Top Gear causes war with Argentina, well almost
Jeremy Clarkson, You’re a BE11 END!
It would seem like the boys over at BBC’s Top Gear car programme have been creating a bit of a stir in Argentina during the filming of a recent ‘Top Gear Special’. Local officials are reported to have escorted the cheeky chaps out of the country after they upset the locals with a number plate affixed to a Porsche 928 driven by Jeremy Clarkson.
According to various reports, Clarkson was initially unaware that the plate was offensive, claiming not to have noticed it until the third day of the ten-day shoot when he received a tweet from an Argentinian car website, claiming that the plate was a reference and reminder of the 1982 Falklands conflict between Britain and Argentina, a painful point in history if you are Argentinian.
Top Gear producer, Andy Wilman, confirmed that Clarkson read the tweet but said that the show’s crew did not change the license plate until 30 September as they had no replacement and it would have been illegal to drive around without a license plate. On a blog post about the incident, Wilman wrote: “The first time we realised the plate could be a problem was on the third night of our shoot in Argentina, when Jeremy was scrolling through Twitter and spotted a comment on one of the auto fan sites next to a photo of the plate. I remember his surprise and concern.”
Despite this, the crew continued with the number plate and drove around areas of Argentina, including El Calafate and Tierra del Fuego. When they reached Ushuaia on 30 September, the plate was changed. It seems, though, that this was too little and very much too late as the Top Gear crew were confronted by an angry mob and forced to flee apparently over the border into Chile.
Writing in the UK tabloid The Sun, Clarkson said: “I didn’t see the car until I arrived in Argentina. Did I notice the plate? Not until three days later. Our producer immediately contacted local government to ask if it would be a problem when we arrived in Ushuaia, a city from which the doomed warship Belgrano sailed. They said ‘yes’ and that we should change it before entering the city.”
Of course Clarkson is well known for being a bit controversial and seems to revel in his ability to upset just about anyone he so chooses, and it would seem that he was on a mission. After the team had fled to safety in Chile, Argentinian police searching the abandoned car found another set of plates spelling ‘BE11 END’
“We know bellend doesn’t mean the end of the bell and is a word used instead to describe the head of the penis which is often employed as an insult in England,” the Police were quoted as saying. “We regard it as another insult to the people of Argentina. We’re sure the Top Gear team were planning another provocation with the number plate in the same way they provoked us with the one referencing the Falklands War.”
According to reports carried in the UK’s Sun and Daily Mirror newspapers, a spokesperson for Top Gear has since confirmed to the two additional ‘BE11 END’ plates, one white and one yellow, were indeed in the car, but said that they were not used in any part of the filming for the BBC2 series. “It was originally intended to be in the programme’s final scene, a game of car football, but that ending has changed. The term ‘bellend’ is a popular one between the Top Gear presenters and in theory refers to the end of the male part,” they added.
In an interview in the Britain’s Sunday Times, Clarkson described how he had bravely hidden under his bed.
“Make no mistake, lives were at risk. Bonnets were banged, abuse was hurled. The police arrived and immediately breathalysed us. Richard Hammond, James May and I bravely hid under the bed in a researcher’s room as protesters went through the hotel looking for us. The car park was filling up. This was starting to get ugly.”
“This was not a jolly jape that went awry,” he wrote. “For once, we did nothing wrong. We had planned a good ending to the show. But thanks to the government’s foolishness, it’s now even better. They threw us out for political capital. Thousands chased crew to the border. Someone could have been killed. My profound thanks to all the people who helped. And to the sensible Argentinians who have apologised.”
It has since been reported that Clarkson and co might have broken license plate laws in Argentina during their filming misadventure but we are sure he doesn’t give a hoot.
images: birminghammail.co.uk, topgear.com