The early days of Top Gear were odd to say the least. The show hadn’t quite worked out what it wanted to be, and Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson weren’t joined by James May. In fact, for the first season, Jason Dawe had taken Captain Slow’s seat, albeit for a short period of time.
Fast forward a year later to 2003 and things start to take shape with the Stig entering the fold. While we only found out years later, the voiceless Stig was played by Ben Collins – for the most part – but how did he get the role? In a recent interview with DriveTribe, he explained how he started on what became the most popular car show in the world.
“I began off-camera I suppose more or less on 2002 Top Gear, so it was my debut as the black Stig, so I’d got the whole Darth Vader outfit on for a day – I think it was a Ford day with Top Gear for the magazine,” Ben said.
“And that’s how I got started, so the magazine hired me to come in as the Stig, and that was my introduction to the TV world which began in 03 and that was a whole different level.”
He’s then asked about how the white Stig came about after the black version was launched into the sea.
“It was a big change and it was quite unexpected because I went along for an audition, met Andy Wilman the executive producer.
“I had no idea who he was, I assumed the director was the person in charge of everything, and Andy turned up,” Ben admitted.
“And I thought ‘okay’, clutching this big bunch of papers and sort of shuffled along.
“He threw me the keys to a car and did an assessment basically and then I didn’t hear from him,” Ben said, admitting that he thought the interview process didn’t go very well.
“But eventually I did hear that I’d landed this job, turned up and they had a fresh set of glistening white overalls, and that’s how it began.”
The Stig became legendary in the world of Top Gear, and soon after TV in general, with fans of the show eager to know who was behind the helmet with even Michael Schumacher being teased as the mystery wheelman. It was eventually revealed to be Ben Collins and a host of other racing drivers when needed. Unfortunately, the Stig stayed at Top Gear when Clarkson, Hammond, and May left, and has had little screen time since then.