Top Gear Ends on a High

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Before this season of Top Gear began we were teased into thinking it would be losing its elaborate edge. It was difficult to believe, considering they've been saying that for years--and never acted on it. Turns out it wasn't true this time either. In fact, everything we love about the motoring show remained, and in parts it's even improved.

It's not easy for a show to last for fifteen seasons and still be entertaining, but Top Gear has managed it. The latest season, which ends this Sunday on BBC Two at 9:30pm, has provided the same levels of tantalising banter and ridiculous assignments that we've come to expect (and love) from the series. Admittedly, some of the tasked scenes were over-acted and obviously staged, as they have been before. Richard Hammond's man-made "motor home" setting alight and then harbouring lost sheep was definitely a season low point.

When the presenters showed true emotion was when this season really hit its stride; Jeremy Clarkson's touching tribute to the late racing driver Ayrton Senna was a particular highlight. His and Lewis Hamilton's seemingly genuine interactions really gave the show credibility, which it's lost in recent years thanks to unrealistic test drives and Clarkson's offending mouth. Unfortunately, this episode did let itself down by not explaining the exact circumstances around Senna's death. Viewers unfamiliar with the history of F1 (and there are plenty of them) had to rely on search engines for that.

This series concludes with a road trip across Britain, with the presenters in a range of British sports cars. Their aim? To chart the decline of the country's sports-car industry. The reality is more likely to be a documented journey of teasing, laughing and moaning. But that's why the show's proved so popular as an entertainment show, rather than a factual one. Facts are almost always overshadowed by jest or celebrity guests. The Fly's Jeff Goldblum takes to the tracks as a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car this week. He'll add his speed to the steady stream of celebrities adding their name on the Top Gear board, including the recent lap times from Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. Not bad for a car show, eh?

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