Home » Top Gear Shot A Whole Thowback Episode With Old Presenters That No One Will Probably Ever See

Top Gear Shot A Whole Thowback Episode With Old Presenters That No One Will Probably Ever See

Top Gear Unaired Episode Ts
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It was a sad day when the BBC finally admitted that Top Gear would be indefinitely suspended from the airwaves. The famous car show was struck by disaster during filming in late 2022, when presenter Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff suffered life-changing injuries in a major crash. That tragedy has led to the end of the show in its current form. According to ex-host Tiff Needell, the next series was set to feature a very special episode with some of its ex-presenters, but that episode has now ended up on the cutting room floor.

The news comes to us from a chat Needell had with Yahoo UK about the show that made him a legend to many in the automotive world. Unlike some automotive journalists, Needell is also a bonafide racing driver, having entered two Formula 1 races in 1980 as a substitute, and making multiple appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He would go on to appear on the original format of Top Gear in 1987, staying a part of the show until it was canceled by the BBC in 2001. Needell and the rest of the cast defected to rival UK TV station Channel 5 to produce Fifth Gear. Famously, the BBC would then go on to relaunch Top Gear in its most beloved form with another ex-host, Jeremy Clarkson, a year later in 2002. Richard Hammond was on board this time, and James May would later complete the power trio that pushed the show to the dizzying heights of worldwide popularity.

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“I actually went back for the next series of Top Gear, an item. It would have been out this spring, the next series,” Needell told Yahoo UK. The segment saw talent from the original years of Top Gear paired with the modern presenting lineup of Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness, and Chris Harris. “They had Angela Rippon for the seventies and Chris Goffey from the eighties and myself representing the nineties,” said Needell. “I was paired with Chris Harris so we had a lot of fun.”

“I thought this is it, I’ll be back in the mainstream telly once this item has been [on],” lamented Needell. “Of course it is on the showroom floor; it’ll never be seen.”

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Sadly, the show will not go on, as Flintoff’s horrific crash in December last year left the BBC unwilling to continue the series. Flintoff was severely injured while driving a Morgan Super 3, with the open-top car flipping and sliding along the track at high speed. In the crash, Flintoff suffered serious facial injuries and multiple broken ribs, with the BBC reaching a £9 million ($11.4 million USD) with the host for the accident. “Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34,” the BBC stated in April this year. “We have sincerely apologized to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery.”

Tiff Needell Vauxhall Cavalier Leads Steve Soper Bmw318i Out Of The Old Hairpin At The 1993 Toca Shootout, Donington (50094301852)
Needell raced in everything from Formula 1 to touring cars, seen here in the 1993 TOCA Shootout. A career highlight was a podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1990, behind the wheel of a Porsche 962C. Credit: Martin Lee, CC BY-SA 2.0

It wasn’t the first accident in Top Gear history, with the show’s hosts suffering in a number of dangerous incidents over the years. In one of the most publicized events, in 2006, Richard Hammond suffered a traumatic brain injury when the jet-powered Vampire Dragster he was driving suffered a tire failure and rolled multiple times. Flintoff himself had also suffered other accidents, albeit far more minor in degree. In February 2019, he hit a market stall during filming, and later that year, he crashed riding an unconventional “head-first” trike at 124 mph. Thankfully, in prior cases, he was not significantly injured and was able to continue filming.

It bears noting that the BBC seemingly did take due precaution over the years, training its presenters and ensuring they secured licenses for racing and for large trucks, alike. Regardless, accidents did happen, and at times with heavy consequences. Needell is somber about the accidents that have marred the show’s otherwise bright history. “They got non-racing drivers to go into racing situations,” said Needell. “Richard Hammond had a few big accidents including that rocket-propelled dragster which I would have refused to do to be honest, because that would have been out of my comfort zone. I would have felt like I wasn’t in control anymore.”

Today, Needell is still active in the car scene. Clips of his old work are all over YouTube, as you might expect, and you’ll see him driving some exotic cars in videos with the Carhuna channel. It’s not Top Gear, nor Fifth Gear, but it’s great to see Needell still doing what he does best–putting fast cars through their paces and telling us all how great they are.

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Fans of Top Gear from before the Three Amigos era will be saddened to hear that Needell’s return to the show will likely never air (maybe they can put it on YouTube?). At the same time, it’s a necessary mark of respect that the series ends for a time, given the severity of the incident that halted production. Enthusiasts will hope to see the famous name return to our screens one day, maybe in a new form that can promise a bright future for that hallowed name. Here’s hoping.

Image credits: Carhuna via YouTube screenshot, Martin Lee CC BY-SA 2.0

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Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
4 months ago

I’ve heard Tiff Needell’s name mentioned by Clarkson/Hammond/May on Top Gear and, for an embarrassingly long time, thought they were referring to a lady named Tiffany Dell.

It was not the first time their British accents had confused me, and it likely won’t be the last.

Chi_spotting
Chi_spotting
4 months ago

I was thinking they would’ve brought back Clarkson alongside Tiff, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I’ll stick with Fifth Gear for my Tiff Needell fix.

Jakob Johansen
Jakob Johansen
4 months ago

Got a thumb drive with all seasons, including specials + DVD releases, plugged into my router.

Once in a while I will just lean back and watch a randon episode on the telly.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
4 months ago

I really miss Top Gear with Hammond, May and Clarkson, realizing of course that many people hate Clarkson. He’s a blowhard, but he’s funny and I’ll put up with almost anything for funny.

The BBC is notoriously cheap with talent, bureaucratic to a silly extent, and nowadays so risk averse that in terms of entertainment programming, it’s a miracle anything not about animals or baking a cake ever gets on the schedule. You will never again see a show like Top Gear or The Office on the Beeb so enjoy the reruns.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
4 months ago

I hope we get to see that material someday, it sounds like a fun idea. Although I would have liked to see Noel Edmonds participate as well, since I wasn’t around for his original run. In terms of style and temperament, he seems like the proto-Clarkson, but whereas Clarkson got handed the keys to the kingdom, Edmonds simply got fired.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago

These days there’s no such thing as a dead entertainment property, especially one with the fanbase of Top Gear. When things go sideways with a series they may temporarily suspend it (see lack of Star Wars movies for the past few years), but, to misquote another series that will never truly die: It’ll be back.

Citrus
Citrus
4 months ago
Reply to  Ben

I mean even Star Wars hasn’t really been suspended, they’ve just focused on different Disney+ series.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

True, I guess I was thinking of the movies that were originally scheduled to be annual and were put on hiatus following very negative reaction to the last couple. Terminator is probably a better example since it seems like someone tries to make a new one every five years, no matter how bad the last one was (I happened to like Dark Fate, but the two previous efforts were middling to bad)

Scott
Scott
4 months ago

Meh.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
4 months ago

 In the crash, Flintoff suffered serious facial injuries and multiple broken ribs, with the BBC reaching a £9 million ($11.4 million USD) with the host for the accident. ‘Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34,’ the BBC stated in April this year.”

I have no proof of this, but “inappropriate to resume making series” sounds like the kind of thing people say when they can no longer get insurance, and are not willing to self insure, but want a classier excuse.

Jmfecon
Jmfecon
4 months ago

Although I like Top Gear with Jeremy, James and Richard, I really enjoyed watching Fifth Gear. Tiff was great host, and it was great to watch him together with Vicky, Jason and that slim-guy-that-looks-way-older-today (with a nice show with barn finds) that I forgot the name. It was a more “traditional” car show, not as entretaining as Top Gear at time, but still fun to watch.

i3 Driving Indicator Fetishist
i3 Driving Indicator Fetishist
4 months ago
Reply to  Jmfecon

Jonny “carpervert” Smith! I too loved that Fifth Gear group.

Citrus
Citrus
4 months ago

It seems possible this could air anyway – suspending production doesn’t necessarily mean never airing anything again, remember that after they sacked Clarkson there was that really awkward episode where they put out some of the content that was already filmed and edited but not aired.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I could see them putting on the shelf until a respectful amount of time passes (however they decide to determine that) and then air it as a special – maybe around Christmas 2024 or something

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