Review: Preston's Freddie Flintoff is on to a winner with his new BBC show turning lads into lions

A new coach and captain – and ‘Bazball’ – has revitalised a moribund England men’s cricket team, but on the evidence of his new series, Andrew Flintoff might have given himself a harder task.

By Philip Cunnington
Friday, 8th July 2022, 5:00 pm

Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams (BBC1, Tues, 8pm) followed the Preston-born cricket hero as he attempted to show his beloved sport could be accessible to all.

With almost half the England men’s cricket team being privately educated, Flintoff – who learned his game at Preston’s Ribbleton Hall High School – wanted to pass on his love for the sport.

Not put off by the dismissive attitude of his pal Nigel, who runs a boxing gym for youngsters in Manchester’s Moss Side – or the blank faces of the kids when asked if they know who Flintoff is – Freddie heads for Preston’s Broadfield Estate, where he tries to cajole a load of youngsters put put down their phones, take off their Puffa jackets and pick up a bat.

Andrew Flintoff shares a joke with his new team

A lot of his recruits have trouble at school, like 15-year-old Sean, who likes nothing better than hanging out on Moor Park chugging vodka.

But by the end of the first episode, they are starting to enjoy themselves, and seem to have bonded as a team.

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What really shines through is Flintoff’s passion for the game which made him, and the honest desire to pass on that passion and do something with his renown, his knowledge and his obvious pride in his home city.

Cricket hero Andrew Flintoff passes on his passion for the sport to Preston lad Ethan, in his new series Field of Dreams

“I’ve only seen cricket from one angle,” he says, “I’d do anything to win, but with this, I might have to adjust what I think a win is.”

On the basis of this show, he’s on to a winner already.

In the late 90s, I was working on the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, and a picture of Rikki Neave – the six-year-old whose body was found in woodland bordering a city sink estate – often appeared in its pages. 24 Hours in Police Custody (C4, Mon/Tues, 9pm) followed a new inquiry into the case, and was an absorbing watch.

The Boys (Amazon Prime, new episodes Friday) continues to appall and amuse in equal measure. An ultraviolent tale of renegade supes hides a biting satire of modern society and its one of the best things on TV at the moment. Not sure how much further they can go in terms of body horror though.