Hands up if you really care who Top Gear’s The Stig is? Not many of you I’m guessing. Fact is, the character is much more important than the person who plays him. It’s a bit like finding out Father Christmas is your dad, half cut after coming in from the lash on Christmas Eve.
However, there’s a book coming out revealing the identity of The Stig and the Top Gear producers are not happy about it at all.
The executive producer of BBC2’s Top Gear has launched a withering attack on HarperCollins, calling the publisher of the book that reveals the identity of the show’s anonymous test driver, the Stig, “a bunch of chancers”.
In a blog on the Top Gear website, Andy Wilman hits out at attempts by the publisher to name the show’s mystery driver, who has been anonymous since the character’s introduction – in its current incarnation – in 2003.
The Sunday Times named former Formula Three driver Ben Collins as the Stig after it emerged that he was writing an autobiography.
Wilman attacked HarperCollins’ claim that the BBC is wasting licence fee payers’ money by pursuing a high court battle to halt the publication of the book.
He said the corporation “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”.
The anonymity of the Stig has remained intact for eight years because viewers and the media enjoy the mystique, Wilman added.
“Anyway, HarperCollins 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, HarperCollins’ executives will be enjoying a fantastic Christmas,” he said.
“Do you want a BBC that runs away from a snidey headline, or one that fights to protect its belongings? What’s the saying? ‘It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees’.
“A bit dramatic I know, but the fact is, the ramshackle, dysfunctional family that is the Top Gear team, from the newest runner right up to Jeremy, Richard and James, has worked bloody hard for many years to make the Stig something worth caring about, and that includes protecting it from a bunch of chancers.”
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