BBC Won't Apologize to Argentina Over 'Top Gear' Controversy


The show's hosts and crew were forced to flee the country after a license plate caused anger and the ambassador demanded an apology

The BBC's director of television Danny Cohen has rejected calls for the U.K. public broadcaster to apologize for a recent incident in Argentina when Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson and the TV show's crew were forced to leave the country.

Earlier in the month, while filming in Patagonia, Clarkson sparked controversy by driving a Porsche 928 with the license plate H982 FKL, which many in the country saw as a reference to the Falkland Islands War between the U.K. and Argentina in 1982. There were angry scenes when a group of war veterans protested outside the crew's hotel, with stones reportedly being thrown. The Top Gear team eventually cut its stay short and crossed the border into Chile. Clarkson later described the incident as "the most terrifying thing I've ever been involved in."

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But in a letter to the Argentinean ambassador to the U.K., printed in The Guardian on Friday, Cohen said there was no evidence to suggest that the license plate was deliberate.

"I am very aware that some have questioned whether the number plates were in some way a prank. I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that this was a deliberate act," he said.

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Cohen added that the Top Gear episode filmed in Argentina would air as planned. "We will ensure that these programs are a fair representation of what took place throughout their stay," he wrote.

Clarkson, who has been involved in repeated incidents that led to accusations of racism over the past few years on Top Gear, wrote in a column for The Sun in May that he had been given one last chance by the BBC.

"Even the angel Gabriel would struggle to survive with that hanging over his head," he wrote. "It's inevitable that one day, someone, somewhere will say that I've offended them, and that will be that."