HAS the unthinkable happened?

Have Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May actually grown up a bit?

The enfants terrible of the Beeb, who appear to be founder members of the Undiplomatic Corps, returned with a new series of Top Gear on Sunday night.

But has someone from ‘on high’ had a quiet word?

Or have the highly-paid trio finally realised that they can’t play at being teenage boys into middle age?

For instead of the juvenile pranks and the clever, clever remarks they almost served up an old-fashioned Top Gear — and the programme was better for it.

Sure they did all have ridiculously expensive toys to play with, driving three supercars around Italy.

But the whole tenor of the show appears to have changed.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved many of the earlier shows as they transformed the humble motoring programme into mass entertainment.

But last series, and that weary Christmas special to India in particular, it did appear as though even they had begun to despair at being asked to be outrageous for the sake of it and the show was becoming a parody of itself.

Let’s just hope this week’s first episode set the standards for what is to come.

No-one wants to snuff out the sparks of genius of which used to set Top Gear apart, it’s just we appreciate TV that doesn’t pander to the mentality of a 13-year-old.