GMTV Name The Stig – (as if we didn’t already know)
BBC’s Top Gear is one of the most popular programmes around and that’s not just here in the UK, but in over 100 countries around the world, so pretty much everyone has heard of “The Stig”
Wearing a white race suit and helmet with a blackened visor and refusing to speak, the Stig is the guy that does the fast laps around the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Park and of course, trains the celebrities for the “star in a reasonably priced car” feature.
Well, its claimed the current Stig wants to publish his autobiography and that the BBC isn’t too happy about that because it would reveal his identity. It’s alleged that BBC lawyers are saying he is subject to a confidentiality agreement and unmasking himself would spoil viewers’ enjoyment of the BBC2 programme.
Whilst, the Stig, might have some legal reasons, why he cant unmask himself, it hasn’t stopped the newspapers and the internet from already doing so, so perhaps the BBC are trying to shut the gate after the Stig has bolted here, because its already out there, for anyone who takes the time to find out.
The identity of the original Stig (The Black Stig) was knocking around the internet for ages before British racing driver Perry McCarthy revealed his role as the character in his autobiography resulting in the BBC deciding to write him out of the program by firing him off the deck of a warship in the third series of Top Gear and going on to replace him with white Stig
It’s said that only a handful of executives and Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May know who white Stig is, but that’s blatantly untrue, as just a few minutes spent on Google will give you all the answers.
However, it seems the BBC’s action has now prompted more than media speculation, as for those of you who didn’t already know, rival ITV’s morning show GMTV has both named him and also shown photographs.
He is British racing driver and stunt man Ben Collins.
If you’ve watched the show, well you’ve already seen Ben Collins, as he has appeared on the show as himself on a number of occasions. In 2004, Collins made an appearance during the fourth season of Top Gear, in a stunt involving a parachutist jumping out of a Cessna light aircraft then landing in a convertible Mercedes being driven by Ben Collins. Later that year, Collins was also a member of Hammond’s driving team in the 24-hour Citroen 2CV race where the team finished thirteenth, out of fourteen cars.
In 2005, Ben Collins featured during series five, driving a Lancer Evo VII and then a Bowler Wildcat vehicle in a rally race against mountain boarding world champion Tom Kirkman and at the start of series six, Collins was back, appearing with other British Touring Car Championship racing and stunt drivers for a Five-a-side football game using a fleet of Toyota Aygo cars and indeed, Collins can also be seen driving the Honda Civic Type-R against Jeremy Clarkson in Episode 6 of Season 10.
Proof, if proof were needed that Ben Collins was the Stig, came from an official source, following Richard Hammonds accident in a Jet powered dragster, as in September 2006, the official “Health & Safety Executive” report into the crash, referred to Ben Collins as working closely with Top Gear as “Top Gears high performance driver and consultant” stating it was Collins that prepared the briefing for Richard Hammond before the crash.
Ben Collins has always denied being the Stig (as you would expect) but was outed by the Daily Telegraph in January 2009 and in a follow up article in ‘The Times’ it was claimed that the Stigs identity had been an open secret within the motoring world for some years and until that point, newspapers had refrained from publishing his name, to uphold the spirit of the programme. However, sometime earlier two Bristol based newspapers ran an article which was leaked from a local art gallery detailing how Ben Collins had commissioned the art gallery to produce a run of 450 poster prints showing a salt flats scene with The Stig standing on it, which were to be sold for £318 each. Apparently, Collins had portrayed himself as a BBC marketing executive and only confirmed his connection with the Top Gear character after the signing of confidentiality agreements. The galleries owner, said: “I was absolutely amazed when he said he was the Stig, it was quite a big thing in a weird way.”
Collins was born in 1975 and lives in Bristol. He started his motor sport career in 1994, competing in Formula First and Formula Vauxhall Junior on his way to International Formula 3. He found success in Motor Sport in several branches ranging from Formula Three and Le Mans Sports cars to GT, American Speedway and NASCAR. In the 2008 film Quantum of Solace, Collins drove James Bond’s Aston Martin DBS as a stunt double for Daniel Craig. Collins also holds a World Record for the maximum distance of driving a car on two wheels (a maneuver called “skiing”).
OK, this is all trivia really but it demonstrates how interested we are in things that don’t really matter, after all for many of us, we’ve never heard of Ben Collins and we have now found out that a character we don’t know anything about is played by another character that we also don’t know anything about.