Top Gear: Ethiopia episode highlight of the series

25 Jun 2019

On Sunday 16th June 2.5 million viewers tuned in for the series premiere of Top Gear, filmed on location in Ethiopia.

In their first adventure together, presenters Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness head to Ethiopia, where they drive through stunning landscapes of northern Ethiopia to reach the Afar Triangle – the hottest place on earth!

Ethiopian Airlines flew the whole team out to Gondar in April. After flying into Addis Ababa and connecting on to Gondar with Ethiopian Airlines, the Top Gear team set out to travel a staggering 500kms across some of Ethiopia’s most spectacular scenery. Starting in Gondar, their journey took them through the stunning Simien Mountains and across desert plains to the finishing point at the Danakil Depression, the hottest and most inhospitable place on earth.

Top Gear Executive Producers and new presenters Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff revealed that filming in Ethiopia was the “highlight” of making the latest series. The presenters were blown away by the “beautiful country” which provided a stunning backdrop for filming the team who were driving cars like the ones they first owned.

In an interview, Paddy McGuinness described Ethiopia’s scenery as “unbelievable” and went on to say, “The roads are a pleasure to drive on, the views are beautiful, and the locals are fantastic. It’s a stunning country.”

Fellow new presenter Freddie Flintoff was equally impressed saying:

“We went to Ethiopia, and that was amazing…I’ve been to quite a lot of parts of Africa, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful Ethiopia is. Unbelievable place. It’s absolutely stunning. The great thing about it is that driving through, it just gets better and better. For me, that’s one of the great things about the show.”

Executive Producer Alex Renton described filming in Ethiopia as a “big highlight” for him.

“There are loads of standout moments in this new series which is filled with challenges and laughter, but I would have to say that Ethiopia was a big highlight for me. Having worked on the show for the last 14 years, I am lucky to say that I have seen much of the world and Ethiopia was a true eye-opener.”

Clare Pizey, another Executive Producer for the show said, “Ethiopia was a standout film this season.”

Famed for crazy stunts and competition among presenters, the producers asked Ethiopian Airlines to arrange the temporary closure of Shire Airport in the Tigray region to shoot a stunt, which saw the presenters drive their cars blindfolded down the runway. Ethiopian Airlines UK Country Manager, Michael Yohannes said, “It was a pleasure to work with the BBC Top Gear team and I am delighted that they chose Ethiopia as a place to shoot their first film of the new series. We knew the team would love Ethiopia. It has historic natural wonders and very hospitable people. The mountains and huge vistas provide the perfect scenery for the show.”

This is the second BBC programme to showcase the wonders of Ethiopia in the last month, after The Travel Show produced two special programmes following Tony Giles, an independent blind backpacker, as he explores the length of the country.

Titled Seeing World Without Sight, Tony starts his journey in Ethiopia’s modern, vibrant capital Addis Ababa. On his quest to take in the sounds and smells and feel of the city, he explores one of Africa’s biggest markets and tastes Ethiopian food prepared by his local host. Jumping inside an iconic blue Addis taxi, he then heads to a gallery which exhibits art for the visually impaired before ending his day enjoying traditional Ethiopian music and dance.

In the second part of the programme, Tony visits Ethiopia’s world-famous rock-hewn underground churches of Lalibela and gets the chance to take part in a colourful and moving Orthodox lent service.

Ethiopia’s tourism and travel sector is on the rise. The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual review in 2018 saw Ethiopia gain the highest tourism growth in the world (48.6%), over ten times the global growth rate of 3.9%. Its excellent air connectivity and wealth of cultural and historical tourist attractions is said to be driving this upward momentum.

UK residents can watch the Ethiopia episode of Top Gear via BBC iPlayer at

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