Actor Ben Collins has revealed in his new biography that he plays the part of Jeremy Clarkson in television’s hit show, Top Gear. The show, which has run since 1977, was relaunched in 2002 when the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the original presenter came to the attention of the series’ producers.
The first Jeremy Clarkson had apparently begun to press for more coverage of green transport issues and had even started cycling into work. He insisted on a female driver for his BBC Staff car as he "felt safer when a woman was at the wheel" and spent his lunch breaks jogging around the Silverstone circuit.
Clarkson ran his Citroen 2CV on recycled cooking oil. “It smelled like a bloody chip shop,” said Adrian Philbin, the programme’s director. “He’d joined CND and gone on anti-fox hunting rallies. It was beyond a joke.”
For months, producers tried to cover up Clarkson’s eccentricities, even going so far as to publish a ghost-written column in The Sun.
However, when Clarkson attended filming wearing a pair of Farah slacks stating “I’m too old for jeans” it was clear that decisive action needed to be taken.
“That’s when I stepped in," said Collins. “I’d just passed my test on my fourth attempt and I’ve never liked Americans. It was typecasting really, but the money was good and I couldn’t say no.”
Collins had to practise lines such as I’d rather eat my own hair and If he steps on my land I’ll shoot him and signed a contract which confined him to listening only to soft rock music.
“It’s been a huge relief getting it all out in the open,” said Collins. “I really couldn’t face another Genesis track. Also, denim’s been setting off my psoriasis. All down to chafing really.”
Grinning, as he left his publisher’s offices he said, “And that little runt Richard Hammond is played by -.”
But, no, you’ll have to buy the book.
Like Shit Off a Shovel, is published by Harper Collins on Wednesday 15th September.