A laugh for Top Gear aficionados

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN
Last updated 12:11 07/02/2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Stig: The Untold Story
By Simon du Beaumarche (BBC Ebury, RRP $38)

Some say he naturally faces magnetic north and has two sets of knees.

He is, of course, The Stig.

Forget that frilly wannabe Austin Powers. The true international man of mystery is the elusive and enigmatic Top Gear test driver The Stig.

Simon du Beaumarche has penned biographies for many a famous subject - from Madonna to John Major - but he reckons telling the story of The Stig has been his most challenging project to date.

He spent a year chasing the white jumpsuited enigma, with his quest taking him "from Surrey to another part of Surrey to the very ends of Surrey and then, unexpectedly, to Finland before returning to Surrey".

That's always the way of The Stig, tricky and elusive.

The author has interviewed those in The Stig's inner circle, including Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, along with leading figures from motor racing, movies, music and the military.

Was The Stig the fifth Beatle? Was he there when the Berlin Wall fell? Maybe, maybe not.

What we do know is that he is always introduced by Clarkson on Top Gear with two bizarre facts (such as him being afraid of bells, confused by stairs or having a voice that can be heard only by cats), he always wears his helmet and white race suit - although there was the original "Black Stig" - and that he is quite fond of power ballads while making his way around a race track at a great rate of knots.

OK, let's be honest: this book is really a load of old boll... well, you know what I mean. If you are looking for a factual, serious history of the character those of us who watch Top Gear know as The Stig then perhaps you should save your money.

However, if you are a Top Gear fan and are ready for a giggle, don't mind a bit of silliness and have some spare time, then get to your local bookshop because you'll love this.

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