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Ben Collins has been dumped by the BBC after being *unmasked as Top Gear’s The Stig – and he has *already been *replaced.
Our exclusive pictures (below) show the new Stig – the show’s “tame racing driver” – in trademark white jumpsuit and crash helmet at a Top Gear Live event at the Nürburgring racing circuit in Germany on *Friday.
Meanwhile, 1,100 miles away, Collins was snapped pushing his daughters Izzy, three, and Scarlett, 18 months, in toy cars near their home in the West *Country.
The replacement Stig – whose identity is *obviously being kept a closely-guarded secret – has been brought in a week after Formula 3 driver Collins’ identity was *revealed amid a High Court battle over his *autobiography.
BBC bosses claim the book – due out on September 16 – is in breach of a *confidentiality agreement which Collins signed, to keep his name a secret.
The BBC insists that keeping The Stig’s identity a mystery is crucial to his *daredevil role as test driver for Top Gear, which is watched by 350million viewers around the world. Publishers HarperCollins hit back, accusing the Beeb of squandering *licence-fee payers’ money on expensive legal *action. But the show’s executive producer Andy Wilman accused HarperCollins of chasing profits to expose a “harmless” TV secret.
Collins – who has worked as a stunt double for James Bond star Daniel Craig – has played the elusive masked driver since 2003.
Clues to his identity were *uncovered in accounts for his company, Collins Auto-Sport, in December the same year. In it were details of income derived from “driving services for the BBC, mainly in the Top Gear *programme”.
A message posted on the official Top Gear website boasts that the Nürburgring event features “some of the World’s greatest precision drivers, as well as Top Gear’s very own tame racing driver – The Stig”.
Asked about the legal row yesterday, ousted Ben Collins said: “I am not allowed to talk about it.”
Last week the show’s original Stig lifted the lid on his life on the show in an *exclusive interview with the Sunday *Mirror.
Former Formula 1 driver Perry McCarthy, 49, said: “At first it was great fun.
“I lost count of the times I would be standing in a bar and some guy would be going, ‘Of course it’s Michael Schumacher.’ I never said anything.”
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