Top Gear

New season of Top Gear starts in August

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Everyone remembers their first car, no matter how rubbish. The freedom. The independence. The terrible brakes. The terrible smells. Keen to delve into our new presenting team’s motoring history, the producers told Paddy, Freddie and Chris to each go out and buy a fine example of their own first car, for just a couple of thousand pounds. And, if a fine example of their first car didn’t exist for just a couple of thousand pounds, at least an example that worked a bit.

ALSO READ: Top Gear sets a new Guinness World Records title for fastest tractor

Purchases secured, the presenters were told to report for testing in… Ethiopia. Naturally. The birthplace of humankind. A land of vast mountains, jaw-dropping world heritage sites, and the Danakil Depression, the hottest year-round place on Earth. Obviously the presenters were ordered to drive to the latter.

Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia’s lowest altitude is in the Afar Depression, at 410 feet below sea level – 128 feet lower than California’s Death Valley. It’s here that some palaeontologists believe human civilization began, and an extensive fossil record documents early life.
  • Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression is one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on the planet

POWERTEST: FERRARI 488 PISTA vs McLAREN 600LT

If you want to go fast, a regular supercar is all well and good. But if you want to go really, really fast, you want a track-day supercar. Faster, sharper, punchier. Sort of the… special forces of the supercar world. But which is the best track-day supercar you can buy?

To find out, Chris Harris took to the Top Gear test track in two of the latest contenders: the Ferrari 488 Pista, and McLaren 600LT. A pair of cars with a combined cost of nearly half a million pounds, and well over a thousand horsepower between them. Safe to say, that test kept Europe’s tyre manufacturers in business for another few years.

Did you know?

Ferrari vs. McLaren

  • The Ferrari 488 Pista is powered by Ferrari’s most powerful V8 engine.

About the presenters

FREDDIE FLINTOFF

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is a presenter, broadcaster and cricketing legend.

Freddie made his first class debut for Lancashire in 1995, and international honours came when he made his Test Match debut in 1998 vs South Africa. Freddie made his biggest impact for England in the summer of 2005, when he played a major role in regaining the Ashes from Australia. His contributions won him the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in the same year. In 2006 Freddie was awarded an MBE, yet in September 2010, as one of the biggest players in the game, Flintoff retired from professional cricket due to a recurring knee injury.

Since his retirement, Freddie has developed a strong broadcast career. In March 2010, Flintoff became a Team Captain, along with Jamie Redknapp, on the Sky One sports panel show A League of Their Own. The Bafta-winning show has been a huge success and is now about to film its thirteenth series.

2012 also saw the BBC documentary The Hidden Side of Sport, which took an insightful look at depression in the world of sport. Freddie met with some high profile figures for the documentary including Piers Morgan, Vinnie Jones and Ricky Hatton. In the same year, Freddie embarked on one of his greatest challenges to date; training to become a professional heavyweight boxer. This was broadcast in a documentary for Sky One; Flintoff: From Lord’s To The Ring. The culmination of this was a victory on his debut fight at The MEN Arena, Manchester, where he defeated his American opponent.

After a chronic knee injury seemingly ended his cricket career in 2010, it was announced that Freddie would play for Lancashire again in the NatWest T20 blast squad in May 2014. Following on from his stint with Lancashire in 2014 Freddie continued his professional cricket comeback in the Australian T20 Big Bash league in December 2014 & January 2015. As well as playing in the tournament Freddie joined Channel TEN’s prestigious commentary team and made quite an impression with his on field commentary.

In March 2015 Freddie was crowned the King of the Jungle in the first series of the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, and later that year fronted a new six part series for the BBC, Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week. Bowled over by the support of the Australian public, Freddie returned to Australia in November 2015 until early 2016 to reprise his role with Channel Ten on The Project twice weekly and to also join the commentary team on the Big Bash League.

In early 2016, Flintoff was elected the new PCA President of the Professional Cricketers’ Association at the PCA’s annual general meeting held in Birmingham. Freddie joined a very exclusive club as he succeeded his fellow Lancastrian David Lloyd in becoming the seventh President in the association’s history.

In September 2017, Flintoff was the main presenter for Cannonball on ITV with Frankie Bridge, RadziChinyanganya, Ryan Hand and Maya Jama as poolside reporters. In December of that year, Flintoff hosted a new ITV primetime show which aired on Christmas Eve All Star Musicals.

2017 also saw Freddie try his hand in the acting and musical worlds. Flintoff made his acting debut in one episode of the BBC drama Kay Mellor’s Love, Lies & Records. He also made his stage debut in Kay Mellor’s musical Fat Friends, touring around the UK in 2018 playing the character Kevin alongside Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey.

Since then, Freddie took up the role of host for Sky One’s Carnage. The high-octane show saw teams of creative engineers, mechanics and drivers from throughout the UK and Ireland transform regular cars into weaponised battle-ready vehicles. Moving back to the world of cricket, Freddie sang ‘on top of the world’ in this new video for the International Cricket Council (ICC) ahead of the cricket World Cup in 2019.

PADDY MCGUINNESS

Paddy has become a well-loved and established feature of the annual TV calendar. Today he is perhaps best known for his massively popular ITV dating show Take Me Out.

Paddy’s first outing was in a series of six one off episodes in Channel 4′s The Comedy Lab which aired in 1998. He appeared alongside Peter Kay. In 2000 he got the part as Paddy the doorman in That Peter Kay Thing. This led to the massive spin off series Phoenix Nights. Paddy then went on to co-write (with Peter Kay) the eagerly anticipated spin off to Phoenix Nights: Max and Paddy – The Road To Nowhere.

This led Paddy to embark on his first ever solo stand-up tour, The Dark Side. Paddy performed 108 dates, entertaining audiences across the UK with his sell out shows in 2005/6. The DVD Paddy McGuinness: Live was the bestselling comedy stand-up DVD at the time. A number of tours followed this in 2008, an arena tour in 2011 and most recently his 50 date UK tour 2015/16 Daddy McGuinness, which saw him receive a host of rave reviews.

Paddy is well known for his contributions to popular TV shows including This Morning, 71 Degrees North, Mad Mad World, Your Face Sounds Familiar, Stars In Their Cars and Coronation Street.

Most recently Paddy teamed up with Leigh Francis, producing two series of the much loved movie parody series The Keith and Paddy Picture Show.

Venturing over to the BBC, last year, Paddy hosted Even Better Than the Real Thing, a head to head format featuring some of the world’s best tribute acts to see who would be crowned Even Better Than the Real Thing.

Last year Paddy hosted Sport Relief alongside Claudia Winkleman and this year launched a new gameshow (Catchpoint).

Paddy has regularly taken part in Soccer Aid for UNICEF and, alongside his wife, Christine, has been working closely with the National Autistic Society, most recently raising £200,000 from their annual Twinkle Ball which is organised and curated by the couple.

CHRIS HARRIS

Chris Harris joined the Top Gear presenting line-up in 2016 for Series 23.

He brings the finest motoring expertise (and an occasional woolly jumper) to Top Gear, thanks to an extensive history as a car journalist and racing driver. If you’ve picked up a car magazine or clicked around an automotive website in the past decade and a half, chances are you’ve seen a fun-size man with outsize driving talent, powersliding the very best cars the world has to offer.

He is probably best known for his popular YouTube channel, Chris Harris on Cars which he launched in 2014, and established with the help of long-time friend Neil Carey, the channel now has over 426k subscribers. Chris currently presents the online car review series Chris Harris Drives for topgear.com.

With hundreds of thousands of online followers, Harris is the go-to for brutally honest, no-holds-barred automotive journalism. And that’s backed up by the fact that he’s actually pretty handy behind the wheel – his experience (and talent) in single-seater, historic and endurance racing means that it takes a very special car to earn the Harris stamp of approval.

That said, a laundry list of cars have vied for it – from brutally quick road cars like the Ferrari F12 tdf and Bugatti Chiron to impossibly exclusive track weapons like the Aston Martin Vulcan and Ferrari FXX-K. And pretty much everything else with a steering wheel.

Over the years, Harris has put his money where his mouth is (not literally; that’d just be strange) and bought modern classics like the Lamborghini Gallardo and Ferrari 599. But the car closest to his heart? That’d probably be either his customised ’72 Porsche 911, nicknamed Kermit or his 1957 Citroen 2CV.

Image Courtesy: Supplied 

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