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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