for the sake of it because that becomes tokenism and patronising."

Responding one Twitter user said it made up for the absence of male presenters on Loose Women. However Mr Harvey pointed out "technically" that was not the case as men had presented the ITV show in the past.

Take Me Out host McGuinness and the former cricketer Flintoff will take the steering wheel from Matt LeBlanc, who earlier this year announced he was leaving the motoring show after four series.

McGuinness and Flintoff will join motoring journalist and racing driver Chris Harris in the main presenting line-up.

Patrick Holland, controller of BBC Two, said: “This is a thrilling manoeuvre from the Top Gear team and I’m relishing what this trio will deliver.

“Both Paddy and Freddie love their cars but, more than that, they’ll bring a new energy and competitive spirit to Top Gear.

“Chris Harris might have the greater car skills, but when it comes to the infamous Top Gear challenges, he’s going to have to bring his A-game to have the beating of these two.”

McGuinness said the Top Gear role is a “real honour and I’m thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity”.

He added: “To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting. Top Gear fans worldwide are a passionate bunch and I consider myself one of them.

“Now let’s start up this Great British machine and see what it can do!”

Flintoff said: “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.”

Harris, who has been a lead host on Top Gear since 2017, said of his new co-stars: “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.”

Friends star LeBlanc joined Top Gear in 2016, but announced his departure from the show earlier this year because of the demands of the role, and how much it keeps him away from his family and friends.

The American actor was a surprise addition to the Top Gear presenting line-up along with Chris Evans two years ago, following the departure of previous hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

He then continued hosting the show after Evans threw in the towel after just one series.

LeBlanc’s final series as lead host will air in early 2019.

McGuinness and Flintoff will start filming their first series with Harris in early 2019, and it will debut later in the year.

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