Belfast Telegraph

Top Gear boss slates Stig publisher

Top Gear's executive producer has lambasted the publishers who plan to release an autobiography unmasking the programme's mystery driver, The Stig.

Writing on the programme's website, Andy Wilman accused HarperCollins of chasing profits to expose a "harmless" TV secret which could ruin Christmas for fans.

And he insisted the BBC had a right to protect The Stig's anonymity from "a bunch of chancers". Clad in race overalls and a helmet, the driver's identity has long been a closely guarded show secret, and the Corporation has now taken legal action against book giant HarperCollins in an attempt to block publication.

It is claimed The Stig is bound by a confidentiality agreement and disclosing who he is would spoil viewers' enjoyment of the popular BBC Two programme. But HarperCollins has said it would "vigorously defend" its right to publish.

Insisting the BBC had "the right" to spend money on protecting its "intellectual property", Mr Wilman added: "The truth is that all that stuff - the Stig, the Tardis, the Blue Peter dog - does belong to the licence payer, and not to some opportunists who think they can come along and take a slice when they feel like it."

And in a pointed dig at the faceless driver, he wrote: "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. "

Currently only a handful of executives and Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are said to know who The Stig is.

Several racing drivers have been linked to the role, including racing driver Ben Collins, 33, who was a stunt double for James Bond.

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