Those of you who have been following our Series 22 Sightings and Spoilers post would be aware that the Top Gear team were in Argentina, filming their next epic 1000-mile roadtrip. What you might not be aware of though, is just how spectacularly it has all turned to shit.
The plan was set. The boys were set to drive along the local Route 40, linking the towns of Bariloche to Ushuaia – a distance of serveral hundred miles and a journey which Google Maps failed to calculate. A journey that would take almost two weeks, driving a trio of classic cars – a Porsche 928 GT, a Lotus Esprit V8 and a Ford Mustang Mach 1. All three vehicles were purchased in Britain and shipped out to Argentina specifically for the special. However Jeremy’s Porsche 928 GT was carrying a particular piece of cargo that was set to ignite a shitstorm of epic proportions. Pornographic magazines? Some kind of reference to Argentina’s 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup? No….
It was the license plate. From the first day the cars were spotted by local paparazzo, there were rumblings about the license plate bestowed upon Jeremy’s Porsche – H982 FKL. Some people suggested the plate was used on purpose to refer or otherwise poke fun at the Falklands War of 1982 – a ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British overseas territories in the South Atlantic, in which 649 Argentine and 255 British military personnel perished.
These rumblings increased as Top Gear’s trip progressed, eventually spilling over into an attack by an angry mob of protestors, who shouted “burn their cars” and tried to attack with pickaxe handles. Jeremy Clarkson had the following to say…
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 wanted to drag us out. They were shouting ‘burn their cars, burn them, burn the pirates’. Make no mistake, they 100 per cent wanted to kill us. This is not just some kind of jolly Top Gear jape – this was deadly serious.
The BBC has insisted that the license plate was merely a coincidence and was not chosen deliberately – and this does genuinely appear to be the case. The Porsche 928 in question has worn that same plate for the previous 12 years of its life and Top Gear’s executive producer, Andy Wilman, backed this up by stating that all three cars were purchased by the Top Gear production team – and that “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.”
The attacks which followed, were truly horrendous.
The Top Gear presenters and their film team were pelted with stones by the angry Argentinian mob, extensively damaging their vehicles and even injuring a member of the crew, after a stone thrown by one of the demonstrators hit him in the face. He reportedly refused medical attention after an ambulance was sent to treat him.
The violence they faced – and news that more angry demonstrators were waiting for them a few miles up the road – eventually forced Top Gear to abandon plans to continue towards the Chilean border via the Argentinian city of Rio Grande. Argentinian residents used social media to update each other with the progress of the crew’s movements and send chilling threats. One person wrote: “We’re going to make a barbecue with their meat on the border.”
Speaking after the incident, Argentinian war veteran association member Osvaldo Hilliar, referring to the Falklands by their Spanish name, said: “Our position from the outset was to demand the withdrawal of the TV team from our province, which includes the Malvinas, by 8pm yesterday, with the warning we’d organise a demonstration to reject their provocation if not. What they did was an offence that through no coincidence was committed in the capital of the Malvinas, without any regard to local feeling about this cause. They said they didn’t want to upset anyone but we know the British have lied for the last 200 years. We told them we couldn’t guarantee their security if they didn’t leave.”
So indeed, Top Gear did just that. Vehicles used for the trip were later found abandoned on the roadside and the team were on the first plane back the UK. Jeremy has since gone on the offensive on Twitter, suggesting all the news reports on the trip are false – and that “For the only accurate account of what happened in Argentina, read the Sunday Times tomorrow” so we’ll look forward to reading that one.
He also suggested “We had planned a good ending for the show. But thanks to the government’s foolishness, it’s now even better.”
We can’t wait to see it!