Published: Sat 15 Dec 2012
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.
“Because we’ve got so much on our minds right now we can’t enjoy the beauty of this place. I just don’t think paradise exists any more and I think that’s really sad.” – Sandy Loder, Florida
Featured in the first episode are:
Sally Spencer, whose wealthy husband lost his fortune on internet gambling, now relies on charity food parcels in rural France as she cannot afford to buy the basics. She and friend Victoria hatch a plan to set up a cleaning company.
She says: “When you can’t pay your electricity bill, which has happened to me and they cut you off. When you can’t pay your phone bill and they cut you off and everything is getting cut off and you don’t know where you are going to find this money and how you are going to get out of this mess. It’s so frightening. It’s makes you feel so vulnerable, so vulnerable.
“I’ve worked hard since I was 17 and I’m at a time in my life when I feel that I should be financially stable and taking things a little bit easier. I have got to start again like I am 20 years old starting out in life again and that’s hard.”
Ageing rock singer Terry Bennett, who is desperate to return to the UK after a stroke but is struggling to sell his 10-bedroom villa in Spain. Terry’s wife Jennifer maintains the villa but finds the scale of her task difficult.
He says: “It was really the culmination of all my dreams, to see this place and I thought this is just how I envisaged myself - living here, the pool, everything, and that was it. I have to put my hand up in the air and say, it was a bit of a show off, because I am a bit of a show off and a bit sort of egotistical and really that is my ego standing behind me as well. My alter ego.
“After the stroke, it’s no longer the big dream, the dream sort of dissipated. The best thing I can do is get back to Britain. Really I want to take the load off Jen. Ten double bedrooms is a lot to clean for an army of servants but poor old Jen has to do the lot. This place is like a beautiful prison. You wouldn’t think so to look at it. But when Jen’s away it is a beautiful prison.”
Sandy and Rob Loder, whose dreams of building a mobility scooter empire in Florida go up in smoke after a business deal they invested their life savings in goes bad. As Rob’s visa means he can’t work in America, Sandy is forced to seek employment as a waitress.
Rob says: “I feel extremely guilty the way it’s turned out. I mean, Sandy had a good job and I feel that I have taken her away from all that and brought her out here to pursue my dream. It was my dream and Sandy supported me in that dream.”
Sandy says: “Well I would say to somebody just think long and hard before you take that step because once you do it, it’s not so easy to go back.”