Ben Collins, ‘Top Gear’s Former Stig, Joins Rival Car Show

 The Stig saga continues: Ben Collins, who unmasked himself as Top Gear‘s enigmatic racer to the chagrin of his bosses, had reportedly been planning his own car show. However, today comes news that Mr. Collins is joining Fifth Gear, a rival car on British TV network Five. He’ll make his first appearance as a presenter on the show when its new season premieres next Friday. The Guardian reports that Collins “will take on ‘Stig-like’ roles, in a ‘colorful racing suit.” (Typecast much?)

What is Fifth Gear? When the previous incarnation of Top Gear was axed in 2001, a few of its presenters, including Tiff Needell and Vicki Butler-Henderson, helped launch the new car show, Fifth Gear. (The revamped Top Gear hit the airwaves in 2002.)

Fifth Gear has been aimed more at the “everyday driver” than the more polished Top Gear, which has boasted higher production values, flashier stunts, and greater star power. But the two shows have some striking similarities. Check out a clip from a Fifth Gear car review. Everything about it – the pans, the cheeky asides, the music – seems pulled straight from the Top Gear playbook:

The question “Which show is better?” has sparked tons of debate on these Interwebs over the years. However, with TV audiences, Fifth Gear has remained in the shadow of Top Gear, and there were even rumors of Fifth Gear‘s cancellation earlier this year.

Maybe the show feels that hitching its trailer to the controversial Collins will entice viewers to check it out? What do you think about Ben Collins joining Fifth Gear? Would it make you more likely to watch?

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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