Have you ever been in a situation where a secret is uncovered and you think, "That’s it. Now that the secret’s out, everything can go back to normal?" Yeah, we haven’t had that happen very often either because, well, if something is a secret then that usually means that it can cause a lot of turmoil if it gets out. Well, that’s about where we are with the whole Top Gear /Ben Collins/The Stig scenario. Unless you have been living under a rock, then you know that The Stig has been unmasked and all we have left is racing driver Ben Collins, an autobiography, a ruling by the court, and the aftermath that will be unraveling for some time. Let’s go back to the beginning and see how this all played out. Don’t worry we’ll get to the aftermath part in due time.
It all started with an autobiography written by the man behind the white suit about his time in the driver’s seat. Writing a book about your experiences in such a dramatic role usually isn’t a big deal, but in this case, the crew at BBC had gone to plenty of trouble ensuring that the identity of the driver would not be revealed, so someone deciding it was time to let the cat out of the bag wasn’t necessarily something they expected or wanted. They even included a privacy and confidentiality clause in their contract with The Stig to make sure this scenario would not take place. Better luck next time fellas. That was part one.
Hit the jump for the complete, as of yet, telling of the story.
The second part of this development was the court case. BBC was not going to let this betrayal go unpunished so they decided to take The Stig, now uncovered as Ben Collins thanks to a series of financial documents from the driver’s company, to court for violating his contract. They not only took Collins to court, but the 35 year old driver was also terminated and a replacement Stig was put to work. That was part two.
This brings us to the ruling. With the contract stating the secretive nature of the position in black and white, one would think that BBC would have this case in the bag. This was quite the opposite of what ensued. The judge actuallyruled in favor of Collins leaving him free to publish his book whenever he pleased. BBC was left with the void contract in hand, and their tail between their legs. Now, we get to read the fantastic story The Stig has to tell and we also get another chance to uncover the secret identity of the next Stig. The third part thus ends.
So far we’ve only heard BBC’s side of the story since Ben Collins has kept mum during the entire ordeal. With a win under his belt and a book due to be published very soon, Collins has now stepped out of the shadows to give his take on this experience. He claims that BBC “bullied” him into leaving his role after the driver revealed his plans to write an autobiography. Apparently, Collins thought telling his story was acceptable considering the public had already uncovered his identity previously. He told The Sun: "Across the motoring world many people already knew who I was. But coming without warning, this was a snowball that couldn’t stop rolling." Collins further explained that BBC’s producers treated him as a “prop” and that executive producer Andy Wilman "has since said I was the same as a Dalek or the Blue Peter dog." We are sure that was a bitter pill to swallow for a character that was just as famous as Top Gear’s trio of reviewers.
When asked about Collins’ allegations, a BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC categorically refutes any accusations of bullying.
"Once Ben informed the BBC of his intentions, he was reminded of his confidentiality obligations and it was made clear to him that if he went ahead with the book, he would not be able to remain in his role."
Your guess is as good as ours as to what the next piece of dirty laundry will bring, but one thing’s for sure; we have not heard the end of this dramatic tale.