TV review: Magaluf? I’d rather go to Scarborough

Sharon Horgan (right) meeting "ladies with similar amounts of gumption". Photograph: BBC
14 Jan 2013 @ 9.50 am
| Entertainment

The Truth About Magaluf (BBC Three)

lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwMadness in Magaluf, mid-life crises, mistresses and massive shoulder pads meet the gaze of TV critic Lucy Bellerby


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Stacey Dooley is back with another one of her hard hitting documentaries (The Truth about Magaluf: Stacey Dooley Investigates, BBC Three), with past subjects including the Mexico/USA border crossing and female prisons. Now she’s turned her investigative skills to Magaluf, and the hoards of revolting Brits that vomit their way through the town every holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong – Stacey is lovely. She’s caring and compassionate and always seems to become best friends with everyone after five minutes. However, much of the programme features her looking absolutely bewildered, as she pokes teenagers from Slough that have passed out in the road with their pants round their ankles. “You OK hunny?” she asks nervously, before shrugging to the camera and moving off to wrinkle her nose at a condom on a sun lounger.

Every single incident she encounters is met with a wide eyed “I had no idea this was happening!”. She is confused by cleaning a hotel room, weird smells, the size of cocktails; she is Luton’s answer to Giselle from Disney’s Enchanted.

Nevertheless, she does a good job of showing us the awfulness of Magaluf, as hundreds of topless blood-soaked “lads” with 12 pints and a full English in their bellies do their best to smash up hotel swimming pools (and other people’s faces) with plastic chairs.

On a serious note, the programme also touches on the high levels of assaults and alcohol related deaths and injuries, and overall paints a pretty dismal picture of the destination and British holiday makers. When you realise that his is part of a series that has explored gun crime and drug cartels, you might want to cancel that EasyJet ticket and have a nice weekend in Scarborough instead.

Sharon Horgan (right) meeting "ladies with similar amounts of gumption". Photograph: BBC
Sharon Horgan (right) meeting “ladies with similar amounts of gumption”. Photograph: BBC

Sharon Horgan is my new favourite person (On The Verge Of A Midlife Crisis With Sharon Horgan). This is her first foray into documentaries/presenting, deviating from her day job writing/acting/being hilarious in programs like BBC Three’s Pulling. She’s brilliantly deadpan and honest, and in this programme meets ladies with similar amounts of gumption who are in the throes of mid life crises.

First off is Nikki, a business woman powerhouse from the Hilary Devey (the fierce northern one from Dragon’s Den) school of massive shoulder pads, being REALLY HARD and “not lerrin people gerrin the way of me dreams”. She hit her 40s and everything went wrong; but instead of wallowing she got right back up and battled, making herself rich and successful in the process.

Then we meet Gaynor, whose husband left her for her next door neighbour. But she’s had the last laugh, as she belted her husband’s mistress round the chops and is now enjoying tons of attention (and sex) from fit young lads who apparently “go at it like a steam train”.

One woman who I wasn’t jealous of was Bea. Bea looked a little like an ageing character from Avatar, had James Cameron taken inspiration from The Only Way Is Essex. Her mad tattooed on eyebrows almost reach her hair line, making her look like an inquisitive transsexual, and the only thing that moves even a little bit is her tight, puffy lips.

She’s a walking advert for not having plastic surgery – she even had a dimple filled in (who knew that was a thing?) which has made me, as someone cursed with loads of the things, start fretting about whether I should start getting them injected with stuff so that I look smooth all over like a raw pig’s bottom.

Towards the end Sharon meets a lady who had a much more appealing mid-life crisis, one that didn’t feature boob jobs or prowling round Yates’s at 1am, throwing sultry looks to 18 year olds over the top of a Barcardi Breezer. She looked at her life and realised she wasn’t happy with her long hours, posh house and bags of expensive clothes; so she said sod it, sold everything and moved into a barge.

I personally don’t fancy living in a floating box and having to wee in a bucket, but she seemed pretty happy with her lot. Consequently the whole programme felt really empowering and reassured me that turning 45 didn’t necessarily mean, in the words of Sharon, having to “pop a Valium and go quietly mad behind net curtains”.