Andrew Flintoff has to recover before Top Gear filming continues, BBC boss says

A BBC executive has said returning to filming Top Gear would be “really inappropriate” as Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff continues to recover from his accident.

The 45-year-old presenter was involved in incident at the Top Gear test track last year in December while filming the motoring TV programme at Dunsfold Aerodrome.

In March, the corporation announced that “under the circumstances” they feel “it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time” following an internal investigation into the accident.

Broadcasting Press Guild Awards – London
Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC (Ian West/PA)

Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) event on Thursday, chief content officer at the BBC, Charlotte Moore, was asked if the corporation is committed to Top Gear returning.

Ms Moore said: “My priority at the moment is supporting Freddie through his recovery so I think it would be really inappropriate for us to resume filming now.

“I think when we get to the point where he feels ready … and we’ll get to thinking about getting him back.”

She added: “I think we’ve got to talk about what Freddie wants to do. When someone’s in recovery, I don’t think we would push that … I think that would be really inappropriate, I wouldn’t be happy.

“I think you’ve got to be really human about this and do the right thing.”

A statement from the BBC earlier this year said that there will be a health and safety review of the show, “in line with our procedures” following the accident involving the former cricketer on December 13.

The PA news agency understands that a decision about resuming filming will be made later in the year.

Ms Moore was also asked about whether Richard Sharp will continue as chairman of the BBC and replied: “So Richard … continues to be chairman of the board and he’s doing a really good job, business as usual. He’s really supportive of what we’re doing.”

BBC chairman post
BBC chairman Richard Sharp (DCMS/PA)

Mr Sharp is facing pressure to resign amid an ongoing review after it emerged he helped former prime minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan facility.

On whether the BBC chairman should not be directly chosen by the Prime Minister, Ms Moore said the decision was “for the Government”.

She added: “I think there’s lots of arguments that you could argue on all sides about that (and) what is the best, and I’m sure it will be debated in the future.”

An investigation is being launched into the circumstances surrounding Mr Sharp’s appointment, which was already controversial following donations he had previously made to the Conservative Party.

The chairman can only be removed from the post by the Government – not the BBC – and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly refused to defend the former Goldman Sachs banker, citing the ongoing investigation.

Elsewhere, Ms Moore said an independent review of the BBC’s social media guidance for freelancers has to be “proportionate” following an impartiality row in which Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker was temporarily taken off-air.

The review was launched after the former England footballer’s use of social media in March led to his suspension and staff walked out from other programmes that caused a reduction in BBC Sport output.

Ms Moore added: “It was fascinating, actually… how much this sort of got everybody thinking about both the importance of impartiality, how that cannot be pitted against freedom of expression, those two things are absolutely the cornerstone of the BBC Charter.

“I think it revealed that this is a topic that everybody, across all media, (and in the UK and elsewhere is involved and) this is a really timely, relevant subject, because social media, and people’s use of social media, is changing and so we’ve all got to adapt with it.”

Lineker had posted a tweet in which he said the language used by the Government to promote its asylum plans was not dissimilar to 1930s Germany.