British comedian Paddy McGuinness and former England cricketer and TV presenter Freddie Flintoff have joined the new-look hosting lineup for BBC2′s latest season of its global automotive entertainment series Top Gear.
McGuinness and Flintoff will sit alongside motoring journalist and racing driver Chris Harris as hosts, with production on Season 27 slated to begin in early 2019 and their inaugural series premiering later in the year.
“This is a thrilling maneuver from the Top Gear team, and I’m relishing what this trio will deliver,” said BBC2 controller Patrick Holland in a statement. “Both Paddy and Freddie love their cars, but more than that, they’ll bring a new energy and competitive spirit to Top Gear.”
In addition to McGuinness and Flintoff joining the Top Gear cast, Rory Reid, who has served as co-presenter since Season 23, will step down from the main presenting lineup but will remain part of the Top Gear family, along with German professional motor racing driver Sabine Schmitz. He will continue to be the face of Top Gear‘s companion Extra Gear and will be at the heart of what will become a bigger digital presence for the show.
The duo will replace Matt Leblanc (pictured), who departed the series earlier this year after joining Top Gear as a co-host in 2016 alongside BBC Radio presenter Chris Evans. After a successful run, LeBlanc inked a two-season deal to host the reboot with Evans, who later stepped down from his role amid flagging viewership.
LeBlanc, Evans and a host of other Top Gear presenters replaced the popular crew of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May who left the pubcaster for Amazon’s own motor-themed show, The Grand Tour.
Season 26 of Top Gear, LeBlanc’s last as lead host, will debut early in 2019 on BBC2, before McGuinness, Flintoff and Harris premiere Season 27 later in the year.
BBC Studios manages the Top Gear brand globally, which airs in more than 200 territories around the world.
Elsewhere, the British pubcaster will document the seasons of the Mountains of Mourne, a granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland, when it launches The Chronicles of Mourne next week.
Premiering Oct. 29 on BBC1 Northern Ireland, the four-part series, which was filmed over a year, charts a season in each episode, beginning with summer, while journeying through the scenery of the Mournes to meet the people who live, work and play there.
Narrated by The Fall actor Colin Morgan, the Waddell Media-produced series utilizes aerial shots and time-lapse photography to capture the beauty of the landscape and the people who have developed a special relationship with the area.
The Chronicles of Mourne debuts Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. GMT on BBC1 Northern Ireland.