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Stig’s identity revealed!

BBC’s attempts to block revelation fail.

The Stig - unmasked.
The Stig - unmasked.
Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE BBC’S ATTEMPT to prevent the unmasking of its famous Stig character from Top Gear has failed. Former Formula 3 racing driver Ben Collins, 35, has been officially revealed as the Stig.

The BBC sought to prevent the publication of a book by HarperCollins which would reveal the identity of the white-clad character.

The station claimed that the driver had signed a confidentiality agreement, and that mystery was an integral part of the character.

However, the driver was reportedly unhappy he was missing out on the promotional deals available to other TV personalities.

The publishers criticised the BBC for spending licence payers’ money on the legal battle, but Top Gear’s producer hit back at the accusations on Friday, saying that HarperCollins was being hypocritical.

Producer Andy Wilman said that HarperCollins’ only interest in taking the case was to ensure it would be able to get the books out in time for the Christmas market, and said the BBC had a right to protect its property:

The fact is, the “waste of licence payer’s money” argument gets trotted out many times as a way of attacking the BBC, but the reality is this: the BBC is a massive organisation. It’s naive to think it can only ever spend money on cameras, tape for the cameras, Daleks or anything else that contributes directly to what ends up on screen.

The BBC also has the right to spend money on protecting the intellectual property it created, because the truth is that all that stuff – the Stig, the Tardis, the Blue Peter dog – does belong to the licence payer, and not to some opportunists who think they can come along and take a slice when they feel like it.

Collins is a racing driver and stuntman, and performed in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

It remains to be seen how the show itself will respond to Collins’ unmasking. In 2003, the previous incarnation of the Stig – the original black Stig – was identified as Perry McCarthy in his autobiography.

Top Gear dramatically staged the death of the black Stig on air in revenge:

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