Top Gear: former presenter Steve Berry opens up about his accident on show for first time following axe

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A former Top Gear presenter has opened up about his own Freddie Flintoff-eqsue accident on show for the first time following the BBC’s shows indefinite axe.

Steve Berry, who presentented the show for six years from 1993 to 1999, has told TalkTV about the harrowing details of his own crash – revealing that he had to break out of an upturned Lotus Europa after a stunt went wrong.

The 59-year-old made the revelation on Talk Today yesterday (Wednesday, October 22), a day after it was announced that Top Gear will not return for the “foreseeable future” after Preston star Freddie’s accident on set.

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Asked by hosts Jeremy Kyle and Blackpool’s Nicola Thorp about whether he thought there was more pressure to make challenges more extreme to compete with streamers like Amazon, which in turn could lead to more accidents, Berry said: “Not particularly increasing the number of accidents… When you talk about those tragedies, I was very nearly one of them. I put a Lotus Europa in a ditch upside down and it started to sink into the ditch which was full of water. Fortunately I managed to kick my way out of the windscreen and burrow my way out of the car, that never made it to the press.

“Health and safety came in, I went from being a presenter to a director and all of a sudden in the 2000s, health and safety people appeared which was great because sometimes, as a programme maker, you get all excited about what you’re doing and you think, ‘Let’s top what we did last time. Let's make it bigger, more exciting, more spectacular’ and fortunately there started to be people who would say, ‘Hang on a second, what if everybody gets horribly killed?’ Health and safety has saved a lot of people from serious injury.”

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Berry also compared Top Gear’s newly announced hiatus to Doctor Who coming off air in 1989 and returning more successful than ever in 2005.

He said: “There’s one easy way to freak out a millennial. Actually there are lots of ways to freak out a millennial but one of the best ones is to tell them that Doctor Who went missing for 16 years. They have to rush to their phones immediately to confirm that that actually happened. The older ones among us know well that it happened. My mate bought a Dalek off the BBC, a real one, which is now worth a fortune because they thought they’d never need them again. It was done and finished. Sylvester McCoy killed it off, consigned to history. Top Gear will be back for the same reason that Doctor Who came back. Money.

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Main image: Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff (credit BBC). Inset: Steve Berry (credit Talk TV)Main image: Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff (credit BBC). Inset: Steve Berry (credit Talk TV)
Main image: Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff (credit BBC). Inset: Steve Berry (credit Talk TV)

“They’ll rest it for four or five years until people forget the unpleasantness and then it will be brought back in a new format, as James May himself has said today. A new format in a few years time when everyone’s forgotten the nastiness.”

Berry also praised Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond’s tenure on the show, adding “Those guys epitomised the best programme making of the early 2000s, but television’s moved on, they’ve moved on.”

You can watch Talk Today, Monday to Friday from 6am - 9:30am, on Freeview 237, Sky 522 and Virgin Media 606.

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