Top Gear is no stranger to controversy. However, the wildly popular car show’s upcoming “Patagonia Special” may be the most eventful in the program’s exceptionally eventful history.
The show and its trio of hosts made waves around the world in October after being driven out of their filming location in southern Argentina by what they described as an “angry mob.” After months of anticipation, the episode is finally set to air and fans will get to see the show’s mass exodus for themselves.
So what caused all of this trouble? At the heart of the controversy is the licence plate on the car driven by host Jeremy Clarkson.
The blue Porsche 928’s plates — which read “H982 FKL” — were reportedly seen as a reference to the 1982 Falkland conflict between Great Britain and Argentina.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the angry mob confronted the BBC crew at a hotel in the town of Ushuaia. During the confrontation, the show’s hosts — Clarkson, along with James May and Richard Hammond — concealed themselves “under a researcher’s mattress.”
After the initial confrontation, the show’s hosts and the female members of the crew were ushered onto a chartered plane and flown to safety in Buenos Aires. However, 29 members of the “Top Gear” crew stayed behind and were forced to escape the mob by driving the convoy of production vehicles to safety in nearby Chile.
Along the way, the convoy and its police escort were met by roadside crowds hurtling rocks and shouting profanities at the cars.
The Falklands War is a particularly touchy subject for Ushuaia. The city was the last port for the Argentine battle cruiser General Belgrano before it was sunk by British submarine’s torpedo’s during the conflict — taking the lives of more than 300 sailors. Controversy over the sinking of the warship and ownership of the Falklands Islands still lingers more than 30 years later.
Fans of the show will be treated to the prospect of the dynamic trio’s 1600-mile journey to the southern most city in the world.
In addition to Clarkson’s offending Porsche 928 GT manual, expect to see Hammond in his obligatory muscle car — in the case a classic Mustang — as well as James May in a bright red Lotus Esprit.
The epic-ness of the special could not be contained in just one episode. Producers have decided to split the special into two parts, with the first scheduled for December 27th on BBC2 and BBC2 HD. The second will air the following night.
Those outside of the U.K. may have to wait bit. No word yet when the episode will hit the U.S.
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