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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.