How the staff of British Consulates in Spain help citizens in distress is to be highlighted in a new TV documentary series to be broadcast next month on the UK’s Channel 4.
The problems caused by lost and stolen passports, and the costs and consequences of failing to buy holiday insurance, are just two of the biggest calamities for homeowning residents and holidaymakers who turn to the British Consulates for help.
The new TV series, filmed last summer, reveals how consular staff come to the rescue of Britons who find themselves in trouble. From helping victims of crime to advising Brits arrested by the police, the series also follows consular staff as they visit holidaymakers who end up in hospital and meet expat residents to hear their property concerns.
The three part series, called ‘Our Man In…’, provides unprecedented access to the work of British consular staff. It will be shown on the UK’s Channel 4 on Thursdays 1st, 8th and 15th March at 22.00 GMT (23.00 CET). The first programme features Mallorca and Ibiza, the second follows the team in Alicante and the third covers Tenerife and Barcelona.
Residents and tourists
The British Consulates in Spain are among the busiest in the world. “The series shows the hard work and professionalism of our staff in helping Brits abroad”, says Dave Thomas, Consular Director for Southern Europe. “We’re here to assist, and residents and tourists can find even more information on our ukinspain website.”
The series reveals the consequences of failing to prepare properly for a holiday. Even if you’re staying with friends and family, travelling without insurance could cost you many thousands of pounds if you’re injured abroad.
“Losing your passport will cost you time and money”, says Dave Thomas. “And without an EHIC health card, you’ll find it harder to get medical care. By taking a few simple precautions, you can avoid a dream holiday turning into a nightmare.”
On the party island of Ibiza, consular staff tackle the fall-out from a new drug on club scene – the so-called ‘pink pill’. A young tourist is found lost, nearly naked, and unable to recall anything but his name. Then the Brit dealers who supply the pills also need help after they’re arrested.
In Mallorca, staff deal with a young Brit who’s been tasered by overzealous police. A holidaymaker from Essex has been run over by a drunk driver, and lies seriously injured in hospital. And a Lancashire couple’s holiday is transformed by the arrival, nine weeks early, of their tiny baby son.
The programme on Alicante shows the pro-active face of the Foreign Office, with staff seeking out Brits caught up in a forest fire, tackling a death in Benidorm, and working with local police to manage an invasion of Scottish football fans.
In Barcelona and Tenerife, crime has its effects on visitors and on the workload of the Consulates. Street robberies and stolen passports lead to inconvenience, distress and unexpected costs for holidaymakers. Meanwhile consular staff are also busy helping some of the people who need it most – expat prisoners and homeless Brits who simply want to go home.
‘Our Man In…’ was filmed in August and September last year and is produced by Screenchannel Television, a London-based independent production company. The executive producers are Emma Barker, a former commissioning editor and controller at ITV, and Peter Lowe, a former executive producer and programme editor at BBC Television and controller at Carlton Television.
(www.homesandtravel.co.uk recently published an article on the new EU-wide emergency services phone number entitled: Homeowner Or Holidaymaker in the EU? The Number For Emergency Services is 112. It’s really worthwhile making a note of this number).