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It may have been almost 10 years since Jeremy Wells set foot in Gore, but the Southland locals don't forget a face.

The Eating Media Lunch host was in the Southland town last weekend for One News' election coverage when he was accosted by 15 men at a petrol station.

They wanted to "smack him over" for comments he and Mikey Havoc made in 1999, hailing Gore as the gay capital of New Zealand.

A TV insider said the bunch of men, mainly in their 20s, started harassing Wells and fellow presenter Hugh Sundae at a petrol station, and followed them back to their hotel.

"It wasn't a joke. A whole bunch of people wouldn't leave him alone and they were trying to punch him," said the source.

"Jeremy kept appeasing them and saying things like `It was just a bit of comedy, chill out' but they were yelling back `you f**king homo' and things like that."

The police were called to the Scenic Circle Hotel, where Wells and his TV crew were staying, after 90 minutes of being harassed by the mob. Wells was trapped in his hotel room.

Sandra Marshall from Scenic Circle Hotel said she had checked Wells in earlier in the day but had finished her shift by the time things got out of hand.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said Wells was "either very brave or very stupid" coming back.

"Of course he's welcome here - everybody's welcome in Gore - but I know there are a lot of people who have a lot of pride in this place we call home, and some get very offended by those comments," said Hicks.

"If he's going around late at night trying to get comments from locals, or whatever he was doing, then you take your chances, really, don't you?"

Wells and Sundae did not return calls.