My Gadget Life – Ben Collins (aka The Stig)
The former face of Top Gear's faceless driver on gadgets, games and Clarkson's driving...
I love gaming
I’ve got an Xbox 360 and if I’m filming something and have a bit of spare time I get stuck in on my PSP. I find standard racing games really boring – I can’t take them seriously, so I just bash the other cars out the way. That’s what’s good about Need For Speed. I like crashing people into barriers and escaping from the police.
I’d love a proper home cinema
That’s my dream. I’ve got surround sound, but nothing beats a proper cinema. I haven’t watched any 3D telly, so I’m not sure about that yet. I was in John Lewis recently and I was looking at these two TVs for ages thinking, “That one isn’t as good as the one next to it.” Then I realised it was 3D and I should’ve had the glasses on.
I drove an Aston Martin DBS for Quantum of Solace
That’s probably my favourite Bond car. In fact, it’s one of my favourite cars, full stop. The accelerator pedal is as light as a feather, which means you can do anything you want with it. It’s incredibly powerful and it makes this fantastic barking howl. It’s very driveable, it’s got great technology in the braking systems and it’s a bit cheeky too. To me, it’s almost perfect.
I do miss the Bond gadgets
I hope they bring the quirky ones back – although I prefer the gritty, more realistic Bond. Daniel Craig is fantastic. I love all the car gadgets: the missiles, oil slicks, bulletproof windows… They pioneered sat-nav in a way – all sat-navs should come with a sonar-style Bond bleep. Something to make you feel like a spy as you drive.
Keeping The Stig secret was no easy task
I had to go to pretty extreme lengths to keep my anonymity, but it was a job I wanted to keep doing for as long as possible, even if I couldn’t take advantage of it to blag stuff! The last guy didn’t even last 12 months, so eight years was a pretty good innings. You start with a full cup of anonymity and it only goes one way. By the time I finished there was almost nothing left and I felt it was time to leave.
Clarkson was definitely my most difficult student
He was just impossible. Lots of the celebrities were good, though. Most of them came to learn. Ronnie O’Sullivan was a natural talent, Simon Cowell was good and Tom Cruise was such a nice bloke. He really got stuck in with the car; at one point he nearly flipped it, he was pushing so hard.
I’m no engineer…
But to be a racing driver you have to understand what’s going on with the car in order to relate to the techy guys in the team, otherwise you wouldn’t understand the changes they make. Saying that, if you asked me to change the cylinder in an engine I’d break it.
Formula 1 is at its peak again
The guys in it are fighting tooth and nail and they’re the best in the game. The fact that Schumacher jumped back in and is finding it tough says it all. I still think you should see the cars working a bit more, though. They’ve taken away traction control and ABS, but to the untrained eye it can still look easy. It’d be nice to see the drivers really working the steering to show how hard they’re pushing.
Need For Speed Hot Pursuit is available now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC