I'm reading a book by a Pixar company director. During preliminary test screenings of The Incredibles, the production team were surprised and troubled by the negative audience reaction to Mr Incredible.
They traced the problem to how the character towered over others and particularly his domineering presence over his partner, which made audience members uncomfortable and the character unintentionally unlikable.
Their solutions involved subtly altering scene dynamics, increasing the size and overall presence of Elastigirl, to ensure the pair had parity when they were on screen together.
Whether the Top Gear scenes were heavily scripted or not (and I am sure they were), that's kind of irrelevant. Certain moments provoked similar reactions of unease in audiences - based on what they saw portrayed on screen, without knowledge of the production process. Such reactions are entirely reasonable, natural and avoidable.
I'd agree the problem may be Flintoff doesn't seem to get his comeuppance often enough/at all. This imbalance can be easily addressed in future series.
Otherwise, I found the episodes I watched entertaining. A return to form.
cylon6 and Larry the Loafer gave kudos