Wednesday 20 September 2017

Stigy end for 'Top Gear' as driver outed

Top Gear's The Stig. Photo PA
Top Gear's The Stig. Photo PA
Ben Collins pictured outside the High Court in London yesterday

PAUL BERBERY

THE identity of 'The Stig', the mystery test car driver on the popular BBC TV motoring show 'Top Gear', was revealed yesterday after the broadcaster lost a legal battle to keep his name secret.

Ben Collins, who began his racing career in 1994 and drove at Formula 3 level, was named as 'The Stig' after London's High Court refused to grant a temporary injunction preventing the revelation of his identity in an upcoming book.

Each episode of the show sees 'The Stig' whizzing around tracks in powerful cars, wearing a white jumpsuit with his features hidden by a white crash helmet with a dark visor.

The BBC had taken legal action to block publication by publisher Harper Collins of an autobiography by Collins in which he said he was the test driver.

The broadcaster claimed 'The Stig' was bound by a confidentiality agreement and that revealing who he was would spoil viewers' enjoyment.

But after more than a day of legal submissions in private, lawyers for Harper Collins said the case had concluded in their favour.

However, on the show's website last week, 'Top Gear' executive producer Andy Wilman attacked the book's publishers for trying to "cash in" on the well-kept secret.

"Harper Collins have decided none of that is as important as their profits, so if you get your Christmas ruined by one of the best and most harmless TV secrets being outed, you can rest easy in the knowledge that, by contrast, Harper Collins executives will be enjoying a fantastic Christmas," he wrote.

Collins, who also featured as a stuntman in the James Bond film 'Quantum of Solace', was first named as 'The Stig' in reports last year, after he went to a photographic studio to commission prints of the masked driver in action.

The BBC then refused to confirm those reports.

Irish Independent

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