A question asked all over the internet is the identity of the Stig. Here on the Real Deal we can give you the lowdown as usual.
The reason they have been able to keep it such a closely guarded secret is because there have been more than one. There have been two official Stig’s on the show, while various other Stig’s have made appearances for particular episodes. The whole point of the Stig character is that Top Gear can use who is available at the time without explaining the changes.
The Stig is sometimes just the best driver available when Top Gear need a car testing. This way, they then need not be famous celebrities. They can be genuinely talented, yet unknown drivers who work cheaper than big celebrities do. There have been two main Stigs.
First there was “Black Stig” – so called because he wore black overalls and helmet (not because he was black). This Stig was used for the first two series of Top Gear. He was then killed off at the start of the third series when he was shown driving Jaguar XJS off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and landing in the sea. Black Stig was Perry McCarthy, a former Formula 1 driver and test driver for the Benetton, Arrows and Williams teams. This was disclosed in his book entitled ‘Flat Out, Flat Broke.’
There is a clause in the Stig’s contract that should his identity be exposed (either through his own willingness or via a member of the Top Gear staff), he has to be fired. Black Stig was dropped via this clause.
Next came the current “White Stig” clad in Alpine Star driving gear. That is the first clue. White Stig is mostly Ben Collins. Ben Collins is a (Alpine Star sponsored) Champion Racing Driver with success in Motor Sport from Formula Three and Le Mans Sportscars to GT and NASCAR. Following the accident involving Richard Hammond in September 2006, the Health & Safety Executive report into the event recorded that Collins had “worked closely with Top Gear as a high performance driver and consultant” and had prepared a briefing for Richard Hammond preceding the event. A flash photo of The Stig recently tweaked and published by The Sun, managed to penetrate his visor, and most people agree the eyes were those of Ben Collins.
There have been several other Stigs on Top Gear. One introduced in a US episode as “the Stig’s American cousin” and nicknamed “Big Stig.” Another introduced in an episode shot in Botswana as “The Stig’s African cousin.” (This Stig was black, wore only Puma shoes, a loincloth and the white helmet.) A further one was introduced as Stig’s lorry driving cousin “Rig Stig,” when they were power sliding an HGV tractor unit. Further Stig’s appear in foreign produced Top Gear shows.