“Someone could have been killed”- Clarkson
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has blamed the Argentine Government for the latest incident that befell the popular BBC motoring show.
It was reported last Friday that Clarkson, and his co-presenters, Richard Hammond and James May as well as their film crew, were thrown out of the country and pelted with stones after resident and war veterans claimed that the license plate of Clarkson’s Porsche 928, reading H982FKL, made reference to the Faklands War of 1982.
They also insisted that the digits on the plates of Hammond's Ford Mustang Mach I and May’s Lotus Esprit, which read 249 and 646, were too close to the 255 Britons and 649 Argentines killed during the conflict.
The incident took place near the end of a 2 160 km trek from the ski resort of Bariloche to the southern port of Ushuaia, having gone unnoticed for most of the trip.
Responding to allegations that the number plate on his car was put there on purpose, Clarkson, having arrived back in the UK, tweeted on Saturday, "The number plate WAS a coincidence. When it was pointed out to us, we changed it."
"This was not a jolly jape that went awry. For once, we did nothing wrong," he added.
"We had planned a good ending for the show. But thanks to the government's foolishness, it's now even better".
Writing in yesterday’s Sunday Times, Clarkson said that he was under no impression that they had walked into a trap and that the Argentinians wanted to kill them, accusing the government of giving them permission to enter the country, "so they could make political capital from ejecting us when we arrived".
"Our producers tried to explain that we were there to film at a ski resort and then to host a game of car football in the city – England vs. Argentina. The bottom of the World Cup we were going to call it.
"They were not listening. 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".
He continues, "And that when they arrived things would definitely turn nasty. Our local fixers advised that we stop filming immediately, leave the cars and go to a nearby hotel".
A video posted on YouTube shows the film crew and presenters under a police escort being pummelled by stones and bricks.
Clarkson said that once at the hotel, an angry mob began gathering outside, leaving him, Hammond and May to "bravely hid(e) under the beds in a researcher’s room while protesters went through the hotel looking for us.
"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," The Independant newspaper quoted him as saying.
It was at this point that State representatives told them to leave the country.
"I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan but this was the most terrifying thing I've ever been involved in," Clarkson said.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, 29 members of the crew had to undertake a six hour drive to the Chilean border whilst being persuaded by residents and having bricks hurled at them. The vehicles were left at the road side with local media reporting a crew member as saying, "We’re leaving them here; we don’t want any more problems. Set fire to them if you like".
Top Gear Executive Producer, Andy Wilman, has denied that the plates were fitted especially for the trip, saying, "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".
Speaking to local media, the regional government minister for the region of Tierra del Fuego, where the incident took place, Mariano Plecit, said, "You have to take in to account that the Malvinas (Spanish name for the Falklands) belong to Tierra del Fuego and the city of Ushuaia is the capital of the Malvinas. The licence plate number on the car was a provocation and a very big offence in all of Tierra del Fuego".
Ushuaia Mayor, Federico Sciurano, has however rejected the chaos with the Mail quoting him as saying, "We have committed a great mistake with the violence. That never resolves anything and the impact it was going to have was not taken in to account.
"Obviously I don't agree with violence and smashing windows. I believe the people responsible made a big mistake. I would have preferred it if nothing had been damaged".
CAPTION: The controversial Porsche 928 that has resulted in the ejection of the presenters and crew of the smash-hit BBC motoring show, Top Gear, from Argentina last week. Residents have stated that the plate references the 1982 Falklands War. IMAGE sourced from the Birmingham Mail twitter page.
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