Thursday, 10 January 2013, 9:00PM – 10:00PM
This new two–part documentary series tells the stories of British ex-pats who pursued their dreams of living in a new country – but who are now struggling to survive.
Made by Wild Pictures, who produced the highly acclaimed ITV1 documentary series Strangeways, Trouble Abroad features the cautionary tales of some of the 5.5 million Britons who have left the UK in search of a better life.
Shot on location in Spain, Florida, and France, this documentary charts how their plans for idyllic ex-pat lifestyles have turned out and provides a colourful insight into the risks of investing everything in a new way of life overseas.
Among those who feature this time is Corin Fairchild, who left his highly-paid job in IT to retrain as a wine maker and move to France with wife Jayne, Having invested thousands of pounds in a vineyard which was subsequently discovered to be rotten, they desperately need to sell 3,000 bottles of wine they had previously produced in order to keep their business afloat.
He says: “We brought the equivalent of about twenty thousand quid’s worth of completely unviable vineyards, which we only discovered the harvest after when nothing was produced. You’re talking about a fifteen year plan to get this vineyard back and we’re not spring chickens.
“I do feel like an idiot yes. Absolute idiot. I’ve kicked myself enough times now so that Jayne doesn’t have to any more. I’ve realised now there’s no fool like an old fool.
“You may think the grass is greener in France. You may think the grass is greener anywhere else but where you live right now. You’ll soon learn that it’s not better, it’s just different.”
The programme also tells the story of Paul and Jennie Skingley, who ten years ago after a family holiday to Disney World in Florida, decided to make Orlando their home. Paul’s catering business in the UK had folded and he seized the opportunity to open an English cafe and then a pub. But in 2008, America was hit by its worst recession since the 1930s and Paul was forced out of business.
Paul’s visa does not allow him to work unless it is for his own business, so Jennie has been forced to take a job at Disney to help pay their mounting bills – which include $24,000 to pay for son Aaron’s appendix operation.
Their hopes for the future now rest on a legal case aiming to recoup some of Paul’s business investments. The programme captures the mounting tension and strain on the couple as they wait to hear the news from their lawyer on progress from the case.
Paul says: “Ever since I’ve been with Jeni and we’ve had the kids I’ve actually felt that we controlled our own destiny. As we speak today I don’t control any of it.
“We’re not American so we can’t fall back on the welfare system. I think in England the safety net would be there so you can deal with things differently. We’re on our own. There’s no back up.”
Also featured is Claire Tyson, who five years ago took over Rayz, a bar on an English ‘urbanizacion’ in Spain, but is now struggling to survive after the country was heavily affected by recession.
Her relationship with her partner fell apart soon after she took the bar on, and she has run it alone ever since. Now she’d like to move back to Britain.
She says: “You know go back about five, six years ago and this was a buzzing, buzzing urbanizacion. I’ve watched it in the five years I’ve been here turn completely the other way.
“I would love to make a life for myself eventually back at home, but I think life’s moved on in five years and I know if I did go back home I’ve got a real challenge ahead of me. I’d have to start again from the bottom whether it be getting a job, reconnecting with my old friends and sort of making a life for myself there.
“You can try and live in another country but it’s never really going to be home. Home is where you’re born and bred. There is no place like home.”
This series is produced and directed by Deborah Lovett and Paul Hamann is executive producer.