For a change, it isn’t anything he said:
Top Gear‘s crew has had to abandon their cars at the roadside and flee Argentina after being pelted with stones. The incident happened after it emerged they were using a vehicle with a number plate that apparently refers to the Falklands War.
A Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982, was among those abandoned. BBC bosses have said the number plate was merely a coincidence and was not chosen deliberately, but it led to protests in Argentina, including a demonstration by a group of war veterans who protested outside the hotel used by the show team.
The executive producer of Top Gear, Andy Wilman, said: “Top Gear production purchased three cars for a forthcoming programme; to suggest that this car was either chosen for its number plate, or that an alternative number plate was substituted for the original, is completely untrue.”
Even if Wilman is dissembling about the license plate … just how flipping sensitive do you have to be to object to a sort-of abbreviation, in a foreign language, in the characters on a license plate? Who would ordinarily notice or care what the license plate may or may not hint at, unless someone is busy trying to stir up trouble? That said, Top Gear thrives on controversy, so it’s quite possible that they hoped they’d draw some attention, but probably not to the extent of being forced out of the country.
Update: Clarkson is now accusing the Argentine government of setting a trap for the Top Gear film crew.
The presenter was said to have infuriated locals by driving through South America in a Porsche with the numberplate H982 FKL, seen as a goading reference to the 1982 Falklands conflict.
However, Clarkson said the plate was “not the issue” — he claimed it was an unfortunate coincidence and that he removed it two days into the trip — and blamed the state government for orchestrating an ambush by mobs armed with pickaxe handles, paving stones and bricks.
“There is no question in my mind that we walked into a trap,” Clarkson said.
“We were English (apart from one Aussie camera guy and a Scottish doctor” and that was a good enough reason for the state government to send 29 people into a night filled with rage and flying bricks.”
He claimed the crew were “plainly herded into an ambush” and said: “Make no mistake, lives were at stake.”
The team were confronted at their hotel by a group claiming to be war veterans.
“Richard Hammond, James May and I bravely hid under the beds in a researcher’s room while protesters went through the hotel looking for us,” Clarkson said.
They then fled by plane to Buenos Aires — having “rounded up the girls” on the team — leaving the rest of their crew behind.
The crew were forced to make a gruelling six-hour trek to the Chilean border, abandoning the Porsche and their camera equipment at the side of the road.