Top Gear team leaves Argentina amid number plate controversy

Claim vehicle with number plate referring to 1982 Falkands/Malvinas war used by BBC team

Top Gear presenters James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. The cast and crew of the show have flown out of Argentina after facing protests from politicians and army veterans for using a car whose number plate apparently referred to the Falklands/Malvinas War. File photograph:  Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Top Gear presenters James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. The cast and crew of the show have flown out of Argentina after facing protests from politicians and army veterans for using a car whose number plate apparently referred to the Falklands/Malvinas War. File photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

 

The cast and crew of BBC’s Top Gear had to abandon their cars at the roadside and flee Argentina after reportedly being pelted with stones by an angry crowd.

The attack happened after it emerged they were using a vehicle with a number plate apparently referring to the war over the Falkands/Malvinas in 1982.

That vehicle — a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL which some people suggested could refer to the conflict over the disputed islands — 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 programme has already run into problems this year, with one edition found to be in breach of British TV watchdog Ofcom’s broadcasting code for the use of a racially offensive term during a two-part special filmed in Burma, following a complaint from a viewer.

And presenter Jeremy Clarkson apologised after unbroadcast footage emerged in which he appeared to use a racist slur, although he denied actually saying it.

The team from the BBC2 show are in South America filming a special on a remote highway passing through Chile and Argentina.

A story about their visit in the Patagonian daily newspaper Diario Jornada is headlined: “Top Gear is filming in Patagonia and there’s controversy.”

The paper says: “Even though the BBC authorities asked the popular presenter Jeremy Clarkson to behave himself during his time in Argentina, he chose to use the provocative number plate H982 FKL on his Porsche, in reference to 1982 Falklands (Malvinas).”

But 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.”

PA

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