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McCarthy: Being The Stig isn't the best job in the world...

The original Stig from cult BBC motoring show Top Gear, Perry McCarthy, has sought to correct a few common misconceptions - and suggests that regarding his successor Ben Collins' complaints, there's no smoke without fire...
In the wake of all the recent furore over Ben Collins' self-unveiling as The Stig from cult BBC motoring show Top Gear, the original Stig, one Perry McCarthy Esq, has spoken exclusively to Crash.net to tell the Beeb to 'pull their socks up' with regard to just how much money the so-called 'tame racing driver' should be paid – and sought to set a few records straight at the same time.

Last month, the BBC failed in its bid to gain a High Court injunction against the publication of Collins' revealing memoirs, The Man in the White Suit, and the single-seater turned sportscar ace has since gone on to speak out against the corporation for trying to 'bully' him into cancelling the book and paying him comparative peanuts for his enforced and increasingly difficult-to-maintain anonymity whilst his co-presenters and producers were at the same time raking in 'millions from merchandising' [see separate story – click here].

Top Gear's famously outspoken lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson has retorted by angrily describing Collins as a 'greedy tw*t' [see separate story – click here], but McCarthy – who played the role of the initial Black Stig from 2002 to 2003 – reckons there is no smoke without fire, and contends that his successor was likely somewhat hard done-by.

“It's always a difficult balance, it really is,” mused the irrepressible former grand prix ace. “For me personally, the BBC should pay The Stig a lot of money. I would say that, but even on the other Stig's behalf, I would say it for him, because they are paying for anonymity. The Stig is a big source of income for the BBC with regard to all the merchandising it has, and it's also a key element in a show that is sold internationally – and again, that is a fantastic income-driver.

“To keep The Stig quiet is an important part of the show, and needing someone who can pedal pretty well should be worth a lot more money than they're paying – and then they scream in pain when it's released. I think they need to pull their socks up a little bit on this one, because the other presenters are being paid terribly well.

Top Gear was good fun for me. I enjoyed it; it was an extension of what I've always done, which is driving cars round a track. Most of the time I was just testing the cars and then I'd have the 'Star in a Reasonably-Priced car' bit to deal with. It was fun meeting some of the celebrities I didn't know – that was good – but it was a job, and it wasn't the best job in the world for me as some people think it is, because I had the luxury of driving very, very fast racing cars for most of my career. [In the end] it was just going nowhere for me – it was a lot better being ex-Stig than current Stig. I seem to have worked that out a bit quicker than the other one..”

Quipping that his recurrent highlight from his stint on the show was 'sitting next to Jodie Kidd', McCarthy went on to correct a common misperception that he, like Collins, 'outed' himself from the role in his own autobiography, Flat-Out, Flat Broke. It was very much, he insists, a mutual decision – and one that pre-dated the launch of his entertaining book.

“It just keeps being written, and I'm really getting fed up with it!” the 49-year-old underlined. “Every time a Stig story comes out, at the base of the story it says the first Stig, Perry McCarthy, was fired for releasing his identity in his autobiography. Well, the actual thing is that my autobiography was launched in 2002.

“Jeremy was there at the book launch and we all had a great time, but he then told me they were bringing Top Gear back to the screen and they had an idea for me, and they were talking about the secret racing driver. I then did the first two series', but there were certain things that weren't working out for me – I was racing for Audi at the time, I was pretty busy and I wasn't particularly happy with BBC money, and I'm fairly vocal about that kind of thing!

by Russell Atkins

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Buck Bundy

October 13, 2010 4:32 PM
Last Edited 2414 days ago

Read and still have his autobiography - the version with no mention of being Stig, so I know he's telling the truth. The later editions had a different cover picture to the one in the photo, showing him in a Stig outfit, rather than the period Andrea Moda shot. Very funny book and well worth a read. Have to agree about the Ben Edwards comment too.

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