Following Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension from Top Gear in the wake of the host’s now-notorious fracas with a producer on the show, an internal inquiry headed by BBC executive Ken MacQuarrie has begun the process which could decide whether Clarkson will remain at the Corporation.
The question is, could Top Gear survive without Clarkson?
Two men who should have a pretty good idea are drivers who once spent time as The Stig – the mysterious helmeted man in white who helps the show’s guest-stars navigate the Top Gear test track.
But just as the nation is divided over what should be Clarkson’s fate, so are the former Stigs when it comes to Top Gear’s future without him.
According to Perry McCarthy – who was The Stig between 2002 and 2003 – the show would be “diluted” if Clarkson left.
“You would be taking the fire out of it,” he says in this week’s Radio Times magazine. “I think you would have a diluted product. I don’t think it will have the value it did, here and overseas. And God help any soul who takes his place, because that’s like signing up for your own firing squad.”
However, another ex-Stig – Ben Collins, the man behind the helmet between 2003 and 2011 – says the show could carry on in good health even without it’s star host.
“Top Gear will always continue,” says Collins. “I think it’s a great programme and it would be ridiculous to take it off air – I don’t think that’s what anybody wants and I’m sure that won’t happen. It will carry on and continue to be successful because millions of people watch it.”
Read the former Stigs’ verdicts in full in the new issue of Radio Times on sale from Tuesday 17th March