Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear: Former Stig Ben Collins says show 'will always continue' with or without suspended host

Collins was the masked racing driver for eight years and left in 2011

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The Independent Culture

Racing driver Ben Collins, The Stig on Top Gear for eight years, has said that the motoring show will “always continue” with or without its suspended host Jeremy Clarkson.

Collins, who left in 2011 after his own clash with the BBC, insists that fans love the programme “for lots of different reasons” and that it cannot be “only anchored in one person”.

“Top Gear has achieved huge status and Jeremy has certainly been part of that because he’s got such a big personality, he’s an unstoppable force,” he told Radio Times magazine.

“But the Bond franchise…changes and moves forward. Top Gear will always continue, it will carry on and continue to be successful because millions of people watch it. Things will evolve one way or the other.”

An investigation is currently underway after Clarkson was involved in a “fracas” with a producer, reportedly over a steak dinner. It is not yet known when a verdict is expected on his future with Top Gear.

 

Collins departed the BBC amid controversy himself, when the broadcaster launched legal action over his decision to unmask his identity and publish an autobiography. It failed to win the case but Clarkson was apparently unsupportive throughout.

“I handed in my notice and had discussions with the BBC and they decided to go to court, which was a real shame and not what I wanted,” he said.

“Was Jeremy supportive? No, he wasn’t. We haven’t spoken since. But I get on really well now with the guy that hired me (executive producer and Clarkson’s close friend Andy Wilman) and I’m really delighted about that.”

Collins said last year that Top Gear had “lost some its sparkle” and become “a bit same-same”. “The squabbling that goes on, the caricatures with each other, is a bit tried and tested,” he told The Independent.

Collins’ take on Clarkson stands in contrast to that of Perry McCarthy, The Stig for the first two series, who believes a Top Gear without him would be a “damaged goods”.

“I think you’re going to have a diluted product,” he said. “God help any soul who takes his place because that’s like signing up for your own firing squad. The only person who could take it on would be somebody who has nothing to lose.”

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