The Stig, one of the stars of the cult BBC series Top Gear, has been unmasked as 35-year-old Ben Collins.

The BBC took legal action to prevent the publication of The Stig's new autobiography in which the racing driver reveals his identity. But today the BBC lost the battle, allowing The Stig to leave the High Court in front of the cameras as plain Ben Collins.

The Stig's primary functions on the BBC show - watched by 350 million people worldwide - are to post Power Lap times in various cars around the Top Gear Test Track in Dunsfold Park, Surrey and to train each week's celebrity guest in setting a lap time in the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" feature on the show.

But on each show The Stig wears racing overalls and a blacked-out helmet to hide his identity. He doesn't even speak on air.

His identity has been such a mystery that theories over his identity have been doing the rounds over the years. Last year it was claimed that Formula 1 superstar Michael Schumacher is The Stig.

During the High Court trial the BBC claimed that The Stig is bound by a confidentiality agreement and that revealing who he is would spoil viewers' enjoyment of the popular BBC Two programme.

Top Gear, which has been on screens since 1977 and has had several presenters over the years, originally had a black Stig. In 2002, the British former Formula 1 star Perry McCarthy wrote in his autobiography that he is The Stig. But the Black Stig was "killed" in 2003 when he was shown driving a modified Jaguar XJ-S off the flight deck of aircraft carrier HMS Invincible during a stunt and landing in the sea!

Ben Collins, the current White Stig, took his place (there is a Stig factory in Surrey that produces hundreds of Stigs a year, so it's no tragedy if one is killed).

The Stig was originally supposed to have been called The Gimp until protests from the original Stig, Perry McCarthy, put a stop to the idea. Stig derives from the nickname "Stig" given to new boys at Repton School where presenter (since 1988 ) Jeremy Clarkson attended with Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman.

It might not be long before the current Stig is killed. When a Stig reveals his identity he usually doesn't live much longer.

BBC loses Top Gear court battle which means we can reveal that racing driver Ben Collins really IS The Stig

By Daily Mail Reporter
1st September 2010
Daily Mail

The High Court today refused to grant a temporary injunction preventing the revelation of the identity of Top Gear's The Stig as Ben Collins.

The BBC had taken legal action to block HarperCollins' publication of the 35-year-old's autobiography which would unmask the mystery racing driver.

It claimed he is bound by a confidentiality agreement and that revealing who he is would spoil viewers' enjoyment of the popular BBC Two programme.

Mystery man: Ben Collins, pictured leaving the High Court today, right, was revealed as The Stig last month

The driver's identity has long been a closely guarded show secret, spawning T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as 'My Dad is The Stig'.

Only executives and Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are said to know the identity of The Stig, famous for racing cars on the show wearing white overalls and a blacked-out visa.

However, many viewers may already have had a good idea about who he is after a company owned by Mr Collins, a stuntman from Bristol, published accounts listing 'driving services provided for the BBC, mainly in the Top Gear programme'.

After more than a day of legal submissions in private before Mr Justice Morgan in London, lawyers for HarperCollins emerged today to say the case had concluded in their favour.

Solicitor Robin Shaw said: 'The judge has said he is not going to grant an injunction in this case.

Petrol heads: The Stig with the rest of the Top Gear crew, from left, Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson

'Reasons are to follow and will be given in a private judgment.'

Mr Collins was in court for part of today's hearing.

A spokesman for the BBC said today's judgment did not prevent it from pursuing the matter to a full trial of the issues.

Several racing drivers have been linked to the role, including former Formula One world champions Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher and - most recently - Mr Collins, who was a stunt double for James Bond.

Top Gear originally had a black Stig, but when former Formula 1 star Perry McCarthy revealed in his autobiography in 2002 that he is the Stig he was "killed" in 2003 by driving a Jaguar off an aircraft carrier

The current Stig is the second in the role. The first Stig, Perry McCarthy, was dropped in 2003 after his identity was uncovered.

HarperCollins communications director Siobhan Kenny said later: 'This is a victory for freedom of speech.

'Ben Collins has a great story to tell about his seven years as The Stig which will appeal to a wide audience beyond the world of motoring enthusiasts. The book will be published on September 16.'

Last edited by Blackleaf; Sep 1st, 2010 at 12:05 PM..