Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top Gear's The Stig Courting Controversy

The Stig
The BBC series Top Gear is hugely popular, even outside the UK. Apart from the three main presenters - Jeremy Clarkson, James May and the little bloke, what's'is name, Hammond, Richard Hammond - there is also a silent witness to the program's success: The Stig. Whenever Jeremy Clarkson utters words to the effect of "Now some say he is..." everyone knows it is time for a Stig segment. But who this white knight is, no one knows. His helmet never comes off and he never speaks.

If HarperCollins, a book publishing firm, gets its way however there may soon come an end to the fun. They are set to publish a book in which the true identity of The Stig is going to be revealed. The BBC began legal action against HarperCollins to prevent the book from being published. The case is set to continue behind closed doors as to continue the case in public would defeat the purpose, according to the judge.

Whether you are a petrol head or not, there is a certain spoil sport mentality in the HarperCollins' stance. They will have a quick cash-in on a book that will sell many copies purely on the strength of the reveal. Once the real identity of The Stig is known the sale of the book will drop off and that's it, the tempestuous tea cup will become calm again. But for millions of people, Top Gear will be just that little bit less enjoyable.

On the other hand it may give Top Gear an opportunity to come up with a new mystery (as they did in 2003, that version of the Stig later revealed himself in an autobiography). Maybe they can organise a competition for viewers to send in ideas. Oh, wait, there was something about competitions and the BBC wasn't there? As a matter of fact the BBC has quite a track record when it comes to controversies.

Oh, heck, it's impossible to choose sides here, they're all equally childish. Maybe it's time for a thorough spanking all round.

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