1 Nov, 2006 @ 04:55
4 mins read

Life through a lens

by Vernon Grant

FOR my sins I have been, for 26 years, a
television producer. 

I confess that I have invaded the privacy
of both the "man in the street" and the famous. Some people welcome
you into their home. Others do not. 

I remember being slapped and screamed at by
a then overweight astrologer. Another time I was ordered out of the kitchen of
a female television chef whose vocabulary reached boiling point.

When opening your home, or revealing your
inner self to a television crew, you are vulnerable. People like me (though
never actually me, you must understand), will reassure you that the stain on
the carpet, caused by the ketchup that spewed out of my bacon sandwich, will
wash out. Nervous females will be assured that their bum does not look big in
the far too tight outfit, purchased hastily in advance of filming.

Friends used to ask me if I would allow a
television crew into a home of mine. The answer remains the same. Never!

Promoting their business was the driving
force for long time friends Denise Guest and Anita Gackowska when they agreed
to be filmed by independent television company Shine. The girls wanted to
publicise their ambitious joint project to renovate, rent and sell properties
in this region. Their venture was the subject of the first in a series called
One Year To Pay Off Your Mortgage (programme titles
were snappier in my day) – transmitted recently on Channel 4 in the
United Kingdom.


Anita says: "The producers were
emphatic that the programme was not setting out to debunk its contributors. However,
while no production company will ever allow you editorial control over how you
are portrayed, in a sense the first ‘edit’ still lies with you. They cannot put
that excruciatingly embarrassing line in the programme – unless you say it first!

"Finally, always remember, when the
red camera light is on, you are being filmed."

The camera followed Denise and Anita for
many months.

Denise says: "The film crew actually
followed the process of renovation over the course of a year so they were
around quite a lot. I suppose that sometimes filming did get a little in the
way of other things that we needed to achieve on our inspection visits – but we
had known what we were letting ourselves in for at the start. On the whole, the
crew were very personable and fun to be with and they did try to make amends
with some very nice lunches."

Regular animated village arguments, usually
about car parking places, were edited into the programme in order to give the
impression that those renovating the properties owned by Denise and Anita were
causing chaos in the village. Television can be misleading. This fact was
recently brought home to another couple who live in Albuñuelas.

This month, the well known artist Jim Park (www.jimparkgallery.com)
got up at
5am to catch the bus that took him, his wife Helene, and other
villagers to the Canal Sur studios in
Malaga. They were
to take part in the live show "Mira la Vida."

Although Jim had earlier been filmed at
home in his painting studio, the programme failed to feature his colourful
canvasses. This was not the only surprise for the couple, as Helene explains.

She says: "Towards the end of the
programme I was asked to ‘come on down’ together with our builder who lives in
the village. The ‘angle’ which the programme makers finally used, and which
left Jim, the builder and me gasping for air, was that a) I had given the
builder a blank cheque, and b) I had bought the house without Jim’s knowledge.

"Both these facts were blatantly
untrue. We left a book of signed cheques with the local bank and they paid the
builder and materials when necessary. When I made a short visit to Albuñuelas
on my own I did indeed make an offer on the house, but it was certainly with
Jim’s full knowledge."

Despite feeling misled, Helene remains
positive about the experience.

She says: "It was an honour to be
asked to appear and I hope that I was able to show that a foreigner has been
trusting and adaptable and that we have made a happy home in the village.

"Personally it was confidence boosting.
I was able to participate in an interview in Spanish and I very much felt part
of the village, particularly afterwards when countless people complimented me
on my TV appearance.

"My advice to others invited to be on
TV would be to try and find out what the agenda of the programme actually is."

Meanwhile Denise and Anita can expect the
cameras to return for an update on their project. It is a cost-effective
practice in broadcasting these days. An updated programme that includes only a
few minutes of fresh footage is NOT classed as a repeat. The statistics reflect
it to be NEW programming.

If I were Denise or Anita, I would tell
Shine to put the cameras where the sun doesn’t etc! They won’t, of course. People
rarely do.

Denise says: "You cannot turn down the
offer to advertise your business for free for one hour on Channel 4. Anita and
I were philosophical about the risks of being made to appear completely foolish.

"I do not think that either Anita or I
were overly dismayed. It was a format show and those kinds of programme are
about entertainment as well as information.

"We now have four properties up and
running and renting out in the
Lecrin Valley and two
in Güéjar Sierra. We also have a resale property (Casa Zoraba) in Albuñuelas. This
has plans drawn up for four double bedrooms and a pool.

"In the final analysis the four of our
properties that featured in the programme looked great and we have had a lot of
hits on our rental website www.spanishholidaycottages.com The
programme has got the business off to a flying start so, yes, overall it was

Staff Reporter

DO YOU HAVE NEWS FOR US at Spain’s most popular English newspaper - the Olive Press? Contact us now via email: [email protected] or call 951 273 575. To contact the newsdesk out of regular office hours please call +34 665 798 618.

1 Comment

  1. Yes I remember the this Programme well and enjoyed it immensely. I remember Denise featured much more than Anita. I remembering admiring Denise for her spirit and independence. Shame about the presenter, who had the knack of narrating the obvious (but then they all do)!

    It was at a time when a lot of Property programs were being aired at the time, almost daily to tempt us into buying / renting abroad. These progs painted pictures and created dreams to the masses, which like many, stirred me to up sticks and leave the UK for Spain…. it was nice for a while but never match the dream I had in my head !! Still it was/is a great adventure and no-one was harmed !!

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