Living in Tenerife: Does Anyone Understand Spain?

Posted: June 2, 2010 in Life, politics, Spain, Tenerife, Travel

Shortly after I moved to Manchester someone played a John Cooper Clark album at a party. Everyone fell about laughing, but I just didn’t get it. I watched the other people with tears running down their faces and wondered if I’d ever fit in to this strange new world.

By the time I left I was an honorary Manc and felt as strongly about the place as I did the country of my birth. I could really relate to what made Manchester tick.

The other night I was watching the American TV series Life gather momentum towards the series’ conclusion. On Spanish TV it’s customary to show three episodes of a series on the same night (not always in order – sometimes you get the latest first, an earlier episode from the same season second and then a completely different season third – don’t ask me why). So we watched the first and the second in English. We don’t do dubbing – it’s crap, so we watch Spanish TV programmes in Spanish, but English and American programmes in English where it’s available. Then the third episode came on…and the English option didn’t work. Normally all three are in English, so presumably someone somewhere was distracted and forgot to hit a switch or something.

This is not the first time this has happened. Allied to this little ‘error’, the TV channel’s website stated the programme was being screened on Monday, despite it actually being broadcast on Tuesday.

I could reel off any number of similar Spanish TV ‘quirks’ – ER is my favourite Spanish TV moan. It went from being on nearly every night to a mix of nights and mornings to only mornings, apart from the occasional nocturnal appearance. The channel’s website states that it is soon to be shown on Mon-Wed nights again…as well as some episodes on Mon-Fri mornings. WTF, who has work hours that allows them to follow that schedule?

What I don’t understand is why do the Spanish public accept this sort of cavalier approach and apparent lack of concern about disrupting their viewing pleasures?

This might seem a frivolous complaint, but the truth is that this sort of casual approach seems to be endemic.

Two weeks ago Spain announced, in a political variation of Bart Simpson’s ‘I didn’t do it’, that the country was out of recession. It was a surprising announcement given that a few days before Spain was economically being lumped in with the likes of Greece.

What was less surprising was that by the end of the week, the government also announced austerity measures. Presumably having conceded that just saying something isn’t happening doesn’t actually make it go away.

Then the IMF raised concerns about Spain’s economy and the BBC reported ‘It is not the first time that the IMF has said Spain needs economic reform, but the language has a much greater sense of urgency.’

The IMF advised that the Spanish labour market just wasn’t working and that part of the problem was ‘heavy indebtedness in the private sector, and weak productivity and competitiveness.’

Two years ago Andy and I sat outside a tent in the forest around Vilafor where there were only a handful of other campers, one group of whom happened to be British. In the still night it was impossible not to hear every word spoken by this group.
One of them talked about the impending world economic crisis with an authority that suggested his knowledge about what was going on was more informed than what he’d gleamed from the papers.
I eavesdropped intently as he warned that Spain was heading for an economic crisis that would be worse than that which affected other countries mainly because, instead of trying to tackle it, they would bury their heads and try to deny it was happening until it was too late. He hasn’t been proved wrong.

The inconsistency in screening ER and the depth of economic crisis might seem unconnected, but I don’t think so.

TV companies could listen to the moans of people like me and easily improve their TV scheduling for the benefit of their viewers and the Spanish government could actually take on board some of the advice the IMF have been giving them for years… but neither seem likely to happen.
It’s a mindset which works against Spain’s own interests and that’s what I just don’t think I’ll ever get.

John Cooper Clark’s unique brand of Manc humour was far easier to understand.

  1. Pamela says:

    British TV is getting like that. Even the BBC are known to put on double helpings or repeat the same program in the same night and again later in the same week. ITV / Channel 4 often have half a dozen of the same program listed on the same day.

    And, lets not forget that the UK’s debt situation is a whole lot worse than either Spain’s or Greece’s.

    Yeah, there could well be a link!

  2. […] found myself nodding in agreement one second and the next, remembering the blog I’d just written moaning about Spanish TV scheduling, wondered in horror if I’d become one of those […]

  3. dragojac says:

    Okay – the truth is that no sooner had I been sucked into the world of Dr Green, Ross et al it was snatched away from me by evil, dastardly and completely incompetent TV schedulers and I’m as mad as an old goose about it.

    Forget the debt, it’s the maltreatment of ER that’s really rattled my cage.

    They wouldn’t dream of treating Corrie the same way in the UK…unless things really have all gone to hell and damnation.

  4. Pamela says:

    I don’t watch Corrie, but occasional episodes of Eastenders (which is now so dreadful, it’s only function is so one can practice one’s open-mouthed disbelieving stare) have been shifted about willy-nilly if there was something more important to show. Last week, Casualty was a “casualty” of Eurovision – they just dropped it off the radar. As Holby did when we had some sort of joke election recently.

    I’m afraid that the culture is changing in Britain too with regard to the treatment of programs once seen as sacrosanct.

    I only ever have a look online, on the day, to see what might be on that’s watchable, so if any regular programs are messed with, it’s still comes as a bit of a surprise to me, in much the same way as the random Spanish scheduling did.

    I guess if I could be bothered to read the Radio Times, maybe I’d think Britain was still a bit more organized. Then again, I never bought TV guides in Spain either, if they exist.

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