Top Gear will remain off air until a further Health and Safety inquiry into the show concludes, following Freddie Flintoff’s high-speed crash, insiders said.
The BBC called a halt to production after the Dunsfold Park aerodrome accident in December which left presenter Flintoff with facial injuries and broken ribs.
Flintoff has reportedly decided to leave the show after the accident which occurred when his open-topped three-wheel Morgan Super 3 car is said to have flipped and slid along the track when he was driving at high speed.
The Health and Safety Executive found no evidence of serious failings requiring a formal investigation after receiving the results of a BBC Studios investigation into the accident.
However a further health and safety review into procedures more widely on Top Gear is being conducted for BBC Studios by an independent third party.
Top Gear will not resume production until the BBC sees the results and considers any recommendations, i understands.
This week it emerged that Clare Pizey, Top Gear’s editorial director, is leaving after seven years with the series, fuelling uncertainty over its future.
There are fears that more members of the Top Gear creative team could leave if the hiatus is extended.
“There is an expert production team in Bristol twiddling their thumbs. They will go elsewhere if they can’t make the show,” one insider said.
A “core team” is working on background preparation for a production resumption, i understands, with some members seconded on to other projects.
Top Gear may have less focus on “daredevil stunts” when it resumes. Insiders said it had already swapped exotic foreign shoots for locations around the British Isles, partly to meet concerns over environmental sustainability.
A BBC source said: “A decision on the timing of future shows will be made in conjunction with BBC Content in due course.”
Top Gear, once the BBC’s biggest moneyspinner, netting £50m a year when Jeremy Clarkson fronted the show, is still a highly lucrative brand for the Studios commercial wing.
Finland is the latest territory to remake the format following adaptations in South Korea, France and North America.