He’s best known as the man in the plain white helmet, scooting around the Top Gear test track or training celebrities on how best to be a Star in a Reasonable Priced Car.
Now, Top Gear’s ‘tame racing driver, The Stig, faces a legal battle with the BBC over whether he’s allowed to give his real name.
The man behind the, eh, helmet wants to write an autobiography – but the broadcaster insists he’s not allowed to do so, claiming it would breach ”agreed contractual and confidentiality obligations relating to the programme” if he were to do so.
Only a handful of executives, and the show’s three presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, are said to know the Stig’s true identity. Even the celebrities he trains don’t know his real name.
But the Stig is understood to be privately annoyed at how much the show’s presenters earn from its lucrative spinoffs – with Jeremy Clarkson making £800,000 last year from the show’s commercial spinoffs, aside from his wage for presenting the show itself – while his own anonymity stops him from cashing in on the BBC’s Stig-related merchandise.
Media lawyers say the Stig may be able to defend his case by saying his identity is public domain already – with it being long believed that his real name is Ben Collins, a 33-year-old former Formula Three driver – and that his identity being withheld would be a basic violation of the driver’s human rights.
Ironically, the current Stig is the second person to fulfil the role – the original Stig, who wore an all-black suit instead of an all-white one, Perry McCarthy, was sacked when his identity was revealed.