Top Gear has proved to be one of the BBC's most popular TV shows ever, bringing in millions of viewers and huge profits in recent years.
Presenter Jeremy Clarkson has been key to its success, but a “fracas” with a producer at the organisation has put his position on the line. The BBC announced this afternoon that he had been suspended after overstepping the mark one too many times.
“Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday,” it said in a statement. “The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.”
Clarkson's series of controversial remarks culminated in him being given a “final warning” last May, when he used a racist word during filming of the show. He was told he would be sacked if he made “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time”.
But the BBC is set to lose a lot if Clarkson and his hugely popular show cease to be theirs, and here are some of the main reasons why.
Top Gear and Clarkson – this is what the BBC would lose
A huge money spinner: Top Gear generates enormous profits for BBC Worldwide, at an estimated £20m each year. In 2009, one of its best years, it brought in a revenue of £147.3m, which was higher than any other show. Since then, it has consistently appeared among the most successful shows broadcast by BBC.
A world record for viewers: BBC is well known for its documentaries, but no factual programme has ever managed to reach the viewership of Top Gear. With an estimated 350m people tuning into the show every week, it won the Guinness World Record for most-watched factual TV show of all time.
A programme watched all over the world: Top Gear has dedicated followers in 214 countries worldwide, spanning all the continents.
A social following most shows could only dream of: 1.74m people follow Top Gear on Twitter, which is over half a million more than the number of people following Doctor Who (another hugely successful BBC show). Three million are subscribed to the Top Gear YouTube channel and 15m are fans on Facebook.
A magazine that isn't dying with the rise of the internet: Top Gear magazine is still going strong with a global circulation of 1.67m people.
Extremely popular DVDs and live shows: Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip was named UK’s best-selling DVD in 2013, and the Top Gear live shows attract an average of 1.5m attendees.
A dominant force on BBC iPlayer: An Africa special of the show was requested 3.4m times on the BBC's on-demand service in 2013, making it the most popular iPlayer programme of the year. In fact, out of the 20 most-accessed TV and radio programmes in 2013, 10 belonged to BBC 2's Top Gear.