Mike Stevens | Jun 22, 2009

TOP GEAR UK is back on the air - in England, at least - and it hasn't taken long for the boys to stir up a dash of controversy and intrigue.

The first episode of series 13 of the world's most popular car show (by any decent reckoning) saw Michael Schumacher "revealed" as the head beneath The Stig's white helmet (after being invited onto the show to drive the Ferrari FXX).

the-stig_02 Of course, the odds of 'Schuey' filling Stiggy's outfit full-time are pretty slim - even in retirement, the former F1 superstar has a demanding schedule - so the mystery of The Stig's true identity will more than likely remain just that, for some time to come.

The Stig's identity has been a hotly debated topic almost since… it… first appeared on the show. Former F1 steerer Perry McCarthy was eventually unveilled as the the original black-clad Stig, leading to the character catapulting to its demise off the end of an aircraft carrier.

Earlier this year, professional driver Ben Collins was regarded as the most likely new man behind the machine, while Jeremy Clarkson declared only a week later that it was in fact BBC royal reporter Nicholas Witchell - a fairly unlikely story.

For now, viewers have a few options: you can believe that Michael Schumacher has the time (and that BBC has the money) to be The Stig, or that Ben Collins is in fact The Stig (or at least was The Stig), or you can keep believing The Stig is a machine with webbed fingers and a penchant for country and western music.

UPDATE - BBC video added:

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