Recently billed as a “storm raging” about “the shocking”, but some would say accurate, portrayal of the seedier side of life on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, gave quite a few of us a good laugh. Indignation and denial from the tourist board was the immediate reaction to the recent Spanish television program broadcast, which was, according to the program makers, intended to give an honest portrayal of the places that it visits – warts and all. However, I suspect that sensationalism rather than honesty was the most important thing on the producer’s mind during filming.

From sordid accounts of sex workers plying their trade to tourists, to swingers, drugs and rum drinking youngsters intent on forcing their charms on unsuspecting tourists reminded me of similar antics reportedly taking place in Ibiza and Majorca, as well as Blackpool, Brighton and Rhyl. Well, it is all the stuff of good, seedy, summer television isn’t it?

Gran Canaria is a very popular holiday and retirement destination that appeals to many different age and interest groups. The island’s long established ‘live and let live’ attitude is one of the key factors in this island paradise that appeals to so many, and is the reason why many moved to this island. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, anything goes, within reason, of course. Naturally, this view of life irritates and shocks some people, but I suspect that it titivates more than it offends the majority. There are few cities in Europe, including the UK, that doesn’t have sex workers, legal or otherwise; indeed, I suspect that a city that is drug, alcohol and swinger free is unique in Europe.

The tourist board of Gran Canaria, as well as some of its citizens, are said to be shocked by the recent revelations, fearing that the negative publicity will undermine the recent hard work that has gone into promoting the island as an international tourist destination. As a firm believer in the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, I suspect that after a little fuss and hot air being blown by local politicians and priests, they have nothing to worry about in the long term.

On a more serious note, I recently received a request from a ‘television company’ asking me to participate in their offering for would be expats. Most readers will remember good quality programs, such as “A Place in the Sun” aimed at helping would be expats to fulfill their dreams of expat life. However, an endless and tedious succession of dubious ‘copycat’ programs such as “Overseas Builders from Hell” and “Overseas Homes from Hell”, which delighted in publicizing and exaggerating the demise of the expat who actually had the courage to fulfill a long held desire and dream of moving to another country. Of course, such programs often fulfill that well-known and unfortunate trait of knocking the successful, as well as the envy and jealousy of those who have something that they do not.

I know several people who have contributed to such programs, and who have later been horrified by the way that their contribution has been edited, distorted or simply ignored, because it failed the sensationalism test that was considered essential to give the negative spin that the program makers desired.

In my own case, careful questioning of the researcher, as well as the program’s producer, revealed that they were looking to sensationalize the negative aspects of moving abroad, with a focus upon the possibility of losing everything should the euro collapse, yet another slant on the ‘land grab’ situation in Spain, as well as the collapse of the Spanish building industry. Needless to say, I declined their offer.

On a cold, wet, winter’s evening, I firmly believe that most people prefer a good news story, as well as something to feed their hopes and dreams of a life in the sun.