Did we like it?
Yes. In the docusoap league, this was a rare winner, being well-shot, free of a corny narration and free of forced storylines. Back to the good old fly-on-the-wall days.
What was good about it?
• The high level of sneerability. We got our fair share of shots of bloated Brits reading the tabloids or filling in wordsearches round a hotel pool while being burned into what the Spanish refer to as “gambas” (prawns).
• As an added bonus, we met expats (who are usually worse than the booze’n’bingo holidaymakers) who also sneered at the visitors. The Ambassador Hotel’s assistant manager Lisa exploded the myth that it’s the Germans who bagsie the best sunbeds – the Brits are the offenders, she said, while comparing the morning rush to the running of the bulls in Pamplona. She, and hotel PR manager-cum-aquagym class instructor Tony, also despaired at the Brits’ lack of interest in Spanish culture and the fact that they never step outside the hotel (we suggest Lisa and Tony pull the plug on big-screen airings of EastEnders and Emmerdale. That might do the trick).
• The nits-on-the-blanket incident, which provided a little drama.
• Entertainer Neil St John (“the voice of Benidorm”) being happy with his (little) lot. He knows he’s not a star. He’s the sort of singer that Simon Cowell tells is only good enough to perform in pubs. He tells awful jokes. His rendition of My Girl recalled Vic Reeves’ pub singer. His Meat Loaf impression was poor apart from the pouring perspiration. Yet he has a beautiful Ukranian wife Anya, two kids and no pointless stars in his eyes, acknowledging that his name is in chalk, not in lights, and will probably remain so.
What was bad about it?
• Is it really ITV’s place to poke fun at uneducated slobs when that is the audience it appeals to?
• Pedro, who was the mayor when Benidorm shot into the Spanish skies, seemed proud of his accomplishment – he passed a law allowing bikinis to be worn anywhere, he bragged – but should really be ashamed of the blight.