Monday, 5 January 2015

Theme Time : Simon May - Eldorado

Eldorado, whisper it. Mythical lost city? No, a very real flop for the BBC from 1992.

The brainchild of Julia Smith and Tony Holland (who had helmed the later series of Angels and, more importantly, created EastEnders) Eldorado was the BBC's answer to the glossy imported sunshine soaps such as Neighbours and Home and Away and an attempt to bolster the schedules with another ratings winning soap alongside EastEnders. Like that show, Holland and Smith employed Simon May for the show's theme tune

Set in the fictional Spanish town of Los Barcos on the Costa del Sol (in reality a £2 million purpose built 'set' in the town of Coin; lain dormant for years it is now a hotel complex) the series was based around the lives of British and European expats and Spanish locals and broadcast three nights a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - at 7pm replacing Terry Wogan's chat show. Despite high hopes and an impressive budget, it quickly received derision and criticism by the popular press and viewers alike thanks to characters speaking in their native tongue without subtitles for the benefit of British viewers, acoustic issues from performing in bare walled villas and the casting of inexperienced actors. 17 year old Sheffield actress Kathy Pitkin, playing the implausibly named Fizz whose storyline involved her being married to the much older former RAF man Bunny (Roger Walker), bore the brunt of much of the criticism in particular. Like many in the cast, she was beautiful but ill equipped to handle the pressures of thrice weekly drama that attracted millions of viewers.


Ratings eventually improved over the course of the run and the storylines too became stronger but it wasn't enough to save the series from the axe and, in 1993, almost a year to the day the show had made its debut, the controller of the BBC Alan Yentob called time. The series ended with on/off romancers Marcus Tandy (Jesse Birdsall) and Pilar (the stunning Sandra Sandri) sailing off into the sunset after the shady Tandy escaped an explosive attempt on his life from gangsters who bore him a grudge.

The final moments were accompanied by a previously unheard vocal version of Simon May's theme tune, performed by Johnny Griggs. The title was apt - When You Go Away *sniff*

Despite its place in TV legend as being one of the biggest flops ever, the possibility of bringing back Eldorado and the notion that it was in some way ahead of its time has persistently reared its head in the twenty+ years since its cancellation. 

Who knows? For more info visit this excellent fan site here, there's even a petition to get Eldorado released onto DVD here


  1. Even ITV's Broadchurch is getting a bashing these days...

    'Broadchurch's big secret is out - it's a load of old codswallop: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV'

    Eldorado was simply brilliant and I can't wait to see it rebooted one day.

    1. Oh I'm still enjoying Broadchurch, but I've heard the rumblings of discontent. The thing these critics seem to have forgot is it was always about the after effects of a murder upon the community, not the murder itself.

  2. Previously unheard vocal version? The same version on sale in "all good record shops"?

    1. No, 'previously unheard vocal' as in all the episodes prior to that closed with the incidental, NOT the vocal version.