TV PRESENTER Jeremy Clarkson has described the moment he was pelted with rocks and chased out of Argentina as “the most terrifying thing I have ever been involved in”.
Clarkson claims furious state officials threw the cast and crew of Top Gear out of the South American country after he was filmed with a car number plate that appeared to refer to the Falklands War.
The BBC presenter was filmed in a car with the number plate H982 FKL while recording an episode of the TV series. The plate was interpreted by protesters as a reference to the 1982 Falklands War between Argentina and the UK.
After returning to Britain yesterday morning, the presenter claimed on Twitter that “thousands” of people chased the crew from Patagonia, where they were filming, to the border with Chile.
“They threw us out for the political capital,” he tweeted to his 3.89 million followers. “Thousands chased the crew to the border. Someone could have been killed.”
Speaking to a newspaper at the weekend, Clarkson claimed a mob shouted “Burn their cars” and tried to attack them with pickaxe handles.
He said: “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.
“This is not just some kind of jolly Top Gear jape – this was deadly serious.”
BBC bosses claimed yesterday the number plate was a coincidence and not chosen deliberately, but it led to protests in Argentina, including a demonstration by a group of war veterans outside the hotel used by the show team.
Clarkson said: “We knew absolutely nothing about the number plate, it was just an unbelievable coincidence.”
The programme’s executive producer, Andy Wilman, was quick to back his star’s “unbelievable coincidence” line and a spokesman for the BBC said it was a “very unfortunate coincidence”.
He 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.”
The team from the BBC2 show were in South America filming a special on a remote highway passing through Chile and Argentina.
The programme has already run into problems this year, with one edition found to be in breach of Ofcom’s broadcasting code for the use of a racially offensive term during a two-part special filmed in Burma.
And presenter Jeremy Clarkson apologised after broadcast footage emerged in which he appeared to use the “N word”.
After returning to the UK yesterday morning, Clarkson said someone could have been killed during the incident in South America. In a series of tweets, he wrote: “All TG crew now safely out of Argentina. I just got back to UK.
“The number plate WAS a coincidence. When it was pointed out to us, we changed it. And these war veterans we upset. Mostly they were in their 20s. Do the maths.
“They threw us out for the political capital. Thousands chased crew to border. Someone could have been killed.
“This was not a jolly jape that went awry. For once, we did nothing wrong.”
He continued: “We had planned a good ending for the show. But thanks to the government’s foolishness, it’s now even better.”