Argentina’s ambassador in London has made a formal complaint to the BBC, accusing Jeremy Clarkson, the host of globally popular TV motoring show Top Gear, of provocative and insulting behaviour during the filming of an episode in Argentina.
Alicia Castro visited the BBC’s offices in person on Monday to allege that Clarkson had evoked memories of the 1982 Falklands war during filming and then made insulting remarks about the Argentine government and people.
Diplomatic relations between Britain and Argentina have been strained ever since the war over the sovereignty of the remote islands, 482 kilometres off the Argentine coast, which they respectively refer to as the Falklands and the Malvinas.
A statement from the Argentine embassy said Castro had called for the BBC to apologise for “Clarkson’s provocative behaviour and offensive remarks towards the government and the Argentine people.”
She presented the BBC’s Director of Television Danny Cohen with a dossier of letters from British citizens, lawmakers and celebrities which she said condemned Clarkson’s behaviour. She said she was awaiting a response.
The BBC said it had received a complaint and would apply its usual processes. The outspoken Clarkson made headlines in the British press earlier this month with vivid accounts of an incident in which he said an angry mob objected to the registration number of a car he was driving through Argentina during filming.
The number plate “H982 FKL” was seen as a reference to the year and location of the war in which over 900 people died. Clarkson and the BBC said the vehicle number was a coincidence.
Clarkson was quoted as saying hundreds of protesters had thrown rocks and bricks at his car. He called it “the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been involved in“, and complained that officials had thrown him out of the country for political reasons. Top Gear has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the most-watched factual television show of all, with episodes broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories.
Clarkson, 54, has been censured in the past by the BBC for using racist language and has courted controversy on several occasions during his time on the light-hearted magazine-style show.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has revived nationalist sentiment over the Falklands in recent years, mounting a vocal campaign to renegotiate sovereignty and prevent London-listed oil and gas firms from drilling near the islands.