Entertainment & Arts

Top Gear: Argentina makes formal complaint to the BBC

Top Gear
Image caption James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson co-present Top Gear

Argentina has expressed discontent to the BBC over its handling of complaints about a Top Gear special filmed in the country.

The show's stars - including Jeremy Clarkson - and crew were forced to abandon filming last month amid angry protests over a car number plate that appeared to refer to the Falklands War.

Argentine ambassador Alicia Castro said the response she received from the BBC's director of television, Danny Cohen, was "inadequate".

Ms Castro also raised the subject of future co-operation with the corporation when it needs to film in the South American country.

In a letter to the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, Ms Castro said Clarkson's behaviour in the country fell "well below" BBC editorial values, accusing them of "covering up".

A Porsche the Top Gear team were using had the registration H982 FKL, which some suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict between the UK and Argentina in 1982.

The BBC and Clarkson have maintained that the plate was a coincidence, saying that no deliberate offence had been intended.

Ms Castro pointed to the good relationship between Argentina and the BBC concerning wildlife programming, saying she hopes it will "continue to blossom" in the future.

"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 co-operation of the Argentine people and government while working on the ground," Ms Castro wrote.

"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 said in her letter to Rona Fairhead, chair of the BBC Trust.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The car's number plate was thought to be a reference to the Falklands War of 1982

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 scientists have unearthed at a site in the deserts of Patagonia.

In response to complaints concerning Mr Clarkson and the number plate incident, Mr Cohen wrote to the Argentinian ambassador stating: "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."

However, Ms Castro said that Mr Cohen's "perfunctory" response showed that he had not investigated the incident in any depth.

She added: "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.'"

The Argentine ambassador also expressed her concerns about the tone and content of an article by Mr Clarkson in the Sunday Times in which he insinuated there was a conspiracy to eject the film crew from the country.

"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 said.

The BBC Trust has said it had received the letter and would be responding in due course.

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