Have we got news for you: Clarkson couldn’t have made things worse!

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MISSING: BBC documentary could have used Jeremy Clarkson


“Of course, the Spanish are backward. Why, before the Brits arrived you couldn’t order a fry-up in the noonday sun!”
The recent BBC documentary, Costa del Sol: Last Brits Standing, which followed Bronte the barmaid, 66-year-old jive-dance instructor Colin and Big Dave (who ought to go on a whisky diet; he’d soon lose three days, no sweat), was meant to paint a picture of expat life on the Costa del Sol. Instead it spouted the same old sensationalist clichés. At any moment you expected someone to come out with the above quip.
In fact, the BBC missed a trick by not having Jeremy Clarkson on hand. He could have upped the offensiveness factor single-handedly.
The film’s portrayal of both the Spanish and the British was a gross exaggeration. Such a one-sided ‘documentary’ simply misrepresented the lives and opinions of the majority of Brits who get on well with the Spanish.
But then, ‘colourful’ stereotypes make good TV. Focusing on ordinary people successfully integrated in the community who’ve learned Spanish would fly in the face of the show’s spotlight on a few who are plainly struggling. Basically, anyone who gets on screen will be a ‘character’, so ‘boring’, hard-working individuals won’t get a look in.
In some ways, Spain is a country at the crossroads. The uncertainty of the past few years has taken its toll in many ways, including a rise in the number of house repossessions, bankruptcies and expats forced to return to the UK. But with GDP slightly up and unemployment figures slightly down, it’s maybe finally turning the corner.
And corruption scandals, so long the plague of Spanish life, now seem finally under the control of the judicial system. In fact, they’re now so numerous that Spanish TV news lumps them together in one swift round-up, ranging from King Felipe’s sister’s indictment for tax fraud plus her husband’s alleged embezzlement, to the alleged slush fund operated by Spain’s governing conservative party.
Yes, there are good and bad bits about living anywhere but this programme was totally unrepresentative. The vast majority of industrious expats who are doing well personally and professionally after migrating here weren’t featured.
Ordinariness and a sense of balance, after all, make for dull TV. Not so much a documentary then, more a bigoted rant.
Nora Johnson’s thrillers Landscape of Lies, Retribution, Soul Stealer, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore.
Profits to Cudeca.


2 COMMENTS

  1. A fair, balanced article.

    The BBC should be ashamed of that so-called documentary. It was full of inaccuracies, ridiculous stereotypes with no basis in reality and outdated propaganda designed to scare people off moving abroad or holidaying outside the UK.

  2. Well said. Many of us here lead good, interesting lives, having made the effort to learn Spanish and integrate.

    Wherever you go, you’ll always find some Brits who bring their old habits with them. I think that those who don’t take the trouble to learn the language of the country they live and work in do have more of a hard time. Anyone who’s made up their mind to come and settle here now would be strongly advised to integrate with the people whose country it is.

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