So how DID Paddy McGuinness land coveted Radio 2 slot? As former Top Gear presenter prepares for peach BBC broadcast job has loyalty to station after horrific Freddie Flintoff crash finally paid off for the 'broke' comedian

2 weeks ago 9

The shock announcement of Paddy McGuiness' new Radio 2 Sunday morning slot has had some loyal listeners scratching their heads - but comes after the comedian showed extraordinary loyalty to the BBC in the aftermath of Top Gear's disastrous end. 

The popular motoring show has not aired since 2022 following the horror crash involving former England star Freddie Flintoff on the test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

Whilst driving a three-wheeled Morgan Super 3 without a helmet, Flintoff received 'life-altering significant' injuries that kept him out of work leading him to negotiate 'a £9million settlement' with the BBC for two years' loss of earnings. 

Last year, the BBC announced the show would be rested for the 'foreseeable future' and in the years following the crash, neither McGuiness or Flintoff's fellow co-host Chris Harris have spoken to criticise safety arrangements on the show. 

Last week, it was reported that both McGuiness and Harris would reunite for a new motoring series that appears to be Top Gear without Flintoff in all but name - something the BBC has denied.  

Listeners to the station reacted with fury on Tuesday after the BBC revealed Paddy McGuinness , 50, will host a new Sunday show between 11am and 1pm from June amid a major shake up at the station

Freddie Flintoff with Top Gear presenters Paddy McGuinness, left, and Chris Harris, right, in 2019 - three years before the crash

Whilst driving a three-wheeled Morgan Super 3 without a helmet, Flintoff received 'life-altering significant' injuries (Pictured last year)

According to the Sun, the touted 'Chris & Paddy: Roadtrip' series which will see the pair head out for a 'turbo-charged adventure around Europe'. 

He is also lined up to replace Gregg Wallace on documentary series Inside the Factory. 

It's a bumper year for McGuinness who has plans to return to touring a stand-up show after several years off of the circuit because the 'money has run out'. He also split from his wife Christine in July 2022 after 11 years of marriage.

He told This Morning in December: 'Erm, well the money's run out now so it took about eight years to spend it all and I'm like, 'I've got to build it back up'.

'So weirdly, writing a tour does take a lot of your time. When we had the break from Top Gear, I'd been planning it for a long time, I went, 'There's a window there'.' 

Some BBC Radio 2 listeners reacted with fury on Tuesday after the BBC revealed Paddy, 50, will host a new Sunday show between 11am and 1pm from June amid a major shake up at the station.

The Top Gear star first presented on Radio 2 last year when covering the pop quiz Ten To The Top while Vernon Kay was fundraising for Children In Need.

His appointment prompted an outcry, with listeners blasting him as 'irritating' and holding him responsible for the downfall of Question of Sport after he took over Sue Barker as the show's host in 2021.

In the years since the accident, McGuinness has remained steadfastly loyal to the BBC and his new appointment to BBC Radio 2 as well as his new show with Harris should come as a positive following a difficult 2023. 

Last year, it was revealed that four of the star's programmes, Catchpoint, I Can See Your Voice, A Question of Sport and Top Gear would not be returning to screens. 

At the time, a TV insider close to Paddy told the Sun: This will come as a real blow to Paddy, who's made a firm commitment to the Beeb since he quit ITV four years ago.

'Both I Can See Your Voice and Catchpoint saw him retain his place as a star of Saturday night TV, something he forged fronting dating favourite Take Me Out on ITV.

'But these axings mean that's effectively gone, so he's likely to be looking for new projects to fill the void.'

AXED: Paddy McGuinness was brought in to replace Sue Barker on a Question of Sport in 2021, and was joined by two new team captains Ugo Monye and San Quek

AXED: Paddy's singing show I Can See Your Voice was cut by BBC bosses last year

AXED: It was also the end of the road  for Paddy's Catchpoint quiz show 

McGuinness' new show with Harris will be the first time the pair have appeared on screens together since Top Gear

McGuinness' new show with Harris will be the first time the pair have appeared on screens together since Top Gear. 

However despite their on-air banter, Harris had previously confessed the pair are not as close as they appear. 

He told the Sun in 2022: 'I count Paddy and Freddie as friends but I don't want to go to their houses. If I'm driving up north, I don't think I'll pop in and see Paddy for a cup of tea. I'd rather kick a wall with my bare foot.' 

Neither Harris nor McGuinness have ever publicly commented on the details of the stunt that hospitalised Flintoff.

Previously, a source close to Flintoff alleged he had been apprehensive before it was filmed. 

They claimed: 'Freddie voiced his worries about the safety of the stunt on set on the day of the accident. He questioned whether or not it was OK, given the vehicle and conditions on the track.' 

Paddy also told the Sun that he and Flintoff 'weren’t pro drivers' and that there 'were things where we’d be, "Oh hold on a minute, can we get a bit more training on this?" if we were nervous.'

Some BBC Radio 2 listeners have vowed to stop listening to the station after Paddy was announced as the host of a new prime Sunday morning show - amid concerns that he is a 'kiss of death' for programmes on TV and radio.

He will take over Michael Ball's plush 11am slot on Sundays from June with a new show with an as-yet-unspecified format - prompting an outcry from veteran Radio 2 listeners who find him off-putting. 

Reacting to his appointment on social media, many users questioned Paddy's track record with his BBC output, making reference to his failed revamp of a Question of Sport. 

Radio 2 bosses say Paddy made a 'huge impression' with listeners sitting in for Rylan Clark on his Saturday show in recent weeks - but listeners to Britain's most popular radio station fear his presence will further 'decimate' its audience.

Speaking to MailOnline, Jonathan Shalit OBE media expert and Chairman of InterTalent Rights dismissed any notion that the BBC may be rearranging its deckchairs following Top Gear. 

He said:  'The head of Radio 2 makes decisions based in the context of Radio 2, they're not thinking about BBC television - they hire the broadcaster they think is right. 

'He's a top BBC star absolutely, and a quality star at that. 

'They wouldn't be hiring him unless they knew there was a massive audience for him.' 

Recent presenter shake-ups and fall-outs have seen Radio 2 drop almost a million listeners in the last year - most notably the departure of Ken Bruce, and the replacement of Steve Wright with Radio 1's Scott Mills in the weekday afternoon slot.

In addition, a number of shows Paddy has presented have been canned or put in hold including the most recent reboots of Top Gear and A Question of Sport and music challenge I Can See Your Voice.

Some fear his new radio slot could meet the same fate, taking to social media to share their concerns about his appointment.

One listener said on X, formerly Twitter: 'Paddy McGuinness... seriously?? That's another radio 2 programme I'll be switching off.'

Some social media users questioned if McGuinness was the right person for a Question of Sport

Zoe Ball however shared a promotional BBC photo of Paddy which she captioned: 'Welcome. Bolton Massive'

His appointment prompted an outcry, with listeners blasting him as 'irritating' and holding him responsible for the downfall of Question of Sport after he took over Sue Barker as the show's host in 2021 

Another added: 'Paddy McGuinness was so bad covering for Sara Cox that I turned the radio off. Absolutely mad to give him his own show.'

'Paddy McGuinness will now decimate Radio 2,' a third fan warned. 'Sunday was the only day I have continued to listen to it.'

While a fourth listener, claiming they found McGuinness' voice 'self-gratifying', told the BBC via X: 'I can think of no reason to listen to Radio 2 anymore. I'm sick of paying for your 'younger listeners' obsession.'

The BBC declined to comment further when contacted by MailOnline.

Paddy himself said of the news: 'I've loved keeping Rylan's seat warm on Saturday afternoons and returning to the airwaves over Easter. To be given my very own regular show on the legendary Radio 2 is a dream come true.'

He also shared the news on Instagram. However, comments on the post - which are largely positive - have been restricted.

It is not his first stint in radio: as well as sitting in for other permanent BBC presenters on holiday, he presented a Saturday morning show on Bauer network radio stations across the north of England from 2014 until 2017.

Paddy's permanent appointment to a Radio 2 slot comes as part of a wider station shake-up of programming following the untimely death of Steve Wright in February. His cause of death has not been disclosed.

As part of the shake-up, Michael Ball is moving to the legendary 9am Sunday Love Songs show that had been piloted by Wright for almost 30 years until his death.

Ball said he was 'beyond excited and more than a little nervous' to continue Wright's legacy with the heartwarming show, which features listeners' weekly dedications and classic love songs. Nicki Chapman has been filling in since Wright's death.

Radio 2 boss Helen Thomas said of the new appointments: 'I'm looking forward to Michael's new earlier show, where he'll entertain his 'lovelies' as he's always done, and Paddy made a huge impression on our listeners when he sat in for Rylan as well as with his Easter specials.'

Other changes include comedian Romesh Ranganathan launching a new show later this month to run on Saturdays from 10am until 1pm.

Reaction to the new line-up has been mixed - but could spell trouble for the BBC after some of its other recent Radio 2 appointments led to a significant drop in listeners, some of whom have switched to commercial rivals. 

In recent years, veteran presenters such as the late Paul O'Grady, Wright, Simon Mayo and Vanessa Feltz stepped back or were replaced at the station with younger talent such as Rylan Clark, Vernon Kay, comic Rob Beckett and Radio 1's Scott Mills.

Among the most high-profile departures was Ken Bruce, who said he wanted to 'try something else'. But after revealing he would be moving to commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio, his exit from the BBC was expedited.

And since moving to GHR - taking the Popmaster quiz format with him - his listener numbers have grown. Meanwhile Radio 2 has lost almost a million fans following the departure or downgrading of its biggest stars.

But some of Radio 2's stable have insisted that the station's demise is being greatly exaggerated.

Cox said last year: '[In radio] people move on and get replaced. When change happens, it feels really big in the moment and within days, you're like, 'It's fine. It's still Radio 2'.'

The BBC's content boss, Charlotte Moore, has denied claims the station is deliberately forcing out older talent in order to woo younger listeners - instead insisting the station is trying to move with the times.

She told the Broadcasting Press Guild last year: 'I think it's natural evolution. It's natural evolution of the station and of the BBC.

'I don't think we are chasing young. We are absolutely trying to make sure it doesn't get older and older and older and older, and I think that's for the whole of the BBC, of course, otherwise we just won't exist, will we?'

But there are concerns that Paddy McGuinness' attachment to programmes is jinxing their prospects - despite the fanfare that surrounded his move to the BBC in 2018 after years of fronting ITV dating show Take Me Out.

A number of formats fronted by the star - who made his name alongside Peter Kay in Phoenix Nights and Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere - have been consigned to the bin, including Catchpoint and I Can See Your Voice.

A 2021 reboot of A Question of Sport - which saw McGuinness taking on the unenviable task of replacing Sue Barker - was also binned after viewing figures fell from a peak of four million to 800,000.

And the refreshed Top Gear, featuring the comedian alongside motoring journalist Chris Harris and ex-cricketer Freddie Flintoff, is on indefinite hiatus after Flintoff's horrific car accident in a roofless sports car at the end of 2022.

Flintoff is continuing to recover from the accident, which involved a Morgan Three-Wheeler car - but will return to the BBC with a new series of his documentary Field of Dreams after its first run aired to rapturous reviews in 2022.

One social media user said of McGuinness' run of bad luck at the BBC: 'Paddy McGuinness is the kiss of death to any programme. I'm trying to imagine him sitting in the same likability zone as Steve Wright and I just can't.'

Another added: 'Why oh why Paddy McGuinness, that's another turnoff. All shows he's in are cancelled.'

McGuinness also made an appearance on Question Time in February, with some accusing the BBC of 'dumbing down' the topical programme.

However, he is far from the first celebrity guest to appear on the show, with disgraced comic Russell Brand, Love Island star Amy Hart and Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel.

And McGuinness himself said that, as a man from a working class community in Bolton, Lancashire, the opportunity to appear on the show was one he couldn't pass up.

He told Good Morning Britain in February: 'Being working class people look at you as the place you are from, as you still speak like them - if I hadn't have done it then you're not getting people's voice across.'

Social media has been awash with tweets from Radio 2 listeners who feel he is a poor addition to the station's line-up

Paddy McGuinness fronting the reboot of Question of Sport (which dropped the 'A' from the title) in 2021 - it was canned in 2023 after millions switched off

McGuinness alongside motoring journalist Chris Harris and ex-cricketer Freddie Flintoff on Top Gear. The format has been suspended after Flintoff's accident at the end of 2022

McGuinness announced the news on his Instagram (above). Comments have been restricted on the post

Michael Ball (pictured) will present a new Sunday Love Songs show on Radio 2, following the death of Steve Wright earlier this year

Radio 2 fans have previously accused the BBC of ageism as a string of older DJs step back, including Paul O'Grady, Steve Wright, Ken Bruce and Simon Mayo, replaced by ex-Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, RuPaul's Michelle Visage, Rylan and DJ Spoony

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