Top Gear — the motoring show millions love and millions others love to hate — had a hell of a time last week. The hosts and the crew were reportedly chased out of Argentina by an angry mob of protestors after what started as a pretty insensitive joke delivered via a Jeremy Clarkson novelty license plate. Details are beginning to emerge over the conflict, and it sounds downright terrifying.
Image: Hannah Peters / Getty
The Top Gear production circus trekked down from Britain to South America in the last few weeks to shoot the show’s annual Christmas special. The end-of-year travel special is now a hallmark of the BBC2 drive show.
The catalyst for the drama was reported last week, when it was revealed that host and professional thin ice-skater, Jeremy Clarkson, was found to be driving a car with a license plate that carried a coded message about the Falklands conflict in the 1980’s.
The conflict related to control of the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina. The UK and Argentina went to war, and Argentina lost the conflict, with the whole thing still fresh and painful in the minds of Argentinians.
The plate on the Porsche 928 Clarkson was driving read “H982 FKL”, which could be construed as a reference to the 1982 Faulklands conflict. The
The story of the team’s misadventures in Argentina broke last week as the team turned-tail and fled the country, as video emerged of the team outrunning a group of displeased locals.
Clarkson’s Sunday Times column over the weekend paints a pretty vivid picture of what went on, with the host insisting that “for once, we did nothing wrong”.
This was not a jolly jape that went awry. For once, we did nothing wrong.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
Regardless, the hosts, the crew and the production staff were violently chased out of Argentina. In Clarkson’s words:
We were posing for all photographs, and happily accepting requests for autographs. The sun was out. All was calm. We were even referring to the slopes as “radiant.” Certainly there was no suggestion that we had walked into the middle of a war we thought had ended 32 years ago.
The column goes on, revealing how the crew were met by hostile youths and angry members of a local truckers union. Local politicians who had originally allowed the crew to be in Argentina then met up with the hosts and producers, saying they couldn’t guarantee their safety and encouraged them to leave.
As a result, Clarkson has levelled an accusation at the local leaders, saying it was a stunt for political capital.
They threw us out for the political capital. Thousands chased crew to border. Someone could have been killed.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
For what it’s worth, Clarkson also stated that the number plate was a coincidence, and when the team found out the problems it was causing, it was changed.
The number plate WAS a coincidence. When it was pointed out to us, we changed it. As pics in this morning's Mail show.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
On the last day they were there, Clarkson snapped a photo of his Porsche sans plate.
This is my car on its last day in Argentina. Note the plates that everyone says caused offence. pic.twitter.com/mCfncbMa6F— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
The crew has now made it out safely.
All TG crew now safely out of Argentina. I just got back to UK. Horrified to see so many newspapers have the story completely wrong.— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) October 4, 2014
It’s going to be a very interesting Christmas special this year.