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In the Top Gear Botswana Special (series 10, episode 4), the credits look like this:

Archbishop Desmond Clarkson, Archbishop Desmond Hammond, Archbishop Desmond May, Archbishop Desmond Stig, etc.

Presented by
Archbishop Desmond Clarkson
Archbishop Desmond Hammond
Archbishop Desmond May
and
Archbishop Desmond Stig

Film Camera
Archbishop Desmond Harvey
Archbishop Desmond May
Archbishop Desmond Leaver
Archbishop Desmond Kennedy

Etcetera, etcetera. Everybody's name has turned into Archbischop Desmond name.

What's the story behind it?

It's probably a reference to activist, Nobel Prize winner and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But while that man has achieved a great deal, he wasn't from Botswana. He studied at a university named after Botswana (but based in Lesotho AFAIK, not in Botswana itself), so I don't see a direct link.

Top Gear's wikia doesn't have an entry on it.

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    This joke was also (perhaps first) used sometimes in Monty Python's Flying Circus. – Todd Wilcox Jan 9 '18 at 20:41
26

I believe this is due to what TV Tropes calls a "Small Reference Pool" - pop culture's understanding of a topic only goes so far. Top Gear always uses these gag credits during its foreign specials, using either the names of famous people from that region, or a name commonly associated with that region ("Billy Bob", during the infamous USA special).

But how many world-famous Botswanans can you think of? I'm sure there are famous Botswanans, and I mean no offence to the country, but I can't think of any. It's likely the producers also couldn't think of one, or at least one that the general public would recognise, so instead they went with a guy who, while not quite Botswanan, is world-famous and has a distinctive name. The joke simply wouldn't have worked otherwise.

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    Precious Ramotswe? – Rupert Morrish Jan 9 '18 at 19:20
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    @RupertMorrish As far as I'm concerned, a fictional Botswanan character is not much of a step up from a real person that's somewhat tied to Bostwana. – Dragomok Jan 9 '18 at 19:57
  • Fair enough, looks plausible. – Mast Jan 10 '18 at 7:34
  • Not entirely sure the joke "worked" this way either. Unless it was trying to be ignorant, chauvinist and offensive, in which case it worked fine. – terdon Jan 10 '18 at 11:08
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    According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu (I know, I know), Desmond Tutu was born "of mixed Xhosa and Motswana heritage" So in this instance Tutu has been co-opted into a lame gag in the same way that an English footballer with an Irish grandparent can be selected for the Irish team – Christian Palmer Jan 10 '18 at 12:03

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