Argentina has hinted that it may refuse to cooperate with the BBC over future television films following an “inadequate” response from the corporation to its complaints against Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear programme.
Mr Clarkson had infuriated the Argentine government by suggesting that Top Gear was given permission to film in the country simply to make political capital out of ejecting the crew following a row over a car number plate – H982 FKL – which could have been a reference to the 1982 Falklands War.
The Argentine ambassador Alicia Castro has written to the BBC Trust complaining about the response she has received from Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, and raised the subject of cooperation with the corporation when it needs to film in the South American country.
“There is a record of excellent cooperation between the BBC and Argentina, with the BBC Earth’s Walking Giants and BBC Patagonia being only the most recent examples of production teams that have been enjoying the hospitality and full cooperation of the Argentine people and Government while working on the ground,” Ms Castro writes.
“I am sure you cherish this relationship as much as we do, and we hope that it will continue to blossom in the future,” she says in her letter to Rona Fairhead, the chair of the BBC Trust.
Walking Giants, presented by Sir David Attenborough, is a new one-hour documentary telling the story of the 200 fossils from seven giant dinosaurs that have scientists have unearthed in an extraordinary fossil site in the deserts of Patagonia.
In reply to Ms Castro’s complaint over Mr Clarkson and the number-plate incident, Mr Cohen wrote to the Argentine ambassador stating: “I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that his was a deliberate act.”
However, Ms Castro said that Mr Cohen’s “perfunctory” response shows that he has not investigated the questions in any depth.
“Mr Cohen merely reassures us that it was not deliberate. We are not prepared to accept this as a full and adequate response to this supposed ‘coincidence’,” Ms Castro says.
“We believe that Mr Clarkson’s behaviour fell well below BBC’s editorial values an standards: his account of what happened when his team were in Argentina was biased and false – apparently in an attempt to cover-up the poor behaviour of the BBC team making the Top Gear programme,” she adds.
The Argentine ambassador says she is particularly concerned by the tone and content of an article by Mr Clarkson in the Sunday Times where he insinuated that there was a conspiracy to embarrass and eject the film crew from Tierra del Fuego Province.
“This article is not written by an autonomous individual, as Mr Cohen would have it, but rather by an employee of the BBC, commenting on the making of a BBC programme,” Ms Castro says.Reuse content