Adios Eldorado (6K) One hundred and fifty six episodes of Eldorado were made for the BBC, who released a highlights video after the series finished in July 1993.
THIS PAGE WAS WRITTEN IN 1998 - INFO AND LINKS MAY BE OUT OF DATE

The Beginning

In 1991 the BBC needed a show to take over from the ailing Wogan chat show so they bought the concept of "Little England" from John Dark and Verity Lambert. Julia Smith and Tony Holland, responsible for the highly successful Eastenders, were then made Producer and Script Editor of what was to become Eldorado. Production began in early 1992. Most people working on the show thought it was to start transmission in September - certainly Series Designer Keith Harris, responsible for the building of the massive set (who also designed Albert Square) did, but then the BBC brought TX forward to July and the first couple of months' recordings had to be scheduled around the diggers, bricklayers and painters.

Sun, Sea, Sangria and Sex...

Set on the Costa De Sol the show was hyped up to have all the right ingredients for a European smash hit; the BBC poured at least 10 million pounds into it and the TV critics sharpened their knives - and when the first show was transmitted they had a field day.

Reaction

Julia Smith had cast the show, and although there was a hardcore of excellent British actors, most of the youngsters had be recruited for their looks rather than their dramatic talents. This was combined with a bewildering large cast all introduced in episode one speaking in numerous accents. Launching the series in the middle of the summer didn't help matters and viewing figures, which began at over seven million, fell as low as 2 million.

Who's going on the Bus Trip?

Corinne Hollingworth (an ex-Eastenders Producer too) replaced Julia Smith in the autumn of 1992, and the industry rumour was that a large number of the cast were to be killed off in a coach crash. Although this didn't happen, a lot of characters began to leave, most of them of the good-looking, non-acting, variety. The script editors were finally moved out to Spain and the series began a remarkable turnround. By now, however, the powers-that-be that had commisioned the series had also been replaced and the new head of BBC1 axed the showin March 1993. Production continued until May, and the last episode was transmitted in July. Directing Episode 155 (13K)

Directing Eldorado

Discussing the script with Jesse Birdsall and Sandra Sandri, and trying to ignore the view.
I arrived in Spain a month before the announcement to axe the show - I had finished my first block of shooting at 8pm and the announcement was made at the Hotel Sol at 9pm. Despite that everyone worked very hard in the last few months and the atmosphere was surprisingly cheerful. The production had three units - Laurel was a two-camera vehicle, Hardy (the fat one) was a three-camera unit, and there was a unnamed Chevy van housing a single camera unit. Hardy rarely left the site. You were encouraged to use multi-camera shooting but when time was running short and lighting conditions difficult often ended up using just one camera, even when using Hardy. Rehearsals had almost ceased completly by the time I arrived, so your 9-10 day shooting block, with lots of locations and travelling, soon disappeared. I met up with a lot of old collegues in Spain, as most of the camera department had be recruited from the BBC, not to mention some Brookside refugees, and the cast were on the whole great to work with.
My final block was episodes 154/5/6 leaving the final episode to Geoff Feld (see my Camera Career page). The episode numbers are plus one because an earlier block of three was condensed to two - a whole episode had been shot as a two-hander between Bunny and Fizz. The Last Scene (13K) These final episodes were particularly frantic, as we were using up the next six months storyline in the last month, cast were going out of contract, and people were having leaving parties every night! As Geoff finished shooting before me, I called a wrap on the last scene ever shot - which involved Blair Lockhead, Marcus' Alpine, a gun and a herd of goats.
Eldorado logo There is a good web site, Los Barcos Online about Eldorado which although currently offline (as of 6th Jan 1999) may have returned to www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~wayneb/eldorado , or you might like to check out a new site at www.internet1.co.uk/supersoap/eldorado.html
Stop Press - To see Wayne's latest Los Barcos pictures, click HERE

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