The Stig is a character in the British motoring television show Top Gear. The character plays on the anonymity of racing drivers' full-face helmets, with the running joke that nobody knows who, or indeed what, is inside the character's racing suit. The character was the creation of presenter Jeremy Clarkson and the show's producer Andy Wilman. "Stig" was a nickname for new boys at their old school, Repton. Although there is one "main" Stig, there are several "spin-off" Stigs, referred to by the presenters as "The Stig's cousin."
The Stig is responsible for setting lap times for cars tested on the show, as well as instructing celebrity guests in the show's Star in a Reasonably Priced Car section. (see "Role" below) There have currently been 3 Stigs - The first Stig started on episode 1, but was killed off in the first episode of series 3. The second Stig appeared in the next episode, and lasted until series 15. The third Stig took over from December 2010.
The BBC has always refused to confirm officially the identity of the driver who plays the Stig. "Who is The Stig?" became a frequently asked question on the internet. The identity of the original 'Black' Stig, Perry McCarthy, was exposed by a Sunday newspaper after the first series of the show, in January 2003. McCarthy confirmed that he was 'The Stig' in the second edition of his autobiography, published following series two, and is now generally acknowledged as having been the first Stig, even by BBC media. The second Stig's identity was revealed, in his own autobiography, as Ben Collins, a professional racing driver who has participated in Formula Three, Indy Lights, sportscars, GT racing, stock cars & V8 Supercars.
The idea for the character was part of host Jeremy Clarkson's and producer Andy Wilman's concept for the relaunched Top Gear show, bringing a new format to the original version of Top Gear which ceased production in 2001. The relaunched show would introduce a live studio audience, the Stig, a racetrack, and madcap stunts. Clarkson is credited by the Sunday Times with having come up with the original idea for the Stig. Clarkson and Wilman wanted to have a professional racing driver as part of the show's cast, but ran into difficulty finding a driver sufficiently adept at speaking on-camera. Clarkson then asked Wilman why the driver needed to speak at all, and the decision was made that the Stig's role would be silent.
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Official Site: BBC
Links: Wikipedia Topgear.com Topgear wiki