Some fans of the series have long suspected that the antics of Clarkson, Hammond and May would come to an end in the not too distant future, with more recent episodes leaving the distinct impression that the producers are running out of ideas, having already done everything that it is possible to do in a car.
Even the show's eldest presenter, James May, told The Express why he thought the curtain must eventually come down, way back in 2012:
"We will have to have the courage to know when to leave," he said. "We're at a party. I don't want to be trying to play the piano on my own, drunk, with all the chairs up, the lights on and the hosts standing there in their dressing gowns."
However, it seems that there could be life in the old dog (the show, not Clarkson) yet, with Jezza himself tweeting his surprise at the fact that the latest series earned the franchise its highest viewing ratings for many years.
Holy Moly. Just seen the audience numbers for last night's show. Peaked at 6.5m. Not bad for a BBC2 show, on its 21st series.
- Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 17, 2014
More news. This has been our highest rated series for many years. Going well abroad too. Looks like there's life in the old dog yet.- Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 17, 2014
Demand from abroad is likely to be one of the key reasons for the shows continuation. The format has been copied by numerous different countries and repeat airings on foreign TV networks and even the BBC's own iPlayer application, have cemented Top Gear's position as one of the most popular shows ever.
With repeats and iPlayer viewings, we've done over 10m a week in the UK alone. Still the most watched factual show....in the world.- Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 17, 2014
Quite how the BBC plans to keep Top Gear fresh remains to be seen, but in the face of this demand from around the world – and the associated huge revenue stream – it looks like the show is going to be with us for quite a while yet.
How could new life be breathed into the Top Gear franchise? Should there be more of a focus on real-world car tests and consumer advice? Have your say below.