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Top Gear producer blasts Stig book plans

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The Stig from Top Gear

© BBC

Top Gear's executive producer has described HarperCollins as a "bunch of chancers" for planning to publish a book revealing the true identity of The Stig.

Writing in a blog post entitled The Stig. He's Ours on the Top Gear website, Andy Wilman said that the BBC has the right to protect The Stig's identity, while HarperCollins merely wants to "cash in on it".

Earlier this week, the BBC went to the High Court as part of efforts to block publication of the book, which it claims would breach confidentiality agreements.

HarperCollins has pledged to "vigorously defend" its right to publish the book, while also criticising the BBC for spending licence fee payers' money to "suppress" it.

Writing on the blog, Wilman said: "The BBC has the right to spend money on protecting the intellectual property it created, because the truth is that all that stuff - The Stig, the Tardis, the Blue Peter dog - does belong to the licence payer, and not to some opportunists who think they can come along and take a slice when they feel like it."

Wilman said that the sense of "mystique" is what makes The Stig so special to audiences young and old. However, he claimed that HarperCollins has decided that the mystery is not "as important as their profits".

"If you get your Christmas ruined by one of the best and most harmless TV secrets being outed, you can rest easy in the knowledge that by contrast, HarperCollins' executives will be enjoying a fantastic Christmas," he concluded.

"Do you want a BBC that runs away from a snidey headline, or one that fights to protect its belongings? What's the saying? 'It's better to die on your feet than live on your knees'.

"A bit dramatic I know, but the fact is, the ramshackle, dysfunctional family that is the Top Gear team, from the newest runner right up to Jeremy, Richard and James, has worked bloody hard for many years to make The Stig something worth caring about, and that includes protecting it from a bunch of chancers."

Wilman also revealed that BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm that makes money out of properties such as Top Gear, is paying half the legal costs during the case.

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