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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Being on the Box – My interview on Spanish TV
13 May 2021 @ 02:57

In 2001, around the time of 9/11 in New York, Pablo de Ronda (aka Paul Whitelock) was interviewed by local TV in Liverpool, England. That year was the European Year of Languages and Paul was heading up several languages projects across Merseyside in his role as modern languages adviser for Sefton Council. Pablo recalls that he was really nervous and was not at all happy with the outcome. So when he was approached, as a foreign resident in the Ronda area, to be interviewed for a documentary on local TV, it came as something of a surprise when he said “Yes!”

Here's his story.

When my boss Karl Smallman approached me with this request I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Was I crazy? I’d done a TV interview 20 years previously in English in England and it was a scary experience. Why was I so readily saying “” to doing an interview in Spanish in Spain?

Then when I saw the FaceBook request from Charry TV, I responded again with a “” and a brief biography about my time here in Spain, namely 12 years as a resident with no regrets.

When I got PM’d by the journalist, Cheché (aka María José García) asking me to meet her on Friday 16 June for an interview at a place in Ronda that was special to me, I was delighted.

I chose the Parador de Turismo in Plaza de España, as that was the first place I ever stayed on my first ever visit to Andalucía to celebrate the Silver Anniversary of my marriage to my first wife, Jeryl.

I made sure I got there early to settle down and get comfortable.

I wonder what they’re going to ask me, I thought. Then Cheché and her cameraman Juan arrived. There was no script, no list of questions. We just set up the location in the lounge, they pinned a mike on me and off we went.

It’s odd, but I didn’t feel the least bit nervous. She asked questions and I did my best to answer them. It all felt very natural, more like a chat in a lounge in a parador with someone I’d just met. Oh, that’s exactly what this was, wasn’t it?

I was asked for a bit of background, the circumstances that brought me to Ronda, what persuaded me to come and live here full time, what I liked and didn’t like about life here. Then we moved onto questions around the Covid-19 pandemic and how I felt Spain and the UK respectively had dealt with the disaster.

I have strong views on this. I think Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has done well, especially at the beginning with that very severe lockdown. Most of my Spanish friends disagree with me and call me a socialist. OK. Fair cop! A Spanish socialist certainly, if I were allowed to vote in national elections here.

My views about Bojo’s feeble efforts in the UK are well-known amongst my British friends, many of them Conservatives, by the way, and they nearly all agree with me. The guy’s a buffoon and most of his cabinet are clowns. 

They all call me a socialist too. I’m actually not, having only voted red on three occasions, all three times tactically in a marginal seat to keep the Tory out (Warrington South in 1997, 2001 and 2005). I like to feel that my little effort contributed to the three largely successful governments of Tony Blair, a much-maligned politician, I fear.

I digress. Back to the interview.

I was also asked if I had any ideas for kick-starting tourism in the area.

My second wife Rita and I (10 years married and going on 11, my God!) have two rental properties, Villa Indiana in Ronda and Casa Rita in Montejaque, so I do have some considered thoughts, which I expressed in the interview.

Like many others I think the future lies with national tourism, ie with the Spanish (they represent a huge market and are already in the country, around 47 million of them, in fact!) and foreigners resident in Spain, who are also here and in common with their Spanish neighbours desperate to get away.

Secondly, in the Serranía de Ronda we should focus on rural tourism and how much safer that is, from a health and hygiene perspective, than, for example, a city break or a crowded beach resort.

What this area has to offer cannot be bettered anywhere. Stunning scenery, mountains, valleys, pueblos blancos, outdoor activities like cycling, hiking, horse-riding, which some of the other people interviewed for this documentary offer.

Additionally available are those very dangerous activities that take place up in the air, like paragliding, micro-lighting and hot-air balloon flights. Also activities that take place on or in water, like water skiing, windsurfing and canyoning.

Each to his own, although a balloon flight over Ronda, I must confess, is on my bucket list.

There is abundant wildlife with wild boar, ibex, goats and toros bravos, as well as normal run-of-the-mill farm animals. The birdwatching opportunities are amazing.

The interview ended with a promise that I would be sent a copy of the programme which was scheduled for broadcast that very evening.

If you’ve not seen it and have a spare couple of hours, why not have a look? The link is below. It’s a very interesting documentary.

I asked Charry TV whether it could be put on YouTube to gain a wider audience (Charry TV Ronda is a subscription channel only). They agreed and it’s there on YouTube now. You can view the whole programme by clicking here.

I subsequently asked Cheché if she would write an article in Spanish about the programme for the Secret Serranía website, which she was glad to do. You can read it here.

There is also an English version, here.

Another interviewee, Carolyn Emmett, a montejaqueña by adoption, has written a delightful piece about her interview. It was what inspired me to write this. Click here.

No doubt, some of the other interviewees might also write something. Let’s hope so. They’re all very interesting people.

Note:

There is a follow-up article by Secret SerranIa website owner Karl Smallman, which provides more information about the people interviewed. You can read it here.



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