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2012-06-15 12:08

AND WE THOUGHT ALL THE SOCCER HOOLIGANS WERE IN POLAND: Showing the latest in Brit casualwear, James May (left) and Richard Hammond (aka The Hamster) make a big impression in Durban.

It didn’t take much to rile Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson yesterday and it had nothing to do with Durban, KwaZulu-Natal or South Africa.

Instead it was some of his followers on Twitter back home who managed to irritate him.

Clarkson and co-presenter James May dropped into Durban aboard a private jet on Thursday, June 14 2012 to join Richard Hammond, who was already in the city for the weekend’s Top Gear Festival.


Tweeted Clarkson: “So. We’ve arrived in South Africa. We have a security team and a jet. Now what shall we do?”

He included a photo of the private jet and the men-in-black security detail, as well as other candid shots inside the plane, including a producer quaffing a glass of something grapey.

Later he posted a photo of Hammond looking the worse for wear in the back of the Top Gear’s black cab.

“Holy cow. Look who’s in the back of our car,” he tweeted.

But if Tourism KZN and Durban had hoped for free publicity on the social networks to attract visitors from abroad it seemed some of the trio’s followers, at least in the UK, were not interested in South Africa.


Was it British taxpayers’ money that was funding the shindig with their BBC licence fees? they asked.

Clarkson’s initial tweets were polite but as the questions continued in a similar vein he replied, clearly exasperatedly: “Hysterical ignorance about how Top Gear Live is funded. No  repeat NO  licence fee money is used. None. Not a penny.”

And when someone finally asked how it was indeed funded, he sarcastically replied: “Er. Ticket sales. Like you know, every other live gig that’s ever been held anywhere.”

Those who might have reason to complain - such as Durban’s Twitterati - appeared unfazed, even though it was their tax money that had been pumped into the festival. The eThekwini Metro and the provincial government, for example, set aside R31-million to host the festival for three years.


So what did the trio think of Durban? Unlike previous years, their PR people decided there would be no interviews, no photos. Neither were they prepared to divulge where the trio Flab 3 staying although, based on James May's tweets, it's an upmarket Umhlanga hotel.

If fans were hoping for some action, at the time this item going live, the Top Gear crew had not insulted anyone or caused offence except perhaps with their Brit fashion sense (see pic above).

One or more of the trio has been known to upset a range of people, including British Labour leader Ed Milliband and the Mexican ambassador to England. We wonder if they'll try it with The Spear, or even with the wannabe Baby Spear?

-- The Witness

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