The Stig's BBC book row

The BBC is attempting to block 'Top Gear's anonymous stunt driver The Stig from releasing his autobiography

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The Stig

The Stig

The BBC is attempting to stop 'Top Gear's The Stig from releasing his autobiography.

The stunt racing driver's real identity has been a mystery since he was introduced to the show in 2003, and both his popularity and that of the show is partly due to his anonymity, remaining hidden behind a helmet and black visor.

If the autobiography is published, it will reveal the true identity of the driver - which the BBC says will tarnish the show's reputation and violate The Stig's confidentiality agreement.

A BBC source told the Daily Mail newspaper: "The BBC is in a legal dispute over the publication of a book relating to 'Top Gear' as this breaches agreed contractual and confidentiality obligations relating to the show.

"This is absolutely about confidentiality. These are such unusual circumstances because he is anonymous."

Lawyers for the BBC and the publishers of the autobiography are now locked in a legal battle, which could lead to The Stig either quitting or being axed from the show.

The real identity of the driver is known by only a small number of BBC executives and the show's presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

The Stig featured on the show is the programme's second after the identity of the first, driver Perry McCarthy, was revealed in 2002.

Many people have been linked to the role, including ex-Formula One champion Damon Hill, racing driver Julian Bailey and stunt driver Ben Collins.

The show has played tricks on viewers in the past, such as having Formula One racing champ Michael Schumacher climb out of The Stig's suit and present himself as the mystery driver.

The Stig is thought to earn around £10,000 for each show he appears in, racing a number of cars and providing training to celebrities in the 'Star In A Reasonably Priced Car' segment of the show. Although he gives them direction, he does so in full costume, thus preserving his anonymity.

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