Former Stig Ben Collins Reportedly Planning ‘Top Gear’ Rival

Racer Ben Collins, a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known As Top Gear‘s Stig, is planning a car show that will rival that of his former bosses, according to newspaper reports. “Presenting is what I’d like to get into,” he tells The Daily Telegraph. “There were many ideas that I’ve had on Top Gear that they thought were too crazy and hopefully now I can get away with as a free agent.”

Not only does Collins want to be the next Richard Hammond, but he also has designs on being the next Ian McEwan. He says he “always wanted to write a book,” adding “There’s a lot of things I’ve got interest in. In terms of fiction as well. If I can muster those new skills it’s exciting.”

Collins previously accused the BBC of “bullying” him after he announced that he would write an autobiography outing himself as The Stig. He has since been let go from the show, and his book resulted in a legal battle to stop his publisher HarperCollins from releasing it. HarperCollins won that fight.

Anglophenia readers have sent me some passionate statements on the matter. Paula L wrote: “The Top Gear lot have gone down in my estimation because of the Stig fiasco. Rather than support him they’ve fallen in with BBC policy and kicked him to the kerb. Clarkson, May, and Hammond all have columns in national newspapers, other shows they present and book deals too. Getting pissy when someone else tries to make some extra cash is a lot like the pot calling the kettle black. I hope Ben Collins makes a bundle off his book.”

arthurwperry disagrees: “A contract is a contract. If he wasn’t suppose to reveal his identity, and then he shouldn’t have. If it was about money, then he should have (or his agent) done a better job negotiating his rate.”

JackieSpade8 adds: “I totally agree with BBC on this one. Deal is a deal. I have always compared the Stig to a great illusionist. When you watch an illusionist at work, it drives you crazy if you can’t figure a trick out. You watch over and over, to try and catch any clue as to how it is done. But once the secret is revealed, it takes all of that away. It loses the magic. Good luck to Ben, on future projects, and hello new Stig!”

What do you think – would you watch a car show with Ben Collins as host?

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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