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Paddy McGuinness: There was a lot of negativity around Top Gear

Paddy McGuinness, Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff and Chris Harris in Nepal (BBC Studios/Lee Brimble/PA)
Paddy McGuinness, Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff and Chris Harris in Nepal (BBC Studios/Lee Brimble/PA)

Paddy McGuinness has said he knew viewers wanted Top Gear to survive – despite there being a lot of “negativity” around the show.

The comedian and his co-star Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff made their debut on BBC Two’s motoring series earlier this year, alongside returning presenter Chris Harris.

They managed to reverse Top Gear’s declining viewing figures since the departure of long-standing presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Former Top Gear presenters James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson
Former Top Gear presenters James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson (Brian Lawless/PA)

And the new trio scored the highest viewing figures for a Top Gear launch episode since Chris Evans’s first appearance in 2016.

Take Me Out star McGuinness said he had always believed viewers did not want the show to fail.

Asked about the positive reaction to their first series together, McGuinness said: “It was lovely. I just got some things sent to me last night on email about how it had done.

“I wasn’t sure of the exact figures or worldwide – how it had done and everything else.

“It’s lovely that it is back up there and people are enjoying it because even back in the days where it had its… There was a lot of negativity around it.”

Harris, who was part of the previous presenting team, asked: “What are you saying?”

Paddy McGuinness and Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff in Nepal (BBC Studios/Lee Brimble/PA)

McGuinness replied: “I know. Unfortunately, you are still here.”

He continued: “But I feel as though people love that show, Top Gear, and I don’t think they wanted it to fail.

“Before we used to go on, I used to say, people want it to be back to where it was. They don’t want it off air.

“We just give it our best shot and that’s all we can do really. Even that – it could have gone either way.

“So I was really pleased. Especially the difference in the US. It has gone back up there. It’s lovely to be a part of.”

The presenting trio visited Nepal to shoot their 2019 Christmas special, navigating perilous mountain roads in city cars.

The episode will air on BBC Two on December 29.

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