It’s the Top Gear Christmas special and it is actually being broadcast at the right time this year and not being used to spread out the normal programming. The Patagonia special was to take the 3 guys thought southern Argentina with their chosen V8 engine cars.
Get Me To The Hospital
Jeremy chose a Porsche 928, a vehicle he said was close to his heart, as some years ago whilst testing one, he got the phone call that his father was ill and he needed to be there at the Hospital in Sheffield. The car got him there with 30 minutes to spare with his father before he passed away. Jeremy believes another vehicle may not have given him a chance to say goodbye to his father.
Richard had no surprises when he turned up with a 1971 Ford Mustang. The small guy always likes to drive big American cars and this was no exception. UK registered in an ugly green with one of those “music horns”.
The biggest surprise was with James May who turned up in a Lotus Elise, rather than the safer Merc’s or Volvos he would normally choose, especially as the Elise had the worst reputation for reliability.
The start of the programme was probably the most boring of all the specials and it never really delivered in terms of entertainment we often see on these mega trails. There were times you felt that the 32 production crew sent them into a field next to the road, just to show some sort of made up entertainment. This wasn’t Vietnam, Africa or even USA specials. Sure there was beautiful scenery but it seemed to lack the depth of feeling other trips had.
It Is Serious
There was a more serious ending to the programme, something beyond what anyone could have foreseen, that cut short filming time by 3 days and what in the end became the legacy of this special.
It appears that Jeremy’s Porsche had the number plate H982 FKL a reference to the Falklands was of 1982. Someone had noticed the plate and it was tweeted across Argentina and by the time they got to Ushuaia the most Southernly point a gang of ex servicemen were there and the crew found themselves hostage in a hotel. What followed was a convoy of a the crew being led by police out of the country. In one town they were pelted with rocks leaving substantial damage to all the cars and very soon the Porsche, Lotus and Mustang had to be abandoned.
Jeremy Clarkson’s reputation of stirring up trouble would have inflamed this inexcusable attack but in interviews afterwards, he swears on his children’s lives, this was an oversight and not planned in any way. He has not been afraid to face to criticism in the past, so there seems no reason not to believe him, any planned activity would have been leaked anyway.
We Come In Peace
Ironically the actual purpose of going to Southern Argentina was to arrange a car football match and build bridges. But the power of social media delivered a different message that brought the worst of Argentina out to the world. Had the number plate been planned, even many in Britain would have seen this a step too far. It seems that not everyone in Argentina was in dispute, as the team have received many positive messages of which Jeremy praised and thanked the people for.
A Different Ending
The programme ended differently than any before. Instead of praising their chosen cars and complimenting the country that had been their hosts, we saw viscous people possibly prepared to kill and a final film sequence and what was supposed to be a joke of Butch Cassidy escaping from a barn into gun fire, that wasn’t that funny. The show stopped becoming “3 lads having fun in 3 cars” and became a something that will only inflame more tension between the 2 countries.
Back To The Cars
The conclusion must be that the Mustang was as expected, the Porsche should have done better, and the Lotus was by far the best car, delivering more on most of the challenges.