I'm a big Top Gear fan. I've seen every episode, aside from the very first season, before James May joined the show, and that's only because those particular episodes are virtually impossible to find. As a longtime fan of the show, I've come to terms with its loose relationship with reality and its utter lack of political correctness.
"Our local fixers advised that we stop filming immediately, leave the cars on the gradients and go to a nearby hotel." – Jeremy Clarkson
Considering that, I wasn't surprised by last week's story about the show being chased out of Argentina, simply because, deep down, I expect nothing less than for Clarkson, Hammond and May to antagonize any country that's lost a war with the UK. I suspected things in this particular case were being blown out of proportion, and that it was simply a ploy for good television, of which TG's Christmas Specials always seem to deliver (India aside). After all, this is a show that's never shied away from manufacturing entertaining TV.
Based on Clarkson's telling in last weekend's Sunday Times column, though, this latest fiasco was anything but staged. Scroll down below for the rest of the story.
While initial reports pointed towards the license plate of Clarkson's Porsche 928 as the source of the furor, the TV host reports that the "H982 FKL" plate, which apparently reads 1982 Falklands if you squint, came with the car and that a Twitter follower pointed out the potential issue while the hosts were still in Chile.
"When we arrived in Tierra del Fuego the car had no plate at all on the front and a meaningless jumble of letters and numbers on the back. And no, it wasn't W3WON. Which it would have been if I'd been trying to ruffle feathers," Clarkson wrote in the Times.
"Some protesters had arrived and were keen to let everyone know they were unhappy with our visit," Clarkson wrote of the initial problems. "They were angry. They said that they were not violent but that a group of men from the local truckers' trade union were on their way. And that when they arrived things would definitely turn nasty. Our local fixers advised that we stop filming immediately, leave the cars on the gradients and go to a nearby hotel."
The team did just that, but were confronted at their hotel by "a gang of people," that were allegedly veterans of the war, which ended 32 years ago, although according to JC, this "seemed unlikely as most were in their twenties and thirties."
"Plainly they had given us permission to visit simply so they could make political capital from ejecting us when we arrived." – Jeremy Clarkson
The mob went through the hotel looking for the trio of hosts, who Clarkson willingly admits were hiding under a bed in a crew member's room. He then goes on to allege that the entire bit with the protesters and mobs was a staged political power play. "Government officials then stepped in saying we were no longer welcome in the city, that our safety could not be guaranteed and that we needed to leave Argentina immediately. Plainly they had given us permission to visit simply so they could make political capital from ejecting us when we arrived."
While the hosts and the female cast members managed to escape and get back to Buenos Aires, where they then caught a flight back to Great Britain, according to Clarkson, 29 crew members were forced to trek through "ambushes" in order to reach the safety of Chile.
Clarkson ends, in a very Clarkson-like manner, by thanking "politicians and their rent-a-mob cohorts," for an even better ending to this year's Christmas Special. We can't wait to see it.