Interview: Top Gear's the Stig talks gadgets
Ben Collins, aka The Stig, sat down with T3 whilst recording a live action trailer for EA's upcoming Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, removed the helmet and discussed satnavs, driving apps, Angry Birds and finally revealing his identity to the world...
So, Ben, are you a big tech fan?
I love gadgets but I hate the ones that don’t work properly. I can’t stand the standard in-car satnavs that don’t take the full post code, it’s just ridiculous and you don’t quite get to the destination you want to. I do like the really good satnavs but largely I think they are disappointing and it’s disappointing having a woman shouting at you when you’re listening to music. There has got to be a better way like using a headup display.
What tech gets the most use in your car?
I love listening to music whilst driving along so I think it’s great the way cars are becoming much more multimedia is pretty cool.
What's the latest tech you've bought?
I’ve got an iPad and I think it’s just fantastic. The weird thing is, I got the iPhone and I was really excited with it but then I thought this is just hopeless because the battery life was appalling so I had to get back to BlackBerry. I’m a BlackBerry fan but I love the iPad.
I use my iPad for the internet; it is amazing for scanning through the internet. I enjoy reading books on it as well which is quite cool, and films, I am amazed with the quality of the picture for media and movies and live streaming, it’s just fantastic.
Do you have any favourite apps for the iPad?
Favourite apps, it’s got to be Angry Birds hasn’t it? it’s hard to get away from it.
I would love to do some apps and do some mad driving stuff. I haven’t seen any really good driving ones, that’s it; I think we need to do so driving apps. That would be really exciting. You can’t help but be frustrated when you race and do stunts and then come to do it on a game and it isn’t exactly like it is when for real, it would be great to get some more of those control elements absolutely honed.
The Stig features in the trailer for GT5, were you involved in the game at all?
I took Kazunori Yamauchi around the Top Gear Track for Gran Turismo 5 but I wasn’t involved in anyway with that game. There are so many features to the track that are unique so I was taking him through, showing him some of the lines, and he looked quite surprised. I will be interested to play the game and see how realistic it is.
Are you a gaming fan?
I love shooting games so I’m very excited about the next Medal of Honor. I really enjoy things like Halo and Call of Duty so that is going to be really cool.
I try not to be as competitive when playing racing games as I am on the track because I’m not as good at the games as I would like to be so I would probably get beaten by a 14-year-old boffin which would be embarrassing.
What is your ultimate gadget?
“I would love a home cinema, that would be awesome. One day, big, big, big speakers. I do look at the Bose system and think that would be amazing, to have something like that that can make your eardrums bleed when you are watching a film.”
How do you feel looking back on your time as The Stig?
Being The Stig I just loved that job, it was just fantastic and it was nearly eight years that I was there. I loved playing that character and developing it and the competitions with the F1 boys that came down and the challenges and all the good times so when I look back its all really positive and my life wouldn’t be the same without it. It was good fun.
Was there a specific moment when you decided it was time to reveal your identity?
Last year there was a big article in the Radio Times which I didn’t know anything about until it landed on my desk, or my builder slapped it in front of me at breakfast, revealing who The Stig was and I was in there as one of two what they called ‘Chief Suspects’. He just threw it on my table and said “Hey, sign this.” I was always very good at bluffing these things away but having someone who was our builder just land it on the breakfast table was a real writing on the wall moment that things were starting to unravel and within a week or so of that it was all across all the main tabloids so it was pretty clear it was time to move on but you are reluctant to lose that job. We clung on for another eight months or something but it was already done.
Hiding my identity as The Stig there were moments that happened all the time that were quite funny. Even now I just go about my business and people don’t realise and I was in a restaurant the other day and a guy said “I hear your brother in law is The Stig”.
Ben Collins was talking to T3 at the launch for Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. You can get more information on the game atea.com/uk
Video credit: Gavin Murphy, Editor