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Well hot diggety gosh darn damn. As comebacks go, that was John Travolta and Jenson Button riding Mickey Rourke round to Take That’s house wasn’t it? Well, something like that.

Watch exclusive behind the scenes video

A few series ago there used to be a theory in the Top Gear office that people would forget when the new series was on and nobody would tune in, so the first programme would be a gentle start, followed by a more explosive show 2. Not any more, which is why tonight’s series opener hit the ground running as fast as its little legs would carry it.

The train race might not have been the openly daft oh-no-it’s-all-on-fire moment that many expect from Top Gear but everyone on the show was quietly pleased with the way it turned out. And, as ever with these things, yes the race was completely real and run totally in real time. Some of the pretty shots of the car and bike that make the whole film look nicer were picked up the next day, so as not to spoil Richard or James’s chances.

Of course, epic aerial shots of a fantastic old steam train are all well and good but they were rather overshadowed by the extraordinary moment when The Stig took his helmet off. Whatever it looked like on telly, that was nothing to the insanely electrified atmosphere in the studio (watch this for yourself in our exclusive behind the scenes video) as the audience went quide liderally NUTS to see what the man in white was keeping under his normally unremovable lid.

Just two questions remain. Firstly, was Michael Schumacher really The Stig? And secondly, where did Jeremy get that shirt from, and could he promise never to go back there?

Seen our exclusive behind the scenes video yet? There’s also a part two - plus a second interview with Michael Schumacher in the TG production office before the show recording. And check back tomorrow for more exclusive clips…

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