Probe That Package
Package Holiday Undercover has returned to ITV1 in a new live format with a set very similar to that of Crimewatch and a telephone number permanently on the screen. The presenter told us that if they received enough calls about a particular hotel or destination they would put a reporter on a plane the very next morning to investigate.
It occurred to me that Crimewatch, which hasn't changed much in 30 years, could do something similar and take a more proactive approach to crime:
Nick Ross: we need just five more calls about 15 year old Wayne Wiggins in Luton and police officers will visit his home and start the process of serving an Anti Social Behaviour Order.
[presses finger to earpiece] I'm being told that we've just had a call from a Mrs Annabel Goodyear who saw Wayne stick a lump of chewing gum on the back of a computer monitor in the public library. So exciting developments there in Luton. We'll be back with an update after the news. But do remember that this kind of behaviour is extremely common in teenagers. So don't have nightmares. Do sleep well.
The package holiday programme, which must surely be sponsored by the English Tourist Board, was a smorgasbord of schadenfreude for those of us who never leave this sceptred isle.
There was a hotel in Kenya infested with monkeys who stole sweets from residents' bedrooms and then brazenly sat on the balconies eating them. They also invaded the dining room and took food from the plates. We saw a man leap from the table and throw his chair at one of them. This is really no way to behave towards your closest relatives. Then again, it's behaviour that's not entirely unknown at weddings and Christmas family dinners.
Next we were told of the large increase in shark attacks in South Africa and a man cheerfully told us how his leg had been ripped open. I'd like to be sympathetic but I can't help feeling that if you choose to swim with the sharks you deserve all you get.
Then we learned that an entire generation of British children are in danger of drowning in overseas hotel and villa swimming pools. Surprisingly, if you rent a private villa it doesn't come with a trained lifeguard sitting by the pool 24 hours a day. An expert was drafted in to tell us that it's important for parents to keep a close eye on young children who can't swim. Perhaps I'd have been an obsessive parent because I wouldn't let a toddler play anywhere near a deep swimming pool.
Although the reconstruction of shark attacks was preceded by a warning to viewers, no such warning was given before footage of Disneyland in France so I went and checked my email while that report was on. The programme had cruelly sent two families from Croydon on a weekend in Disneyland as though living in Croydon weren't misfortune enough for one lifetime.
I noted that a two day package holiday to Disneyland cost as much as I was earning annually in the early seventies, although I would gladly have given up my salary and sold my body on the streets of Soho rather than be sent to Disneyland.
Finally, a couple from Scotland had decided it would be a spiffing idea to get married on the island of Grenada. They had reckoned without Hurricane Ivan which swept across the island during their stay. If the earth didn't move for them, the hotel roof certainly did, collapsing in a shower of concrete.
Bizarrely, Virgin Holidays apologised for the fact that the hurricane had changed course unexpectedly and hit Grenada and refunded their accommodation costs. It seems an expensive tactic for holiday companies to take responsibility for the weather.
I think the Scottish couple should share the blame because you should never go anywhere that hasn't had a Ford named after it. Perhaps they'd confused Grenada with Granada which is as safe as houses. And Capri is absolutely delightful. Personally, I've always fancied Probe in the Balearics but I'm probably getting a bit past it now.