The Stig is the name given to the anonymous racing driver on the BBC motoring show Top Gear. In the show he is cast as a mysterious 'tamed racing driver' whose identity is unknown, and who never speaks or removes his helmet on camera. Nonetheless he is fully credited as a presenter alongside Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
This Stig was used for the first two series of the show. He was then 'killed off' at the start of the third series when he was shown driving a modified Jaguar XJ-S off the flight deck of HMS Invincible during a stunt and landing in the sea.
After The Black Stig was killed off, a new 'White Stig' was introduced, wearing white overalls and helmet. White Stig has featured in the show beyond just the Power Lap segment. His work has included driving cars in other segments of the show, for example finding a winner between the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, BMW M6 and Porsche 911 Carrera S on the Isle of Man.
The Stig's true identity is never revealed on the show, and in order to maintain the secrecy, all shots show him wearing full racing overalls and matching helmet. All that can be seen from the gap between his helmet and jumpsuit is that he is a white male with dark hair. It is also known that he wears size 10 racing boots as discovered by the Sunday Times when the Driving section wrote an article about the show.
The identity of the first Stig was revealed to be Perry McCarthy when his book Flat Out, Flat Broke was published in 2003. McCarthy is a former Formula 1 driver and test driver for the Benetton, Arrows and Williams teams, and also tested for BMW F1.
In January 2007, Russ Swift, a stunt driver that has appeared on the show a number of times, said in an interview that the Stig is not played by just one person.
Johnny Herbert, an ex-Formula One driver has featured in quite a few stunts in the show and has been tied to The Stig a number of times, which he has never denied.
In January '09 there was more speculation as Ben Collins was put forward as The Stig. Collins, a 33-year-old Bristol-based former Spam speedway driver and stuntman who doubled for Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond film, apparently outed himself to staff at a Bristol art studio. Another contestant for the role has been claimed to be Julian Bailey, 47 who drove for Lotus and Benetton in F1, but Collins was confirmed as the mystery man in September 2010. And to add a twist, Collins was a former member of 23 SAS. How cool is that? The Stig... one of Them.
Michael Schumacher was 'revealed' as The Stig on the new series of Top Gear in 2009, however many have rubbished this claim and stated it was merely a ploy to divert attention from The Stig hunting down and slaying MP's after their expenses claim's came to light.
Another source of entertainment for the presenters is the music The Stig listens to while doing power laps around the Top Gear track. Often a specific genre will be chosen for one or more series. These have included one-hit wonders, easy listening, prog rock, baroque, advertising jingles, foreign language tapes, romantic novels, and self-help tapes. Clarkson claimed in the show's first episode that music keeps The Stig calm during test laps.