Jeremy Clarkson and the boys of the “Top Gear” team may have unintentionally sparked a national campaign to boycott the popular British television series in Argentina. The problems started when war veterans of the South American country noticed a “controversial” registration number plate on one of the vehicles they were driving while filming an episode. Local newspapers claim that a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL was apparently a jab at the Falklands War between the two countries in 1982.
Clarkson and the team were forced to flee Argentina after locals pelted them with stones. Several high-powered cars and the infamous Porsche were abandoned at a police checkpoint on route to Chile after they were bombarded with stones near the town of Tolhuin. Clarkson revealed in a series of tweets after arriving back in the UK that the number plate was a coincidence. He said the crew were chased to the border “by thousands” before state representatives ordered them to leave the country.
He wrote on Twitter:
“All TG crew now safely out of Argentina. I just got back to UK.”
“The number plate WAS a coincidence. When it was pointed out to us, we changed it.”
“And these war veterans we upset. Mostly they were in their 20s. Do the maths.”
“They threw us out for the political capital. Thousands chased crew to border. Someone could have been killed.”
“This was not a jolly jape that went awry. For once, we did nothing wrong.”
A crew member told The Telegraph:
“We’re leaving the cars, we don’t want more problems. Burn them if you want but we’re getting out of here.”
Argentine veterans of the war allegedly had given the show’s crew an ultimatum to leave the country or “face the consequences.”
A spokesman for the BBC told ITV:
“We’re pleased the team is safe and would like to thank all of those who have helped. As the executive producer has made clear, the number plate issue is a very unfortunate coincidence.”
Speaking The Sun, Clarkson said that they removed the number plate when they initially saw people complaining on Twitter about the number plate. The angry mob simply refused to back down, so the group “made a break” for their hotel in Ushuaia.Clarkson said:
“The mob just descended on the hotel and encircled us. State representatives came and ordered us out of the country,”
“I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan but this was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
“There were hundreds of them. They were hurling rocks and bricks at our cars. They were trying to attack us with pickaxe handles.”
“They were shouting: ‘Burn their cars, burn them, burn the pirates’. I am convinced the mob was state organised.”
Andy Wilman, Top Gear’s executive producer, has also insisted that the issue was merely an unfortunate coincidence, and that Clarkson was not intending to cause political problems.