Mark Benton narrates a clip show looking at the Brits when they go abroad, somewhere he claims to be 'far away - outlandish, exotic and scary. Frankly, we're terrified of it.'.
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We are British.
Look at us.
We don't like strange places.
We don't like new experiences.
For the first time since we left Manchester,
Grandpa was getting a little anxious.
We don't like foreign languages.
If you don't know what you want in a restaurant,
just show this up and just point!
We don't like unfamiliar food...
Fish and chips, pint of English ale and all the trimmings.
..unfamiliar surroundings or unfamiliar customs.
We don't like too much sun, too much heat,
too much cold or too much anything.
All we really want is a decent cup of tea.
Deep in our hearts, we know we're not going to get one.
Now the water. Our advice would be don't drink it.
We're British and we're going abroad.
Welcome to The Great British Foreign Holiday.
This sceptered isle.
This precious stone set in a silver sea.
Rubbish summers, though.
But that was when we went on holiday, so we made the most of it.
Until the '60s, thrilling meant a ride on a donkey.
And exotic meant a slice of lemon with your fish and chips.
Extreme sports meant going to the beach without a windbreak.
It was all we wanted, because it was all we knew.
Dinner at five o'clock, breakfast at nine o'clock, and everything is in the same place as it was last time.
We'd heard there was somewhere else out there, but we knew it wasn't for us.
This mythical land of milk and honey had a name.
It was called... abroad!
We're off on a holiday journey.
All that you need is a passport.
Abroad was invented by the Romans.
They stood on a hill and said, "I wonder what's over there - let's invade it!"
When they got there, they discovered it was a bit dirty and uncivilised.
That floor will be all mud!
It's all mud anyway, Mother, a bit more won't hurt.
So the Romans rebuilt it, to be as much like home as possible.
The British picked up this magnificent idea and ran with it.
Pubs, discos, greasy spoons, high-rises...
From Bombay to Benidorm, we decided the only way
to really experience the richness and diversity of the globe
is to make it as much like Essex as possible.
That way, like the Romans said, it might be rubbish, but at least we know what we're getting!
# You what, you what, you what, you what, you what! #
Here's a thought from 17th-century poet John Milton...
# You what, you what, you what! #
Our great grandfathers used to have the time of their lives, often no further from home than up the river.
Romance achieved marvels at Bolters Lock.
Very few in those days thought of going abroad.
The British are an island race.
Abroad is really abroad - not just across the border but actually over the horizon.
It's far away, outlandish, exotic and scary.
Frankly, we're terrified of it.
And why wouldn't we be?
Throughout history, Brits largely went abroad for two reasons. To kill people...
..or to get killed.
If it wasn't the Crusades, it was the Anglo-Dutch War,
the 100 Years War, the Second Anglo-Dutch War...
..the War of Jenkins' Ear, the Third Anglo-Dutch War...
There's loads more. Basically, you really didn't want to go.
Despite this, there were some Brits who went abroad of their own accord.
Explorers, adventurers, pirates.
Then there were pilgrims, who were mad.
Or aristocrats doing the grand tour, who were also mad from either in-breeding or syphilis.
That just left us lot - the peasants.
You couldn't really get time off from being a peasant.
No. A holiday was half an hour scraping scabs off your leg.
Going to the next village was foreign.
Going 20 miles was the equivalent of going to Madagascar.
But then, someone came up with the idea of the British Empire,
and that's when foreign travel really took off.
All the peasants were given a tin hat and a bayonet and turned into soldiers.
They were sent off to places like Belgium and the Sudan.
Right up until the end of World War Two, beaches were dangerous places.
You stormed them, covered them in barbed wire and hoped you wouldn't get your backside shot off.
But in 1950, all that changed.
That year some British people sat on a beach and realised no-one was shooting at them.
The sun was shining, the food was quite nice and the people were friendly.
They were having something strange and unfamiliar - a nice time.
A toast to all of us.
We work all the year round and we deserve champagne.
Then they realised they weren't in Britain, but...
abroad! And at a stroke, the foreign holiday was born.
So let's go to another country and enjoy ourselves.
Right... Where are we going to go?
Shall we go to Spain? Sun, sea, sand and sangria?
Skiing in St Moritz?
A safari in Senegal?
Surfing in St Lucia?
Damn it! There's too much choice!
We need some help!
Fortunately, it's all been taken care of.
We're British and we know our place so like most of our choices, it's all pre-determined.
Tourism has created a new British Empire.
If you're upper-class, you go here, here or here.
Unless you have a yacht, in which case you go here.
If you're middle-class, you go here, here or here.
If you're working-class, you go here or here.
And for that, you can thank one man.
No, not him. That's Thomas Cook.
He was no slouch. He invented travel agents, excursions and travellers' cheques
but he didn't come up with a package holiday.
That was this bloke.
Vladimir Raitz was born in the Soviet Union and made a fortune sending Brits abroad.
He figured out that if you chartered your own plane and had somewhere
to stick people when they got there, you could send them on holiday for half the cost of a scheduled flight.
His first plane left Britain in May 1950 with 32 passengers.
They stayed in tents made out of old US Army canvas, drank the local wine -
the stuff they used to strip paint from German tanks - and ate meat twice a day.
That might not sound much. I eat meat twice an hour!
But meat-rationing didn't end in Britain until 1954.
The whole thing cost 32 quid,
equivalent in today's money of £650.
So that's 650 quid for a week in an army base, eating meat!
For most people, that was still unthinkably expensive.
They had to content themselves with looking at models of other people's holidays in windows!
There's no place like home, but there's nothing like
a rainy, miserable day when you've nothing special to do and nowhere particular to go,
to make you think of sunny shores and snow-capped mountains and places far away across the horizon.
Perhaps it's the thought of doing something you've never done before,
of seeing, at least once in your life, places where only the rich folks can afford to go.
It feeling that gets you on a rainy day
when you want to find out what the rest of the world looks like.
But the package-tour idea slowly took off and the price came down.
By the mid-'60s, abroad was suddenly within people's reach.
# We're all going on a summer holiday... #
Before the 1960s, the whole business was insanely complicated.
You'd get your Thomas Cook international timetable and you'd buy the travel guide,
figure out how to get from Euston to Paris via Antwerp, Marseilles and Naples,
book a taxi, a train, a boat,
another taxi, a ferry, a team of porters with donkeys,
a cook, a translator and a donkey mechanic.
All this without the World Wide Web!
The package-tour boys kicked all that into touch.
You popped into a travel agent, they spoke to you like a child for 20 minutes, and that was that.
'The travel adviser was extremely helpful and put my wife at ease right away
'by answering all the little queries that bother a family putting to sea for the first time.
'What clothes should we take? How should we set about booking a hotel in Melbourne?
'And what was the best way of getting from Melbourne to Brisbane?'
It was now so simple that even Grandpa here could arrange a surprise holiday.
'what are you doing about YOUR holiday?'
-You don't mean?
-Yes, I DO mean...
And this is what we are doing about our holidays and you must choose where we're going to stay.
Well, Spain, of course, Grandpa.
You know I've always wanted to go to Spain.
Well, Mary and Sue went last year with their mother and father
with Gaytours, and they had a wonderful time!
Right, Spain it is. And tomorrow I'm going to book the tickets.
We decided to go to Tossa De Mar. And grandpa went the following day and booked the holiday.
A few weeks later he picked up the tickets.
There was incredibly little to it.
There was no fuss, no trouble at all.
The agent told me that the price of the holiday was inclusive and that there would be no extras to pay.
Gaytours couriers would always be available on our holiday if we needed help or advice.
As soon as we've recovered from the trauma of deciding where to go
and booking the trip, we start losing sleep over what to pack.
And here's some sound advice from journalist Susan Heller...
Right, let's go!
Start with the three S's -
sandals, socks and shorts.
Oh, and shirts!
# I'm too sexy for my shirt... #
Take some plastic bags. That is one of the unbreakable rules of travel -
you have to take some plastic bags.
No-one knows what for. Maybe there are no plastic bags in Malta.
You'd think once you've decided what to pack, your nightmare is over.
Don't be ridiculous!
-You need to know
-Now, look at the way we've done this.
We've put some toiletries in a plastic bag,
so these are not going to leak over your clothes.
Look at how these have been packed.
These have been packed very, very flat, and the main thing
is to fold them so you don't get sharp creases in the clothes.
So we've laid them in flat at the bottom of the case
and then we've put other items on top of them
so the creases are not quite as sharp.
-Seven pairs of boxer shorts there, Nick.
-Thank you very much.
I usually take 12 - one for each month. But, anyway, go on.
Before we had suitcases, we had trunks -
a massive box carried by servants.
It had to be big. You were taking everything you owned.
You were going on the grand tour.
And according to 18th-century traveller Tobias Smollett,
you needed, and I quote...
"Pistols, knives, tinderbox, map,
"half a dozen shirts capable of withstanding the ferocious treatment
"of continental washerwomen, one pair of waterproof buckskin breaches and, of course,
"50 fathoms of waxed string for measuring the height of columns and circumference of pillars in ruins."
Oh, and some plastic bags.
The grand tour was the gap year of the 18th century.
If you were posh, a bit thick and your parents had a few hundred grand to waste,
you'd head off to the cultural hotspots of Europe
to learn about stuff like art, architecture and how to kill people in a duel,
do some wenching and catch syphilis.
It required a large staff of servants, tutors
and locals prepared to carry all your stuff over the Alps.
The grand tourist was deemed a proper English gentleman,
worldly-wise, pox-ridden and skint.
He was the ancestor of the modern tourist in every way.
The important thing to remember when packing
is that abroad is incredibly dangerous, so best be prepared.
# Feelin' hot, hot, hot... #
For starters, take some sunscreen.
-This could be a bit shocking for our audience!
I don't know whether they're ready for this.
Have you had your braces facing the wrong way?
No, I didn't have my braces on.
Take insect repellent.
The mosquitoes here are plucky, so bring some of this, too.
It doesn't bring the swelling down but it does stop you scratching.
Bring this, well, whatever that is.
It's no good for them. They're sand flies.
For them, you need some of this.
-It's not perfect, but it helps.
-What was that again?
And of course you must remember to bring a pair of forceps.
They're for taking out the spines of sea urchins.
-Even then you're not safe!
-But the salt water is very good
for prickly heat and skin rashes. You get a lot of that out here.
It's the humidity, which is always somewhere around about 90%... Ooh!
Oh, he's hurt himself! What's he done?
That can give you very nasty septicaemia, too.
Oh, pretty fish!
If you step on the spines of a stone fish,
-you've at least half an hour to live.
-Poisonous fish? God!
Make sure you pack your sandals, or a pair of wellies! Ow!
You can always kill it before it kills you.
Or get one of the locals to kill it.
So, having decided what to pack, we could finally leave.
We can start to relax and enjoy our holiday
just as soon as we've dealt with the minor inconvenience of getting there!
Here's a thought about getting there from Mark Twain...
He, er, didn't invite me back this year.
Whitsun, and the world goes on holiday.
A well-dressed, orderly world.
For years, the great problem with travelling abroad by train was the English Channel.
No matter how much speed you got up through Kent, you just couldn't drive a train across it.
You had to get on a train, get off a train, get on a boat, throw up,
get off the boat, get on another train, and you were still nowhere near wherever you wanted to be
unless it was Calais, or the other Calais - Boulogne - which, let's face it, probably wasn't.
Until the invention of the aeroplane, if you wanted to leave Britain, you needed a boat.
Our primitive ancestors used dug-out canoes.
Since then we've added layers of sophistication, engineering and design know-how
to create the cross-channel ferry.
It differs from the dug-out canoe in several crucial ways.
It's got lifeboats, a duty-free shop,
a captain to make you feel like you're on a proper ship,
and endless amusements to take your mind off the fact that you feel sick.
It feels like crossing the channel on a washing machine.
The ferry was briefly knocked off its perch by the hovercraft until
they realised it couldn't travel in anything more than a gentle breeze.
It was impossible to go further than the other end of the harbour without everyone on board throwing up.
It was like crossing the channel in a washing machine!
The buzz word was hover.
You sat back to enjoy the hover-view with a nice cup of hover-tea
and hoped you wouldn't feel hover-sickand need to ask for a hover-bag
Over the years, there have been many fanciful and downright lunatic ideas
for getting over this narrow stretch of sea.
Getting over the channel was basically horrible, however you did it.
What we needed was a bloody great tunnel,
and in the '90s that's what we got.
'Her Majesty was to travel in the new Eurostar passenger train
'along the first land link between Britain and the Continent since the Ice Age.'
We were joined to the Continent forever.
Or until someone fills it in.
Suddenly, abroad was only half an hour away.
I think it will encourage international travel.
It will, I suppose, in a few years become commonplace, but today it's very special.
Tunnels were all very well, but since the dawn of time, mankind's ultimate dream has been to slip
the bonds of gravity and soar like birds, airborne, unfettered, free.
In the 20th century, that dream finally became a reality.
Now we have Ryanair.
Come back, gravity - all is forgiven.
In the 1940s, it took six days to fly from London to Nice,
with refuelling stops at Brighton, Calais and Paris,
and a toilet break at a motorway services just outside Lyon.
'Having taken off into the wind, we turn towards our destination.
'The captain discusses points of interest on the way.
'We pass over Littlehampton, the English coast and the Channel, then the French coast.
'That should give you a good clue as to where we're going.'
'This passenger couldn't care less.
'And here is the end of our journey in sight.
'But where are we? Amsterdam?
'No, not flat enough.
'It's built on the hillside in the form of terraces.
'Did you say Lisbon?'
No, I didn't say anything.
These days you get to choose where you go BEFORE you take off.
'London. From Heathrow and other airports
'in the country, millions this year will fly to the Continent for their holidays and even further afield.
'This is the holiday pattern of the jet age.'
In the early days, air travel was exclusive and luxurious, mimicking the glamour of the railways -
the Orient Express, the Flying Scotsman and...
the other one.
It was the preserve of the wealthy and sophisticated
and the pilot even came out to show you where you were going.
Shouldn't he be in the cockpit?
'You will dine superbly, watch an in-flight movie you choose.
'You will sample attentive cabin service as BOAC lifts you far across
'the Atlantic in an atmosphere of quiet and English comfort.'
Everyone went in first class.
It was only years later that someone pulled back that little curtain and realised they had 200 empty seats
back there, and they started letting scum like us on board.
MUSIC: "The Birdie Song" by The Tweets
'This is the main disadvantage of flying on a package holiday charter.
'The seats are closer together because they pack 119 people on these planes
'compared with 80 or 90 on a regular run by the same aircraft.'
We shall be serving lunch, sir, in about ten minutes.
But not if you're in economy. Your meal was actually built into the aircraft at the Boeing factory.
'Seat-back catering is something you don't find on scheduled flights.
'It's been heavily criticised for reasons of hygiene and by those who think service
'to the customer is more important than the tour company's budget.'
And after you've eaten, perhaps you might fancy a cigarette.
Until the 1980s, it was illegal not to smoke on planes!
If you were caught in the toilets trying to get a bit of fresh air,
you'd be arrested on landing!
Anyway, it's time to extinguish all cigarettes and fasten your seatbelts. We're about to land.
'Just two hours from London, each day dozens of chartered jets
'unload their pale-faced passengers at Ibiza Airport.'
Finally, we're in a foreign country.
Oh, God, it's hot!
Why's it so hot?
Right, we need to get past the men in uniforms with guns.
Still, it'll be easy.
I'll just wave my British passport at them!
Before we joined the EU, the British passport was a huge, gold-embossed,
leather-bound volume designed to send a message to the world.
That message was... "Look here, Johnny,
"I'm a subject and close personal friend of Her Majesty the Queen.
"Mess with me and you'll find yourself in the Tower.
"Now, hurry along and fetch me a taxi."
It translates into every other language in the world as,
"I don't know who this idiot in the sandals thinks he is,
"but let's strip-search him, anyway."
..thank God that's over!
Exhausted, mentally shattered and physically wrecked. Never mind -
only a three-hour coach trip and we're on holiday!
Sorry, your rooms are not ready.
In fact, neither is your hotel!
Which hotel did you book in England?
The Carousel, just over there!
-Why are you laughing?
-Because we couldn't stay there
because one of the floors fell in and there was this great crack down the back!
In the brochure it says it was "Designed by experts, with cheerful bars and lazy sun terraces."
What went wrong with the Hotel Carousel?
What was wrong? I don't think nothing went wrong with the Hotel Carousel.
But you've got a crack through the middle of the hotel.
Well, it's not a crack - it's an expansion join.
But by no means at all is the holiday
the same as it's described in the brochure.
What about mini-golf?
The only place I think mini-golf could possibly go
from where we are at the moment now
is in this assault course that's here.
As the package boom took hold, Spanish developers went hotel-crazy.
If you were an elderly, Spanish peasant with a nice sea view from your hacienda, God help you!
So here we are. Hotel's only half-built, but who cares?
We're on holiday!
Juste cinq francs.
Sorry, what was that?
We realised that somehow we had to communicate with these people.
Three francs worth.
With this, is that sufficient for those?
But it was no good. They stubbornly refused to understand English.
-Each, some of each.
-Some of each.
Reluctantly, we decided to meet them halfway - the phrase book was born!
Allio. Allio, si.
'You could tell, she was really impressed!'
-Tomorrow, manana, is the first word they learn in Spanish.
-No, it isn't.
The first thing I learned was ...
Donde este el bar?
Then, later on, these came in handy.
Tengo la espalda muy quemada del sol.
Puede darme algo que ponerme?
And towards the end of the holiday...
Donde este el Consulado Britanico?
Came in handy.
Most of the waiters in the bars only speak enough
to serve you with a drink. They don't actually speak English.
Once you deviate from the subject that they're selling to you, they don't understand what you're saying.
Eventually, we resorted to this.
It turns out the universal language isn't love - it's pictures of crabs!
If you don't know what you want in a restaurant,
just show this up and just point to the appropriate thing.
-This always assumes the waiter is quite intelligent.
-And they should understand what you want.
-That's probably very good.
After a few years of this, we found the perfect solution to dealing with the locals.
We brought our own locals, in the form of holiday reps.
They were like the natives - friendly, knowledgeable,
but called Pat or Simon, not Fernando or Azouz.
Welcome to our little island of Ibiza.
I'd like to introduce myself and my name is Pat.
We thought they were our friends.
We were nervous, and they smiled at us and spoke English.
They were in uniform - we always liked that.
Right, at last we can get on with our holiday.
I'll just... I'll just nip to the loo.
All aspects of going abroad make the British anxious,
and nothing makes the British more anxious than toilets!
Combine the two, and it's like an anxiety bomb.
'Standards vary enormously, but they're often very basic,
'a hole-in-the-ground type.
'And you have to usually pay about 5 pence before you enter to the person in the booth outside.
'Don't forget to wait for your ration of toilet paper.
'It's not a bad idea to carry some spare in case of emergency.'
Anyway, let's try and relax and get in the holiday mood.
The sun is shining, everything is beautiful.
We're a million miles from the daily grind of our miserable lives and the world is fresh and new,
full of pleasure and promise of the simple joy of being alive.
Right, to hell with that! I'm bored!
Let's have some fun!
Hang on. We've been here for hours and we haven't been to the beach.
Are we mad? Come on!
Grab the two towels, the hat, the straw beach mats,
the factor 10, 15, 25, 40, 60...
..sunglasses, lilo, plastic bag for wet stuff...
Oh, that's what they're for!
..camera, book, radio, another hat,
a bottle of water, snacks, icebox.
Right, we're ready!
'The call of the sun - irresistible!
'What an age it seems since we were all happy to go to the nearest seaside place and sit on the pier.'
The beach is the edge of the world.
Normal rules don't apply on the sand.
Society's rules are abandoned and a dizzying sense of freedom takes hold.
MUSIC: "Mr Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra
Wait a minute! None of these people are British.
We're over there.
We are now playing for big prizes!
Let's face it, we're not the best at enjoying ourselves.
The idea of losing our inhibitions makes us feel a bit awkward and unhappy.
Given the opportunity for raucous, madcap fun, this is what WE do.
The pedalo was originally designed to emulate
the comfort and manoeuvrability of a World War Two landing craft.
Actually, it would be more fun if you were being strafed with machine-gun fire while driving it!
Gradually, gingerly, we put down our newspapers and began to join in!
The Continentals simply kept up the pressure so we were worn down and agreed to have some fun.
But then, much to our surprise, we discovered we had THESE...
Suddenly, Britain had baps,
and was getting them out all over the Mediterranean.
Maggie, tell me what happened to you?
Well last year we went on holiday to Corfu
and everyone was topless there
and Paul asked me, just for a bet,
he bet me that for £10 if I dare take the top of my bikini off.
And it's something I'd never done before,
so just on impulse, you know, I did,
because I thought I'll shock him, you know,
I'll get £10 out of him! And it felt so good to be like that,
you know, I never put it back on the whole time that we were there.
This poor lad is slowly realising what his first day back at school is going to be like.
"Hey, Danny, we saw your mum on telly!"
Here's a top travel tip from Rudyard Kipling...
Right, lunchtime, what's on offer back in the hotel?
No fear of Spanish Tummy with roast beef, liver and onions with chips.
The food in the hotel made the food on the plane taste like Gordon Ramsay's Christmas dinner.
It took us a long time to twig that none of the people who worked in the kitchens ate this rubbish.
They went a hundred yards down the road and had something fabulous.
'Here, as everywhere in this part of Italy, the preparation of food is a worthy end in itself.
'An art lovingly and critically appreciated by cook and customer alike.'
Eventually, under cover of darkness and after checking our insurance,
we followed the locals, and our world changed.
'Keith and Ann decide to try a local speciality - calamari, or squid.
Keith and Ann thought you couldn't get better than a nice shepherd's pie.
Oh, yes, you can!
Squid, sea urchin, spider crab, wild boar, stingray...
We'd only seen these in zoos, not on plates,
but it turned out these animals were not dangerous.
They were delicious!
Even the bread was nice!
What kind of world had we stumbled upon?
We even ate al fresco.
Until we went on holiday, the only reason we ate outdoors
was if we were working on a building site,
we'd lost our keys or we'd forgotten it was Britain and had a picnic.
But here, everyone ate outdoors, and they enjoyed it!
And they drank coffee, which is just as well, as you couldn't get a decent cup of tea.
God knows, we tried!
'We were very struck with these rules and straightaway I put the hotel to the test by asking for a cup of tea.'
'However exotic your surroundings, there is always time on your holiday
'for the one thing the English never like to be long without - a cup of tea.'
If there's one thing we can show the rest of the world how to do
with style, elegance and the kind of louche, carefree joviality that has made the British tourist
so respected and admired around the world, it's drink.
When we're on holiday, we like a drink.
As far as I'm concerned, well, it wouldn't be a holiday without a drink.
Whether it's tequila or Tuscan wine, we sniff out whatever the locals sip, buy it by the bucket-load
and binge-drink like the world's about to end.
Well, literally, we just drink as much as we can
and it depends on where we go, and we just thoroughly ourselves.
After a few bucketfuls of lager, ouzo, grappa, retsina,
Pernod and an absinthe chaser, we're in the mood to party.
# Let's all do the conga Let's all do the conga
# Na, na, na, nah Na, na, na, nah
# Let's all do the conga Let's all do the conga... #
Let's go to a discotheque!
MUSIC: "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer
'It's a very touristy place, and very commercialised.
'I don't really think I'm in another country.
'We don't see much of the real Spain, but I enjoy the discos.
'You just go into a pub, and there's disco music and you just get up and dance.
'It's not like that at home.'
I should think not. You'd get in the way of the dartboard!
Then we wake up the next morning and find the world has ended. Ooh!
That's also when we find that the local cuisine has its limitations.
It might be good at the end of the day, but at breakfast time, it just doesn't cut the mustard.
I miss my morning breakfast - eggs and bacon.
I like my rolls but you get a roll here but that's only like...
-what do you call it?
-We don't want hard-boiled eggs and honey.
We don't want yoghurt, croissants, dates or fish.
We need fried eggs, we need bacon and... Oh, to hell with it - another lager, then.
Between the '60s and the '80s, three out of every five flights
from the UK was heading for the Spanish coast,
and one of them was full of eggs and bacon.
British tourists ate their own bodyweight
in fat every morning for two weeks then got straight down the beach.
MUSIC: "Agadoo" by Black Lace
Breakfast, beach, bar, bed.
Breakfast, beach, bar, bed.
Bar, beach, bed.
Breakfast, bar, bed.
And after, oh, about five days of this,
we're feeling a bit empty inside, a bit guilty.
Perhaps we had better do something cultural.
Our mates, the holiday reps, were waiting for this moment to pounce and sell us some excursions.
Apparently, there are two five o'clocks in the day, and one of them is in the morning,
and that's when the coach leaves to go to that monastery/amphitheatre/vineyard.
Whatever it is, it's good for us.
Well, it'll absorb some of the shame so we can get on with the drinking!
'Today our hostess has organised a coach trip to the Dolomites,
'the mountains just across the Italian frontier.
'And so we set off in a comfortable coach, passing by a constant panorama of chalets and mountains.
'The observation coach offers excellent views.
'In fact, it's difficult to know which side to look for the best.
'The coach driver knows every inch of the way
'and soon we reach a small town just beyond the Italian frontier.'
Ever since the days of the grand tour, poking around some ruins
has been an essential activity for the British on holiday.
This is the Sphinx -
the guardian of the sacred enclosure of the second pyramid,
and is the most celebrated monument here.
And if there's a saint or a pharaoh named after them, you can charge what you like! We're in!
Oh, and don't worry - if you get tired, you can pay the locals to enjoy the culture for you!
1, 2, 3!
You don't get that at Stonehenge!
They're very clever, those people, you know.
That's their business, you know.
Churches are always good for trowelling on the guilt.
You'll walk out with five postcards, a couple of candles, some brass rubbings and a pewter model
of St Barnabus's right knee, the one he knelt on the leper with, you know.
35 Euros, thank you.
As if the peasants don't have enough to do all day in the fields, they have to dance for us, too!
We feel we're getting a bit more culture.
They seem to be enjoying themselves.
That's because they own the venue and we're drinking a lot.
Also, they're safe in the knowledge that in 20 minutes time,
they'll be watching the semi-final of the X-Factor on their 42-inch flat-screen. We get their culture -
they get our pop culture. Fair swap!
These peasants, I tell you, they work hard!
They've got to get up the next morning to flog us all their
old bits and bobs ooh, I'm sorry, handicrafts.
We've got to bring something home, haven't we, other than hotel towels and peeling skin.
The local market provides us with the perfect opportunity. Hee-hee, look at that!
ARCHIVE: Most Spanish towns have their flea markets, called
rastros and this one, in Palma, is as colourful as any.
This rastro has been held every Saturday morning for as long as anyone can remember.
It brings two sides of the island together, as tourists and traders mingle.
With their children safely in the hands of a Vista Jet nanny, Keith and Ann have plenty of time to browse...
..even if some were made last week.
Still, there's always a taker...
and a loser.
Oh, well, it'll do for Aunt Edna.
It looks like Keith would rather be back home doing his milk round!
'Was it a bargain?
Have a bit of foresight when buying.
Will we have enough space in the loft for that?
And another thing Brits like to buy on holiday are ridiculous hats.
'What a surprise it turned out to be.
'I knew at last that Grandpa was really enjoying his holiday.'
'Aboard our ship, they compete for the prize given to the one with the most inventive turn of mind,
'the best-decorated hat made up from anything
'they can find lying around on deck, in the restaurants or in the cabins.
'The winner always wins, but if she hadn't won, she would have eaten her hat but the judge decided to.'
But what do we do when there's no price tag?
We're British! We panic!
'Come to the old city. Learn how to haggle.
'It's he customer's right and the salesman's duty.
'It make take hours to strike a bargain, but haggling is the custom of ages.'
Haggling might be the custom of the ages, but we're scared of it!
There are a few hawkers around here that you will come across. You are fair game outside the coach.
If you don't want to buy anything, don't look at them in the eyes, OK?
If you're actually too scared to look the locals in the eyes, maybe you should have gone somewhere else!
But other types of holiday experience are available. Really?
Yes, if you are a middle-class Brit you feel vaguely guilty all the time about the environment, about having
all the nice houses, about sending your kids to public school, about everything, really, especially
if you're ever enjoying yourself, you feel really guilty about that.
Hey, don't worry, there's plenty of holidays tailored to take all the fun out for you!
You just pretend you're learning something, improving yourself, getting fitter, whatever.
It might be bird-watching, yoga or bread-making,
maybe a spot of archaeology, sculpture in your hotel room.
And if you wanted to experience what it's like to walk around with no clothes on, you could
walk around with no clothes on!
Oh, they are travelling light!
When you come to Estepona, you're going to find sun and if it an all-over tan you're after, you
could do no better than to head for the only nudist beach on the entire
Costa Del Sol, and when you're here, be prepared to strip off and enjoy it - that's what it's all about!
But if you like wearing lots and lots of clothes, maybe this is more your thing.
Skiing was the original activity holiday.
The well-off daddy of upstart children like scuba-diving or bungee-jumping.
Skiing used to be the preserve of the posh people. How posh?
Because they owned all the mountains, and most of the snow.
I've been here as often as I've been able to, ever since I was 12 years old.
It was like Mayfair-on-ice!
How very kind the people were and how very, very helpful.
It rather reminded me of during the war in England.
Then, gradually, some people who were just plain posh came along.
One of the most spectacular parts of Switzerland.
50 minutes later I could see St Moritz,
where I was going to meet the young Swiss ski instructor I first knew in London when he was studying English.
There he is! Simon!
I could hardly believe my ears when the pilot said we were going to land on the lake.
I hope it's frozen hard enough!
The very posh didn't like this - standards were slipping.
They were right! Soon enough, the package holiday rabble were in on
the act, and the whole thing went to hell in a handcart!
# Jingle bells, jingle bells Jingle all the way
# Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open sleigh! #
Oh, my God!
The very posh people didn't like all the commoners on the mountains,
so they bought islands and sloped off to the Caribbean.
Many thanks. See you later, goodbye.
But if you found all this luxury a bit daunting, there was no need to worry.
You could always go camping!
Camping was like going on holiday but without the pleasure.
The British section of the Colombier campsite, in the South of France.
Now, the campers did not have to bring these tents or any of the equipment in them.
They didn't even have the bother of putting up the tents.
It was all here, ready and waiting, when they arrived from Britain.
Never mind expansion joints in your hotel - this is what you'd
stay in if the entire resort had been destroyed in an earthquake.
Still, at least the toilets have seats.
Even wilful discomfort has its limits!
That's what's always said holiday to me - hot fat splashing on bare skin!
I just rub it in and call it factor 5!
Camping is many things - cheap, practical, cheap...
and cheap, but what it's not is sexy.
If it's romance you're after, there are much better places to look.
Such as...the Love Boat!
Cruising usually means the chance of meeting someone new, even, who knows,
someone you might marry.
But anyhow, I think
of course I would have married her, but she found out my age when she got hold of my passport.
-How about the men? How have you found them?
Yes, that's a good question.
Pretty damn awful, on the whole.
She's a good-looker,
and she goes on and she's got plenty of money.
Her father left her £22,000.
Some men are all right. There are a few dirty old men.
One picks them out easily and quickly and disposes of them.
What sort of chap is she looking for, do you know?
-Did she tell you?
-I think she wants a younger man. She wants someone with
a bit of go. An athlete sort of fellow, you know,
that will do a little gymnast sort of thing.
She wants somebody like... She's very good herself.
She's a bit of a gymnast herself.
She can get on the floor and twist herself over.
All this, and 22,000 too?
I'm not sure if I'm feeling lovesick or seasick!
Let's get back on dry land!
Holidays mean exotic places and romance is always in the air.
In a glamorous place like this, romance can be very hard to resist, and it can change your life.
Well, I was in Spain on holiday, I was divorced, had three children, I was 36 years old.
I think I've been just one of life's many frogs, hoping desperately that
one day I would find a handsome prince to kiss me and
turn me into a beautiful princess and in fact, when David came along, that's exactly what happened!
But if you're older than 17, and you're younger than 31, all this could be yours.
It was called Club 18/30, but it wasn't a club at all - it was a travel company.
They just put the word club in front to make people think
they were getting something special and exclusive, which is precisely the opposite of what they got.
Club 18/30 became notorious for its sex games.
These were basically traditional, innocent beach pastimes,
only without the innocence, or the tradition, or sometimes the beach.
It's pretty promiscuous over here.
Well, it's promiscuous in a lot of places in Spain, but Majorca more than anywhere.
I mean everything you read in the magazines, well, believe it!
It's around there somewhere, mate!
Here's a thought from Shakespeare about romance -
And he never even went to Magaluf!
When you turn 31, all the fun stops and you have to wait 20 years before it starts again.
ARCHIVE: Tango 506 was carrying some of the first of the 30,000 British old age
pensioners who have chosen to spend part of the winter in Spain.
That was in the '70s. These days, thousands more British nanas spend their British pensions in the Med.
Loads of them travel with an outfit called Social Amenities for the Golden Age, otherwise known as...
"Sex And Games For The Aged!"
One of the latest ones is "Send All Geriatrics Abroad."
Yeah, yeah, we get it, mate. It's SAGA.
One I heard last winter was "Start At Gatwick Airport."
They call it the grey pound.
It's worth as much as a normal pound except that it comes in coppers.
They spend it on gin, or tonic, or both.
It's cheaper than living in freezing England.
Do you really think it is cheaper in the long run?
Oh definitely! If you come for a long holiday, definitely!
You've no heating bills, you're warm, you're fed, you're looked after, and you have a lazy life!
Some of them like it so much, they tear up their return ticket,
cancel the milk, have the post redirected and end up staying.
What is so nice about the British ex-pat is the way they really blend in with the locals.
What makes life in Malta different from life in England?
Well the best thing is the sixpenny tax, really!
That's what I'm here for!
Well I think there's the freedom, the sunshine and the chance of doing the things you want to do
on a limited income instead of having to work darn hard to do
the same things in England with a fortnight or three weeks' holiday.
Ready, one, two, three!
So I find, of course, that I can live out here on very
small means indeed, quite happily, no fuss at all, very friendly people.
I'm Irish and I find the Maltese are extraordinarily like the Irish in some ways -
they have damn nice manners, they're very friendly, they're
quite inconsequential at all sorts of things and it amuses me and I find I'm just thoroughly happy here.
What does Malta conjure up for you?
Urm, I'm not sure, either, but I wasn't expecting this lot!
The middle classes, meanwhile, abandoned the beaches to the rabble...
ALL CHANTING: You what, you what, you what, you what, you what?
..and headed permanently for the Dordogne, Brittany, Provence or Tuscany.
They told anyone who would listen that the locals were hardworking,
honest and cultured, paid them peanuts to renovate their houses,
and wrote bestselling books about how they were lazy, mistrustful and stupid.
But for the rest of us, after the holiday, it's back to Blighty.
Here's what an imaginary science-fiction character has to say about holidays -
If you were one of the millions who travel back every year - then remember Duty Free?
Before 1999 we could all buy duty-free goods in the EU.
For many of us, this is why we started smoking and drinking in the first place.
It was bloody cheap!
You'd often hear this in a pub back home,
"Oi, Jake, can I scrounge a fag?" "Sorry, Paul, I've only got 270 left."
So, you and your straw donkeys have made it to the airport,
just in time for the second baggage handler strike of the summer.
I've been delayed now for two hours.
Should be another two now before we get any information,
so God knows what time we're going to take off tonight!
But that doesn't bother us.
We'll be back next year - we've already booked it!
We're British, and we like strange places,
new experiences, foreign food and foreign people.
We like too much heat, too much cold, too much sun, too much everything.
In fact, we love it!
But somewhere along the way,
something went horribly wrong.
50 years ago, a holiday meant a week in some drizzly seaside resort, a pint of milk stout and a pie.
The idea of sunning ourselves on a foreign beach was insanity.
But slowly we were led, blinking into the sunshine...
..and what was once the preserve of the wealthy became everyone's.
After years of air raids and rationing, half-built hotels
with expansion cracks down them seemed like paradise!
And now look at us! We've been everywhere, eaten everything, drunk everything.
If there's an experience to experience, we've experienced it, again, and again and again.
There's nowhere else to go,
but we've got a taste for it now, and we want more!
We want islands built in the sea, air-conditioned beaches, we want to
go on holiday under the ocean, at the North Pole, in outer-space. Oh stop, stop, I feel sick!
I want to go home!
The oil is running out, the money is all gone, the planes are destroying the planet.
Maybe it's time we sat on a drizzly beach again and wondered what's out there, over the horizon?
What's out there is abroad - outlandish, exotic and scary.
Maybe one day, if we save up, we can go there... Maybe...
Paradise, or at least paradise on earth is very much what you yourself make it. Let's have a bit of music.
What about Lure Of Tahiti? That sounds about the right sort of thing.
Oh really, that's not my colour, you know, it really isn't!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Mark Benton has been abroad, he knows all about it: 'The British are an island race - abroad is really abroad, not just across the border but actually over the horizon. It's far away - outlandish, exotic and scary. Frankly, we're terrified of it.'
The Brits, foreign travel and all points in between - how we got there, what we did there and how we got back.