Actor Patrick Stewart profiles his childhood hero, the legendary British racing driver Sir Stirling Moss. Together they explore Stirling’s career as a racing driver of incredible skill who up held sportmanship, refering to the 1958 Formula 1 season when his sporting attitude to arch-rival Mike Hawthorne effectively cost him the that year's world championship.

Not that Stirling was a saint. Out of hours, he was your original 1950's playboy, ever ready to “meet the crumpet and have fun”, he recalls. The life of a racing driver then was, he reckons, “as good a life as anyone could ask for”, though it took a near-fatal turn with his career-ending crash at Goodwood in 1962. They discuss the effects of the crash and why it may just have been the best ever thing that happened to Stirling. Stewart drives a Vanwall Formula 1 car at the scene of Stirling's historic 1957 British Grand Prix victory at Aintree, a place that brings back special memories for Stirling. They also drive cars together from Stirling's racing heyday, including a Mercedes 300 SL gullwing, which they pilot along the route of the famous Mille Miglia road race in Italy, the scene of one of Stirling's most famous victories in 1955. It turns out, at 83, Stirling really hasn’t slowed down all that much.

Racing Legends is a new series being shown on BBC 2 where high-profile car enthusiasts pay tribute to British driving greats and re-enact one of their most famous races. In the first episode, actor Patrick Stewart and former racing driver Stirling Moss travel to Florence in a classic Mercedes to retrace the route of Italy's most famous road race - the Mille Miglia. The next two episodes feature Chris Hoy on rally legend, Colin McRae, with the help of his father Jimmy, and James Martin on Sir Jackie Stewart, the three time Formula 1 champion.

Episode one of Racing Legends, with Stirling and Patrick Stewart, will be broadcast at 8.00pm, 27th December on BBC 2.


© BBC - photography by Steve Perry