Top Gear: BBC Loses Case To Block “Stig” Autobiography

As BBC NEWS reported earlier, a London court denied the BBC’s request to block HarperCollins’ publication of The Man In the White Suit, an autobiography from former Formula Three racer Ben Collins. In the book, it is claimed that Collins is The Stig, the enigmatic driver on Top Gear. For those who don’t know who Collins is, ITN has some footage of him emerging from court today:

The Stig had become our generation’s Deep Throat, a closely-guarded secret that has prompted much speculation. As for the BBC, they will neither confirm or deny that Collins is actually The Stig. On Friday, Top Gear executive producer Andy Willman broke his silence on the matter on the blog on Top Gear’s official BBC site. Here’s an excerpt:

The whole point of the Stig is the mystique – the bizarre characteristics he has, the wonderment created about what he might think, feel, do or look like. Kids adore the conceit, and I believe adults, although they know it’s a man in a suit (or is it?), gladly buy into the whole conceit because they find it entertaining. Even the papers, who love to make mischief, have kept everyone guessing over the years because they acknowledge that viewers like the Stig secrecy thing.

So why are we fighting in court? Well, obviously we want to protect the Stig’s anonymity for the reasons I’ve just outlined. Also, it’s an issue of trust. Everyone who’s ever worked on Top Gear has kept the Stig thing a secret, and the person who wears the suit has signed confidentiality agreements to do the same. So talk about what you like in your own life, but not the bit you agreed not to. Your word is supposed to mean something.

So what are your thoughts on The Stig’s identity possibly being revealed – will that change your feelings about the show?

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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