Top Gear presenters shoot The Stig in drive-by
Jeremy Clarkson and co take revenge on Ben Collins by shooting at cutouts of The Stig as Top Gear returns
The presenters of BBC show Top Gear exacted some kind of a revenge on 'The Stig', firing guns at cardboard cutouts of their former colleague, as the new series of the popular motoring show fronted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May got underway on Tuesday night.
The episode was the first to be shown since The Stig, played by former Formula 3 driver Ben Collins, was sacked for revealing his identity and trying to cash in on his character's cult status. And the trio used targets in the likeness their ex-workmate as they tried their hands at a drive-by shooting in the Virginia desert.
The Stig, a mysterious test driver who only ever appeared in white overalls and a helmet, had become an integral part of the show, featuring in many of the sketches and coaching celebrity guests for the 'star in a reasonably priced car' racing challenge.
Speculation over the true identity of the man under the helmet had been raging for several series before Collins tried to go public by publishing an autobiography. The BBC spent more than £75,000 on their attemnpt to prevent Collins and his publishers HarperCollins from releasing the book, called The Man In The White Suit, but ultimately failed. Collins was immediately sacked from the show, but to rub salt into the wound then signed up with Channel 5's rival motoring show, 5th Gear.
At the start of the new series the presenters made their feelings about Collins known, describing him as a Judas and attacking him for being disloyal. Later in the show they took pot shots at cutouts of him from speeding cars in what was described as the "Stig-shooting drive-by competition".
May fired a handgun at his target from a Ferrari, before Hammond turned his cutout of The Stig round "so I can shoot him in the back" and shot at it from a Porsche.
Clarkson, as usual, tried to go one better and swapped his handgun for an automatic rifle, and unloaded it from a Mercedes before declaring himself the winner with 245 points.
Despite the presenters' uncompromising reaction to Collins's departure, there could still be room for The Stig when the Top Gear series proper gets underway in January.
Collins's version of The Stig was the second to appear in the show. Between 2002 and 2003 the character was dressed in black.The BBC hinted that there could be a replacement when it released a video of its 'Stig farm' on the Top Gear website, where different Stigs in different coloured overalls were shown being ‘raised’. ·
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