Britain's Top Gear Show Not So Top in Argentina After Falklands Gaffe

Grafitti en la ciudad de Ushuaia - Imagen de Laura Schneider

Graffiti in Ushuaia city, Argentina. “English pirate ships are prohibited from mooring.” Photo: Laura Schneider

Since Argentinian troops landed on the Falklands Islands 32 years ago and sparked a war with the United Kingdom in a bid to recover a territory that was under the South American country's control prior to 1833, relations between the two countries have typically been tense

On November 19 the Argentinian parliament passed a law which establishes that all public transportation including sea, land, air transport is obliged to use the legend: “Las Malvinas [The Falklands] son Argentinas” (The Malvinas are Argentine). The fundamental idea behind the law is to strengthen the country's sense of history.

Among islanders the feeling is often different. Kris Thorsen, a Falkland resident recently presented a petition that prohibits the flying of the Argentinian flag on island territory as he claims it generates discomfort among the population. The country's main civilian airport carries a sign that advises all arriving passengers not to use any Argentine insignia in Falkland territory. 

But it was the recent and highly controversial visit to Argentina of the British television program Top Gear — a laddish show broadcasted by the BBC and targeted at fast car lovers — that really re-opened old wounds for for many Argentinians.

Central to the controversy over the show's visit was the fact that one of the cars used by Top Gear bore the registration plate H982FLK, which provoked an angry reaction from some locals.

A principios de octubre, los integrantes del programa de la BBC fueron apedreados cuando recorrían la Patagonia con automóviles de lujo. El problema se generó porque el Porsche que utilizó Jeremy Clarkson, el histórico presentador del show de autos más visto del mundo, tenía la matrícula “H982FLK”. El nombre alude inevitablemente a la guerra que enfrentó al Reino Unido con la Argentina en las Islas Malvinas: 82 coincide con el año del conflicto (1982) y FLK, con el nombre del archipiélago en inglés, Falklands.

In early October, members of the BBC had stones thrown at them when they roamed  about Patagonia in luxury cars. The problem arose because the Porsche used by Jeremy Clarkson, host of the show, had a license plate “H982FLK”. The name inevitably alludes to the war between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands: 82 coincides with the year of the conflict (1982) and FLK, is the name of the archipelago in English, Falklands.

Jeremy Clarkson, the show's host, has a reputation for being outspoken and politically incorrect, but insisted via Twitter: 

In another, more sarcastic tweet, Clarkson thanked the Argentine government:

The program will be shown on the BBC on December 27 and 28.

It is worth recalling that during the 2014 World Cup, FIFA fined the AFA (Argentine Football Association) for displaying an Argentine flag emblazoned “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” during the team's matches in the tournament. And back at the Olympics in 2012 a video filmed in the Falkland Islands and made by the Argentine president's office sparked controversy for promoting the team under the slogan To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil.

It would be surprising if the airing of the show this weekend did not cause yet another round of controversy.


  • Sabe_Moya

    Argentina? What is that? Does anyone care what this Argentina thinks or does?

  • Sabe_Moya

    ¿Los Falklands son argentinas? Cuando los chanchos vuelen.

  • Paula2

    The Islands were first claimed by Britain in 1690 before Argentina even existed as a country and have been under British Authority since then. Except for a brief military occupation by the Spanish in the 18th Century and 2 very brief military occupations by Argentina they have been under peaceful British control. Argentina signed a peace treaty with Britian in 1850 acknowledging there were no matters of dispute between the nations. Argentina moan about Britian militarising the Islands but on the 2 brief occasions when they occupied the islands they sent an unelected military governors along with ill disciplined occupational forces larger than the islands civilian population. The people of the Islands want nothing to do with their Argentine oppressors. If Argentina wants a peaceful relationship then they should follow Obamas example and drop the sanctions and drop the rhetoric. International law is quite clear, all territories registered as NSGTs at the UN have the right to self determination without exception.

    • Steve Nichols

      Right on. Despite their claim, ThevFalkland Islands do not belong to Argentina. The island belong to their inhabitants. Argentina; meddling countries and the Pope need to respect the choice made by all but one Falklander to exist as a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

    • Paul

      Well I guess every territory that any English man or woman touches becomes part of the British empire. Cool ! I hope your brains makes sense that colonization, poverty and slavery are not the right tools or most valuable for a good society.

      • britbob

        Colonisation was outlawed by the UN Charter in 1945. Quite right. International law in the form of 4 UN ICJ Advisory Opinions and 1 Judgment all confirm or state, ‘that the right to self-determination is applicable to all non-self-governing territories.’ This means that it is solely up to the Islsnders to determine how and by whom they are governed. The islanders have chosen ‘free association’ with the UK which is another mode of recognising decolonisation.

      • AmeRican*51*Luis Arroyo

        What part of “The Brittish were there before Argentina even existed” do you not understand?

  • britbob

    Argentina has never ‘legally possessed the Falkland Islands.’ Using occupation through successful continuous settlement, conquest and subjugation, 1850 Convention of Peace Settlement, extinctive prescription and the right to self-determination all means that Argentina does not have a valid sovereignty claim. A claim without a legal case is an illegitimate claim and worthless. And before anyone rabbits on about decolonisation; decolonisation means exactly that, and not re-colonisation.

  • Guest

    With 7.5% of unemployment in the country, the Argentinian elite would be interested to divert people’s attention from real problems, kind of : You guys, don’t look at your corrupted government, you look at British pirates occupying Malvines (Falklands, indeed).

  • Roger Lorton

    Your very first paragraph destroys any further credibility – the Falklands were not under Argentine control prior to 1833. They have been British since 1765

    • Guest

      Mrs Schneider being an Argentinian, what else could she have written? I mean about who controlled the Falklands.

      • AmeRican*51*Luis Arroyo

        Exactly. Her bias shows.
        As for those here whining about European or English “aggressions ” against Latino Argentina. I shall remind that Argentine people are very white Hispanic type of Nordic Mediterranean mix.(Spanish,Italian,German,Irish,English) Mesti zos are a minority. West Europeans make up 90%. That’s why so many Nazis settled there after WW2.

  • mart2mart .

    Errrr……just who did the Argentinians claim “their” land from?…..check history before commenting you imbeciles.

  • Paulo Oscar Chermont de Mirand

    Want to do good business? Buy an argentinian for how much IT is worth, and sell it by the price IT thinks its worth… Millionaire….

    Seriously, how can someone be so patetic to declare war against someone much stronger and capable, lose, and be offended when noted???

    Like i said, 649 deaths and 300 suicides show how despicable argentinians can be.

    You should have bombed buenos aires.


    After all, what the fuck is malvinas??? Nobody but half a dozen maricones call that island by this patetic name.

  • His Excellency

    Why the English? Why not the Welsh or the Scottish or the Northern Irish? The UK’s full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, not the “Kingdom of England”, which ceased to exist in 1707 when England (and Wales) merged with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Anyway, the Falklands are British. Residents of the Falklands are British citizens and wish for the Falklands to remain a British territory. Argentina should drop their illegitimate claim to the islands and focus on more important things, like improving the economy and stopping inflation.

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