Stig wars: does Top Gear need Clarkson or not?

Top Gear’s former Stig, Ben Collins, has hit out at Jeremy Clarkson – saying the show would “carry on and continue to be successful” without him if he was to be axed following his fracas with a producer.

Clarkson is currently facing an internal investigation, headed by the director of BBC Scotland Ken McQuarrie, following the alleged altercation.

The presenter hinted in Sunday’s copy of the Sun newspaper that he was a “dinosaur” and it was time to move on – and Ben Collins, who appeared as the Stig from 2003 to 2010, has said Clarkson isn’t the only reason people watch Top Gear.

He told Radio Times magazine: “Top Gear has achieved huge status and Jeremy has certainly been part of that because he’s got such a big personality… he’s an unstoppable force.

“But fans of the programme love it for lots of different reasons. Jeremy is certainly one of them, but not the only one.

“The Bond franchise… changes and moves forward. Top Gear will always continue… It will carry on and continue to be successful because millions of people watch it.”

But his Stig predecessor, Perry McCarthy, who appeared on the show from 2002 to 2003 spoke out last week – saying Top Gear wouldn’t be the same without Clarkson.

He said: “I personally find it really difficult to associate Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson… Jeremy brings a show about cars alive every week – the way he looks at stuff, the way he describes it, and that sheer fun that he, Richard and James have comes out of the camera.

“Obviously some of it’s scripted, obviously some of it’s practiced, but what you’re getting is fun – and that’s a real, genuine fun, it’s not one of these forced kind of interview shows about cars. They’re making everyone engage with it. If Jeremy is allowed back to work and Top Gear continues, then long may it go on.”

Which Stig do you agree with? Would Top Gear be the same without Jeremy Clarkson? And if he was to go, who could replace him?