​Top Gear producer denies Argentina number plate wrongdoing

Top Gear Live - Croatia
Goran Jakus /Pixsell

Top Gear has always been a show that courts controversy, though the crew's latest trip to Argentina has done that even more successfully than normal, following questions over the number plates used.

Show producer Andy Wilman, however, has written an article vehemently denying any claims that the number plates used were deliberately chosen to provoke a response from Argentinians; "It's just nonsense beyond belief," he says.

Wilman writes: "As it happens, we didn't put that number plate on deliberately – Jeremy has said so in print, James has said so on the radio, and Richard will be saying so on the radio again next week. Sadly I doubt their words will make one iota of difference to the newspapers, because our guilt is a lot more newsworthy than our innocence."

The producer adds that searching for the car by number plate wouldn't have been possible either. "The plate was a genuine plate, remember, not one we made up. So our researchers would have got on the phone to the DVLA, asked them if such a car existed, and then when the DVLA came back and said, "There is, actually, on a Porsche 928," we'd have then asked for the details of the owner.

"At this point the DVLA would have refused, because that would be a contravention of the Data Protection Act (and they don't pass on requests the other way to specific owners). So let's say we persevere and obtain, probably illegally, the details of the owner of that car.

"Then what? Then we would have to knock on his door and try and persuade him to sell us his car."

Wilman goes on to say that there were only two or three Porsche 928 GTs were up for sale when they were looking: "The odds of one having the number plate we "wanted" are millions to one. The plate was genuine, remember, not one we had made up."

The eldest person of those arranging logistics for the show was also only six when the Falklands war broke out, Wilman points out, while "me and the presenters, the older mob, we're swamped with our own work too and likewise not looking at plates."

We'll let you make up your own minds on how convincing this sounds to you, but in fairness the show is defending itself much more than it has done with previous gaffes. Have a read of Wilman's defence here.