Outrage over BBC’s Costa del Sol documentary

BBC documentary ‘Costa del Sol: Last Brits Standing’ has left many cold after a Spain and expat life here was portrayed negatively

LAST UPDATED: 16 Apr, 2015 @ 19:08
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BBC documentary ‘Costa del Sol: Last Brits Standing’ has left many cold after Spain and expat life here was portrayed extremely negatively.

Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol

The Spaniards featured describe expats as ‘barbaric’ and ‘crazy’ while expats are seen making derogatory remarks about the Spanish.

Barbara Mora of online news site Vertele wrote: “It paints a picture of Spain as a cruel place, facing off against a British colony.”

She said: “It´s a manipulated, out-of-date report that doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Just irritation.”

Spanish daily ABC said that the assertion that dreams go sour in Spain was unfair given last year’s record tourist rates of 65 million, 15 million of those British.

Telegraph critic Ceri Radiford described the documentary as ‘an entertaining if insubstantial look at expat life’.



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35 COMMENTS

  1. I live in Costa del Sol and the majority of the British expats are not good visitors. Many have the attitude that the Spanish should be grateful that they are here. Unfortunately, I think this area of Spain attracts the worse of the British and therefore gives a very negative view.

  2. I watched it and thought that the BBC were posturing. The message was “look, the Brits are the minority group this time”. It portrayed a grim image of Brits in Spain using the Spanish health service but failed to point out that it is not a level playing field and did not mention that unlike the UK, it is only free to residents who are paying into the Spanish social security system or over 60.

  3. Scratching out a living during a recession is always tough. It doesn’t matter if you are British or Spanish. I found the documentary an honest snapshot of British life on the coast. And it’s largely self-inflicted.

    Inland, expat life is different. They are younger. College-educated. World-wise.

    Look at the Dutch, Swedes and Americans. They learn the language. And a couple more. They inter-marry. They send their kids to local schools.

    These expat cultures blend because they always have. It’s in their DNA. They also enjoy business success because they integrate themselves.

    I’d like to see the BBC to their next story on
    blended families in Spain.

    • Harry, Where would you recommend living where you can integrate yourself more? What do you mean by “inland”? Any thoughts?

  4. @Christopher of course the Spanish should be grateful we are on the Costa. British are the biggest visitors. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Spanish would still be riding donkeys as said in the programme but the Coast would be in dire circumstances without the Brits. Nearly every job is tourist related.

  5. I believe you have to separate full-time expat residents from weekend booze travelers.
    For example, most expat residents own property, pay local taxes and employ local people. These residents do support Spain’s infrastructure and do pay their fair share for local healthcare.

    In contrast, most budget airline booze travelers are bums. They get drunk, buy a t-shirt and go home. These travelers occupy the bottom-rung of Spain’s tourism economy. And they attract the most ire from Spain natives. Because when they get drunk and injured on holiday, Spain pays.

    Fortunately, the sun is setting Britain’s booze travelers. 81 percent of Spain tourist revenue come from non-British travelers today. 64M tourists traveled to Spain in 2014. 19 percent were British (Bloomberg News).

  6. Spain doesn’t pay for injured tourists. They bill the UK through the Health card. In some tourist areas like Marbella it is a major income for the hospitals.

    I do agree that Spain attracts a lot of riff raff but also from Germany and Holland too. They should look at what they have on offer for tourists such as all inclusive, happy hours, strip joints etc. the junta has been saying for years they want quality tourism but it hasn’t happened.

  7. harry,
    you do not understand how EU law works. If an EU national needs medical treatment in another EU country the bill is paid by that person’s country not the country where the person is treated.

    Also you are not aware that it is normal in the Netherlands to learn at least 2 other languages and all Scandinavians learn to speak English so they have developed the intellectual facility to aquire other languages and many Americans live in areas of the States that were taken by force of arms from Mexico and the majority of the populations speak Spanish as a first language and many of those who are A/S learn Spanish as a child, which makes it easy for them.

    Also it is’nt just the Brits who get drunk but also Germans and Dutch – they all enjoy a good punch up. In Galicia I watched two drunk Germans beating the crap out of each other – it took Brits and Gallegos to seperate them before the killed each other.

    If you bothered to read threads on this forum you will find that the Spanish education system is not that good and those that can afford it send their children to international schools.

    Doing business in Spain is hard enough for the Spanish let alone foreigners – I wonder just how long you have lived in Spain?

  8. We moved away from the coast to get away from all the bitching of the expat communities, and to find the ‘real Spain.’ If they are not complaining about living here, they are complaining about each other, as they don’t have an occupation or interest, haven’t learned the language, and still see the Spanish as ‘they/them’….yet the same moaners probably criticize the Pakistani communities in the UK as forming communities which seem apart from the British culture. Hypocrites! however many expats live wonderful lives here, and it’s just not good media to report on those happy souls as it gets more bums on seats to focus on the whingers. Life has it’s ups and downs no matter where you live, so please do not blame Spain! or the Spanish people.

  9. Inland, the REAL Spain.Hahahahahah. The pueblos now seem to have more Brits than the coast. Full of Brit bars Brit cars etc. cos it’s cheap innit.

  10. As said many a time by me, if you have a lot of cash and you are financially independent then Spain could be for you, otherwise you have had it. I watched the programme and I have seen these type of people over and over again, bars changing hands every two minutes… Of course, it would be nice to see a programme that takes a look at the people with reasonable pensions who do not have to worry about money too much. The new tax laws have probably been a major part of why many have left in recent times and why many are not going there now, in addition to that, the ones that could just about get by with an exchange rate of €1.50 to the pound have left as well. Electric is much more expensive than the UK and food shopping is not as cheap as it used to be before the euro came in. The facts that I have read state that 10’s of thousands have left Spain recently. There are a couple of Spanish people near my apartment on the coast and they do cause the most trouble. They live in a tourist area and expect it to be silent, often asking people with 2 year old kids to keep them quiet when they are in or around the communal pool. One of them does not like the British but has chosen to surround himself with us, would I move to a Muslim area in the UK, no. This one individual spoils the entire area. That is why I purchased a place inland, and apart from the neighbours dogs now and again barking a few hundred yards away it is so peaceful, wonderful place.

  11. What happened on the Costas is that around 2004 onwards everyone and their Mothers wanted to move to Spain. Some Inland villages offering cheap property were overrun by tattooed pot bellied guys who had sold their council houses and came and reinvented themselves. If they were not property renovating they were fly by night estate agents. Fortunately most have left but there are still quite a few of these people who you would not have seen on the coast in the 90s. Shame they drag down the reputation of the place as there are some very nice expats too but the TV programmes aren’t interested in normal people.

  12. I know what Marion means, I have come across people like that and one person in particular springs to mind. He said he had lived in Spain for 30 years (have you noticed how nobody has ever just arrived!), owned a yacht, had several businesses in the UK, loads of money (of course) yet despite that, he didn’t speak a word of Spanish and knew nothing about the system. The wheels then started to come off, he kept borrowing money from people and ended up going back the UK with nothing. It turned out that he had recently done a stretch in a Cambridgeshire nick and was a complete fantasist.

  13. Several of you mention “inland”. I’m curious… What do you mean by that? Surely everywhere apart from the coast is inland??

  14. Jane many of the estate agents claim to have been around for years are currently spamming comments and forums. One claims to have been in Spain for twenty years when not many years ago he was in prison in the UK for fraud. It is difficult to find out now with stuff being withdrawn from Google. Although I suppose everyone deserves a second chance…..I think?

  15. I did not see that documentary, but who wants to look at british TV when in Spain? :))
    I am an expat,not British though,Norwegian,
    and i did not move to Spain to find a Norwegian or British community,
    I moved here to learn something new,new language,different customs,
    therefor i live in a Spanish neighborhood, learning Spanish language,
    cooking Spanish recipes.
    It should not be “us” or “them” when moving to a foreign country,
    all expats starts as visitors,and should do their part to integrate,
    at least try to learn the language and show respect in the country that hosts them!
    Christine:)

  16. None,Marion:)
    Just a comment from my personal point of view,as i am not British,
    i do follow Norwegian,international and Spanish news myself,
    but my point was,
    I don`t really understand those who want everything they already had
    in their mother-country,like the food the people and the language.
    I neither understand the clan-mentally either,
    not trying to integrate,
    as it is not as us from up there north are refugees,
    it is mostly a voluntarily change of scenery.
    Have a nice day!

    • I know quite a few Norwegians on the coast, most come from Stavanger and they all socialise together, much the same as the British. In fact the same as any nation. The Spanish in the UK congregate together in Spanis owned bars too.

  17. Well said, Christine. Integration starts by learning Spanish. Respecting local customs. Embracing a Spanish sensibility. The biggest beef most Spaniards have with Brits
    on the coast is that they don’t learn the language and they don’t blend in. I believe if you want to run a business or work in Spain, you should be required to learn the language.

  18. Harry,
    I get really tired of idiots spouting b/s that Brits don’t learn to speak Spanish. Lived in Galicia for just under 2 years and learned to speak quite a bit of gallego. In Andaluz they don’t speak ‘Spanish/castillano’ they speak a dialect that is closer to Arabic than castillano.

    Embrace the ‘Spanish sensibility’ – you mean have a complete disregard for the land and see it only as something to be exploited and ruined. You mean treat other life forms as less than nothing. You mean live and breathe corruption. You mean be envious of others. You mean create noise that is truly deafening at fiesta time – no I did’nt embrace any of that.

  19. I can’t see a great deal wrong with watching UK TV in Spain after all, plenty of foreigners living in the UK watch the TV of their country and I have no objection to it, why would I?

    Harry makes an interesting point about people blending in and believe me, this is a problem we have in the UK but if anyone dared to use that term they be pureed by the PC brigade.

  20. Ajajaj Stuart,did not mean to upset you or make you angry!
    :)
    Generally,I don’t like to stereotype people,
    as we are all different, and like Marion said,Norwegians stick together too,
    by the way Stavanger-people are usually very nice and fun,so I understand they enjoy each others company.

    But why get offended?
    I thought it was a well known fact that British,as in general,
    announce loud and clear they don`t want to learn Spanish.
    Fine.
    So be,that is a personal choice, which I don`t understand.
    I never met a rude Brit,the guys are jolly and joking,the women calls me darling,
    without even knowing me,and I find them all so charming.
    I never met a nasty Spanish either,
    their smiling faces is everywhere, and they are so welcoming.
    My Spanish is far from perfect,but I try,and they appreciate it,
    they know I make an effort to try to get to know them.
    That is my choice,others take their choice.
    I never had to escape from Norway,
    it was always my dream living here,
    so I do

    Not to integrate, is to me a strange perception
    specially with the view you yourself have Stuart,
    you mention corruption,exploited and ruined.

    Why are you here then,if you dislike your surroundings so much?
    Remember,Spain is a very old country,
    with a lot of history,ups and downs,
    they always survived.
    It is in their core,which I admire

    And corruption is everywhere,ups and downs too,
    you mentioned envious,
    maybe it`s not envy,but frustration,

    I can put myself in that situation,
    my fantasy can easily wander to my own country,
    I imagine our oil run out,
    and we become the potato-country we were only a hundred years ago.
    Brits,Italian,Japanese buy all our nice coastline properties,
    because they can,
    and they don?t even want to say hello or smile at me,
    they think they owe the right,since money rules.
    ?

    You know what Stuart,
    money change hands over history,
    like in our own life,
    we are sometimes strong,sometimes weak,
    Spain seem to survive whatever
    cause their core is strong from the very same history.
    So are the Brits,it seems.

    My opinion is from my personal point of view,
    as I am greeted with a smile as a foreigner,
    and my way of saying thank you,
    is to learn the language to the country that hosts me.
    As I learned your language,to communicate better,
    with flaws,but who cares?

    Anybody with an other point of view,of course,
    we are all different,I understand the clan-mentality,
    but it does not give you the right to call me an idiot,nor Harry.

    Nice evening to you.

  21. The TV was a joke Jane
    as it is not normal for me as a Norwegian to follow Brit news
    :)
    Also I don’t like to sit,I like to move
    and wonder
    how any can sit watch so much
    and still get a lover,or good friends¨’

    I move;)
    Kisses!

  22. Reap,
    have it ever occured to you,
    that not all expats are pension-age?
    Some of us are fully working,internet-time¨you know,
    take our work wherever we want to be

    Say thank you!
    Once in a while
    I does not hurt!!

  23. The Dutch say they have to speak another language, usually English or German as no one speaks their language. The same applies to Norway. English is spoken worldwide so the British can be a little lazy. Some areas of Spain such as Andalucia rely so much on tourism, particularly residential tourism that surely the ball is in their court and they should be the ones making the effort.

    I agree that it is beneficial to speak the language of the country you are living in but at the same time it does alert one to the xenophobic attitude of our Spanish friends when you understand what is being said.

  24. Oh dear Christine G – I wonder how long you have been in Spain. When a Spaniard tells me that two things define his people – corruption and envy I would have to agree with him.

    I think you need to read some back issues of the Olive Press as well as the current issue you seem to have completely ignored or blanked all the numerous corruption stories.

    You also seem to have ignored the fact that I do speak castillano and some gallego – read my post again, my Dutch and German are’nt so good any , lack of use but my French is OK.

    You also seem unaware that Spain was poverty stricken until the tourists began to arrive in numbers in the 1970s’ and the tens of billions that northern Europe poured into Spain since they joined the EU or the hundreds of billions they have borrowed (and may never pay back) in the crisis formed by their crazy over building of property. So yes they survived but in real poverty – did you ever visit Spain in the 60s’ – I don’t think so. Being Norwegian and not being a member of the EU is no excuse for not knowing just how much northern Europeans have pumped into southern Europe not just Spain, most of which has been grafted away in countless corruption scandals.

    You also seem to know very little about your own country which I find amazing. When the oil and gas run out Norway will be fine because it now has the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world surpassing Dubai – you should have known that should’nt you.

    Stavanger was a lovely little town when I worked as an NDT man safety checking on the new and world’s biggest oil platform at the beginning of the 1980s’ – the DB 100. Always meant to go back and spend time hiking through the amazing and unending forests.

    Take a look at the two stories in this online issue of the Brits and a Finnish woman who have both been shafted by the Junta – just because it has’nt happened to you everything is OK is’nt it? and they are just the tip of the iceberg. I suggest you go and talk to all those foreigners and we are talking thousands and thousands that live in perpetual stress that their homes will be pulled down.
    The English don’t have a clan mentality they are not Celts. You should have known that as well, also before you Aryans came stumbling of the Steppes in numbers Norway was inhabited by Celts.

    We don’t live in Spain anymore but we did for 9 years and we never ever thought about living in a Brit ghetto, we always lived among the ordinary Spanish and we have many Spanish friends who agree with everything I have said bt none of tem was the corrupt professional class. I also have traveled all over Spain, have you?

    If you are going to have a rant make sure it is directed at the right target otherwise you just look idiotic don’t you and Jane’s comment was spot on as well.

    You maybe lucky but the percentages are against it, so if and when you encounter all, or some of the negatives that so many foreigners have had to deal with you will come back and tell us all about it won’t you?

  25. Stuart, just stop. You just said you don’t live in Spain anymore.

    What makes you an authority on expat life now? You lived in Spain in the 60’s and 70’s? Soo 40 years later, you are expert on expat life in Spain?

    Grandpa, please.

  26. It has never been in the interest of the British media to pump up the idea of moving to Spain. Their accountants don’t want to see a drop in their print-runs and their advertisers don’t want to lose customers.
    Mind, it’s also the case that many Brits living in Spain rather miss the bus of life here. Imagine how much more fun and interesting life would be with a firmer knowledge of the language, the culture, the geography, the history and the politics of this fascinating country.

  27. Harry,
    nowhere did I say that I lived in Spain in the 60s’ or 70s’, I talked about visiting Spain in the 60s’, I did’nt visit Spain in the 70s’ as Franco’s boys would have disappeared me, stop reading into someone’s posts things they did’nt say. You speak about those with a colledge exducation as if they are superior – what arrogance – I have met plenty of ex uni louts who are a disgrace to their countries.

    I left in 2009, talk every week on the phone with my Spanish friends. You know nothing about how the EU operates so instead of spouting off you should ask questions, not make pronounces that have nothing to do with the reality of living in the EU so pal it’s you who should stop with the b/s -saves tonto.

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