Jeremy Clarkson: Footage of Top Gear team under attack is real, insists presenter

The broadcaster maintained that the assault was not exaggerated for effect

Ben Tufft
Sunday 21 December 2014 13:13
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Jeremy Clarkson has insisted that footage showing the Top Gear team under attack by a mob in Argentina is real and was not exaggerated to boost ratings.

Writing in his Sunday Times column the broadcaster tells of his fear of being confronted by “stone-throwing Argentine thugs”.

Clarkson compares the scene to that in the John Carpenter film, Assault on Precinct 13, where a police station is besieged by armed gang members.

“You get the sense that there’s a never-ending supply of — let’s call them ‘youths’ — coming out of the darkness, hurling anything they can lay their hands on,” he wrote of the assault.

It occurred in Tolhuin in the Tierra del Fuego region, as the Top Gear convoy attempted to travel through the town.

The Argentinian ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro, has claimed that Clarkson’s account is “fabricated” and cars were set on fire by the show’s team to obtain better ratings.

But Clarkson maintained that, for once, the events unfolded without provocation and the choice of the inflammatory registration plate, H982 FKL, a reference to the Falklands War, was not intentional.

Following the attack, the team of 29 decided to flee the country and travel to Chile.

The footage of the violence will be shown on 27 December as part of the two-part Top Gear Patagonia special on BBC2.

In a departure from usual form, the video will be shown without the customary horseplay and risqué humour, for which the show is famed.

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Andy Wilman, Top Gear’s executive producer, told the Sunday Times: “We’ve been very careful to present it as it happened rather than put an agenda or spin on it.

“Viewers will make up their own mind.”

Following repeated gaffes and controversies Clarkson has been told that he is on his final warning from the BBC.

Some of his worst blunders have included saying "slope" when filming a Top Gear special in Burma, which Clarkson has said was a reference to the bridge, rather than the person on it.

Clarkson was also accused of using the n-word on camera, when reciting the nursery rhyme "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe".

The latter almost cost Clarkson his job and he was forced to upload a video with a grovelling apology, he said that he did everything he could not to use the word.

It was a rare sign of contrition from a man who is usually happy to revel in the media storm he creates.

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