Police in South Iceland are upset that the BBC Top Gear crew filming at the erupting Fimmvorduhals volcano appear to have tried to drive on the molten lava and caught their tyres alight. But their guides say the stunt was safe and carefully monitored.
Representatives from Arctic Trucks, the company guiding the Top Gear crew led by James May, say that the front wheels of one of their super jeeps was deliberately driven up onto the hot lava until the tyres caught on fire. The car was then moved backwards again and the fire extinguished with no danger to anyone involved. The volcanologist on the trip seemed to agree, saying that the stunt will make great television.
However, police in Hvolsvollur have severely criticised the stunt as dangerous and irresponsible, adding that being that close to the volcano and also in no danger is simply not possible. The BBC should know better, police claim.
To add to the crew’s woes, The Environment Agency has asked the District Commissioner in Hvolsvollur to investigate claims that the Top Gear crew has been driving off-road, which is illegal in all of Iceland – even at active volcanoes. Many roads in the Highlands do not look like roads and are nothing more than paths marked with poles, but their existence is designed to protect the rest of the landscape from the extensive damage caused by vehicular traffic.
Viewers can make up their own mind when the 15th series of Top Gear starts in the UK this June. It is also show in dozens of other countries around the world, including Iceland on Skjar 1.