Gibraltar – (Little) Britain in the Sun

LAST UPDATED: 24 Jun, 2013 @ 20:46
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Gibraltar – (Little) Britain in the Sun

Rebecca Maguire gives her view on the new Channel Five documentary Gibraltar – Britain in the Sun

UNDERSTANDABLY Channel Five’s new series Gibraltar – Britain in the Sun is causing quite a stir on the Rock.

And ultimately opinion is very divided on whether it puts its citizens in a good light or not.

Either way, the show is certainly focussing on the quirkier side of the ‘world’ smallest colony’.

So far topics tackled include predictably theape population and British-style bobbies, as well as dolphins, beach life and its tiny runway.

Designed to appeal to a curious British audience and narrated by actor Timothy Spall, each episode follows locals and British ex-pats who call the rock home.

The series opened with teenage lifeguards showing off their physiques. But as 17-year-old Jesse McLaren knows it’s not all posing. After spotting a woman sunbathing topless, he approaches cautiously and politely but firmly says: “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but you can’t be topless on the beach. Thank you.” Then returning to the camera, he says: “That wasn’t very nice. It was an old woman, not very nice looking boobs anyway, but it’s what I have to do.”

Spall’s phlegmatic, “Phew, disaster averted.” only adds to the carry-on style humour.

Expats Tony Watkins and Shane Athey run Gibraltar’s Dolphin Adventure Tours, creating a Heath Robinson-esque show with underwater dolphin cameras, but their invention’s success is thwarted when they get lost in a sea fog. The pair’s eccentric exploits and constant banter are reminiscent of Top Gear, but when they explore the wreck of the 1916 steamer, SS Rosslyn, viewers are given a fascinating glimpse into the hidden treasures of Gibraltar’s waters.

Aerial shots and quirky Benidorm-style theme music introduces Gibraltar’s airport. You half expect David Walliams and Matt Lucas to pop up to offer a complimentary Daily Mail.

Instead Airport Manager Dani Lecris informs Liverpool passengers that their flight has been diverted to Malaga: coaches will arrive in an hour and the journey will take two hours. Narrator Spall mutters: “Mmm, no sugar coating then Dan.”

Overtones of Come Fly With Me intensify as it emerges security have mislaid the keys to let the disgruntled passengers out of the terminal. “It’s never happened before,” Says an embarrassed Dan.

If you want a serious investigation into Gibraltar’s controversies and complexities you’ll be disappointed, but if you have a fascination and fondness for the unique territory and its vivacious inhabitants you will enjoy the idiosyncrasies the programme offers.

Gibraltar’s booming tourist industry already attracts six million visitors a year. After this series has aired, the Rock can probably expect to have to make room for many more.

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21 COMMENTS

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  1. I have visited Gibraltar several times over the past few years. There is one thing that Gibraltar is not: “Britain in the sun.”

    There are as many similarities between Gibraltar and the UK as there are similarities between Florida and Liverpool.

  2. Tony Bishop what then in heaven’s name were you doing visiting Gibraltar several times over the past few years? Did you miss something from back home? It might not be Britain in the Sun to you, but it certainly has the ingrained British concept of fair play, governing, rules, policing, education, working conditions etc., that makes it so much more. And no Edward living in Gibraltar is not claustrophobic. It seems some people don’t feel claustrophobic living in Torremolinos and I am sure you get the best you can expect when you have a problem, going by the comments on various articles in this digital newspaper.

  3. Inthename, although it´s not your business to know why I have been to Gibraltar, nonetheless I will tell you.

    Two reasons.

    1. For business. I went to visit a bookseller who wants to sell our book.

    2. To visit an archaeological dig that is taking place in two of the caves down at the eastern side of the mountain.

    The last time I went was last summer.

    Happy now?

  4. I can’t really comment myself having only been once a couple of years ago, but it didn’t seem that nice in town. Unless the nicer bits people like are on the other side of the rock? or hidden down alleyways? Quite expensive to eat too?

    Thanks for any comments though – seems a fascinating place for good and bad reasons.

  5. My history of visiting Gibraltar goes back to 1989. The time we bought our first house on the Sol.
    First impressions then; groty place that needed a good clean, shops too eager to screw the customer (yes, a number of personal experiences); and weather not a lot better than the UK (well the week we were their that was true).

    Those problems being excluded we had a great holiday (although some of it consisted of driving to Jerez and other Spanish towns to get the sunshine). We talked to the local people in the bars and to a man they wanted the connection to the UK to continue.

    We were told about wartime experiences like moving young people to the east-end of London because is was thought it would be safer than Gib. They said that 10 times the bombs were dropping on the east end compared to Gib!

    Also how the found fishing vessels in Southend were throwing away squid as they had no use for it. One Gib young boy (he was 12 at the time) asked if he could have the squid for his cat to which the fishermen were happy to oblige. He promptly then sold it to his fellow Gibraltarians and cleaned up financially!

    As we continued to visit Gibraltar over the years (guests coming out from the UK would always have Gib on their list of must sees).

    The place gradually improved untill my brother who was there just a few weeks ago told me ‘its as clean and tidy as any Spanish town and better than most’.

    Not sure who waved the whip but it seems to have worked.

    Over following months and years we visited quite a lot. It got better I’m pleased to say and the improvements continue.

  6. although I enjoyed the programme light hearted look at Gibralter and the little bit of history of the peninsula
    there was one bit of history the researchers forgot to include that the bit between 1939 and 1945 from 1939 to 1943 202 flying boat sqdn carried out anti submarine sweeps and convoy escort duties including the malta convoy I guess then in 1943 to 1945 202 sqdn were replaced by 22 sqdn S.A.A.F. which had a lot of R.A.F.V.R. british airmen seconded to the S.A.A.F. who then continued to carry on with anti submarine sweeps and convoy escort duties.So im some what disappointed that this bit of history was excluded and also the airmen in Britain who were at Gibralter at the time who saw the programme feel the same.So I think peter Jackson (local historian)needs to update his knowledge of this era of Gibralters history.I would just like to add my father was one of the airmen who served in Gibralter with 22 sqdn 1943 to 1945.

  7. I served 18 months of national service there as a cook stationed at garrison employment company in Town Range Barracks from1954 to 1955andI think Gibraltar was a much more interesting place than it is now .The people then seemed more poorer but were all very hard working one in particular was a man we knew as Rubio who work as a civilian for the British Military.
    Also most of the other civilian workers were Spanish from either La Linea or Algaciras also workers who worked very hard for little pay.
    Gibraltar in my opinion looks just like Benidorm or any other Spanish holiday resort very brash looking Still I enjoyed my time there and have many happy memories of fellow servicemen I got to know then.
    Paid a visit there in the early 1990’s started to notice the changes then Regards to all old service men who may read this message.

  8. @Russell – you are telling Peter the guide to brush up on his knowledge and spell the place wrong 4 times!!!!
    @Dref – Whilst I doubt you have even been shown round or travelled round Gib properly you manage in one short piece to slag off a place in Wales be rascist against gypsies and against Gibraltarian. Well done. Place is better off without YOU that’s for sure.
    To others – Gib has fought back recently against accusations of being dirty – difficult when your 30,000 people are joined each day by another 100,000. But achieved in the main. If you want to see Gib properly find out where to go from a local or better still pay the price of a guided tour from the taxi drivers. Sounds an expensive tour but actually cheaper than any other on the Med when you get off a cruise ship and no long distance to get to what you want to see. Many visitors don’t even know about the Museum but it is a brilliant place. Also many go to Europa point but don’t go underground to see the exhibits there. If you just come for the shopping you will be disappointed.

  9. I had a great trip there this year, enjoyed it. Had a pizza at the foot of the cable car, price was fine and the pizza was great. I don’t think you need a car there, so many buses. Locals were friendly and very helpful, they seemed happy as well. Buss drivers were a bit moody. Hotel was expensive at £170 a night for a family but as the Spanish mess around on the border I could not be bothered with getting in and out every day but as it happened there was not much of a queue in or out. It broke my Spanish holiday up well, purchased some nice French Brandy at a good price.. Unless you are very wealthy you would only be able to afford an apartment there so I can understand the comment regarding space, it is a city life with a beach.

  10. I think Gibraltar is great and I am a frequent visitor there. Agree with Reap about the hotels, they are expensive so it is best to stay in La Linea. My parents always stop at Gib on their cruises and apparently it is always one of the most popular destinations amongst passengers. People just love it and on their last cruise, loads of people complained to Cunard because they didn’t have enough time there.

    For such a small place, it is hugely successful with a good economy and virtually zero unemployment.

  11. Many base their views on a short trip up Main Street and Morrisons. They know nothing of it’s people or history. Lots more to do than anywhere on the Costa, Museums, castle, caves, Marina, bird watching. Plus a cheap bottle of spirits for a souvenir.

  12. in reply to bluemoons reply to mine I do not slag off wales and I do not make any racist remarks about gypsies and I do not slag off any body in gibralter(oops sorry bluemoon I mean Gibraltar) I only point out a piece of history that seems to have been forgotten or mislaid .please could bluemoon reveal his real name pleeeese (oops sorry bluemoon I mean please).thanc yoo (oops I mean thank you)

  13. A really interesting place to visit, and have done so for various reasons since the late 80’s. It’s a pity about the unfriendly, unpleasant creatures that inhabit the place though, they’ll rip you off as soon as look at you, but the apes are quite nice.

  14. I am trying to find information about a shantytowm that was at the northern end of Gibraltar we used to walk past it on our way to Catalan bay to sun bathe and swim .
    There was a Gibaltarian man who was our armourer who actually lived there in 1954-5 can anyone shed any light on this please.
    Also what happened to the charactors who were in Gib at that time :Malaga Joe and a chap who dressed up as a Cowboy complete with Stetson and toy six shooter who used to sit on the kerb rolling up a cigarette sitting there dreaming of the wide open spaces .
    Any help would be appreciated Regards Harry Isles ex ACC

  15. Further to my post re Gibraltar there was also many people who were virtually destitute I can recall at least two men who used to visit the area where our pots and pans and crockery were washed to fill up the tin can that they carried with them with the scrapings off of the plates that were put in a swill bin.
    Many times I used to give items of food that was left over so that they didn’t always have to resort to the bins.
    Its nice to see watching Gibraltar in The Sun that everyone seems to be well off now and this type of thing no longer happens mid you the show seems to focus only on ex pats not true Gibraltarians!!! Regards Harry Isles EX ACC

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