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One of many Facebook protest pages set up
In case you are wondering, "Vox Pop" is a term often referred to in the broadcasting and media world and means popular opinion as represented by informal comments from members of the public.
Following Monday´s article in The Sun entitled "Benidoom" there has been a huge backlash from both residents and holiday makers in the resort.

I myself published an article and the following day sent a copy to both the editor and the reporter who wrote the original story, Graeme Culliford ... and story is what it was as far as many are concerned. I must say I was rather surprised to receive a response from Mr Culliford as I am certain his inbox would have been overflowing - and not with complimentary remarks on his reporting skills!

He started by saying "Hi Irena, I appreciate that you want to stand up for Benidorm and that you have your views on how things are going". Yes, spot on there Graeme- I actually live here, speak to people everyday and actually know what is happening here. He then went on to say the following which left me speechless "I interviewed around a dozen people and had informal conversations with countless others...." So he has based a double page article, possibly ruining countless businesses not on weeks or even days of research and interviews but on speaking to "around" a dozen people and "based on these interviews, I wrote the best article I could in the time frame available" - for all we know that time frame could have been on the 2 hour flight back to London.

Dave Rowland
The following day he was a guest on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show defending his article against local ex-pat Dave Rowland, a well respected newspaper reporter and Benidorm radio, Cool fm DJ who has lived in the area for over 20 years. His morning radio show (8am til 10am) is listened to by many, including radio producers in the UK and they thought what better person to pitch Graeme up against- well Dave certainly pulled apart everything that he had written based on facts not fiction.

I also posted my link onto Trip Advisor - Benidorm Forum under my user name Miss Beni in defense of the inaccurate article. There had been hundreds of comments on the original Sun article and my follow up and guess what, I have been de-activated and banned from Trip Advisor for daring to criticize the false reporting in The Sun... who´s link incidentally remains but mine was deleted!  I have now been openly welcomed to another Benidorm forum, "benidormlovers.com" who are as the name suggests, offering people opinions and advice on the town. The Advertising Standards Agency have launched inquiries following complaints that false reviews and posts have reached epidemic levels on Trip Advisor - so basically take with a pinch of salt what you read!

Delighted holiday makers at John & Josephs
So 3 days on from the original Sun article I can honestly say that feelings are still running very high in the resort. I went into Benidorm this morning to speak to business owners and holiday makers to ask their opinions on the fallout of the "Benidoom" piece. As the article suggested, it is certainly NOT deserted - far from it. My first stop was at the hugely popular "John & Josephs".... a few doors down from Morgan´s Tavern aka Neptune´s Bar in the ITV series.

For Simon Chipchase & Emma Howell it is there 5th time back here - they have visited the resort at various times of the year and said it was a busy as always. A group of 9 from Belfast (at the back of pic) said its heaving and that they are loving it here - for some it was their first time but others had been before... and they were all planning on coming back.
Geordie Bar owner Stu

Local bar owner  Stuart was furious at the false accusations made in Monday´s article. Looking around it was difficult to even relate the article to what I saw around. Tables were full of customers and Stuart told me that it was "the best 6 months" he has had in a long time. There have been a lot of families coming in of late and he shakes his head in disbelief as he picks up a copy of the  fated newspaper... one that he normally never gets he told me but when he had a phone call from a UK relative about the piece he shot out of the bar to buy a copy and read it for himself.

Another local business owner Vikki located at the Indoor Market told a similar story. She has has her salon for 6 years and told me she has just had the best May, June & July since opening! Of the article she said "You would expect a professional journalist to print something factually correct - the man is disillusioned. With all the backlash I think that it´s backfired on the paper".

Cailyn in red stripy top
And so the comments and remarks continued in a similar vein. I didn´t speak to a single person that agreed with the article or could make any correlation to the Benidorm they were at. Another group from Falkirk in Scotland were enjoying lunch  at a bar on the busy Levante seafront. They have been here since Saturday, staying at the Levante Club Apartments and for Cailyn it was her 6th time back. They had all been to the "supposedly desserted" Morgan´s Tavern last night but told me it was absolutely heaving - they could barely get in through the doors never mind find a table.

Young Charlie & Mia not allowed airbeds at the Pelicanos
Mimi, manager of the bar told me it was shocking and disgraceful that a national paper could get away with writing such lies. He went on to tell me the picture used of the boarded up bars in the Sun article were of a parade in a back alley, off the beat and track that had been shut for the last 5 years... not as the article implies recently shut up!

Levante this morning
Another group of holiday makers I spoke with were from Newcastle - Mark Green, Kelly Hogg and little Charlie plus there friends Mark Hamilton, Gemma Winston and little Mia are all staying at the Sol Pelicanos, made famous from the Benidorm series as the fictitious Solana resort. They were loving it here and despite going All Inclusive were still enjoying lunch out. They said that they couldn´t fault the resort or hotel facilities but weren´t at all happy with the AI aspect. They weren´t allowed to use the swim up bar, which was reserved for "Gold AI members only"- something not advertised in the brochure they said. Also, they couldn´t use the blow up airbed´s in the swimming pool which they purchased specially and had to go inside the hotel to use that bar for drinks ... then we couldn´t order more than 2 Mark stated which meant that Kelly had to get out of the pool to go and get her drink as he had his and one for his young daughter. Out of all the people I spoke with this morning that was the only negative thing said ... and aimed at the hotel rather than the resort.

Pea men caught in the act
I finally spoke to Asa Elliott, who is currently performing at Sandra´s Bar and the cabaret singer from the last series of the ITV Benidorm series - and certainly a hit with everyone, especially the ladies. He said that the bar was packed and that 90% of the people he speaks with are here because of the series... and they keep coming back they love it so much. Asa will be heading back to play Prince Charming in Panto at the Bournmouth Pavilion from 8 December until 6th January. Appearing alongside him will be Sue Pollard, Chris Jarvis and Tom Baker - I remember him as Dr Who (showing my age now I think!).

To end his email Graeme wrote "If you are claiming everything is rosy you are ignoring some worrying economic trends". No I am not ignoring anything.... crime does exist as everyone is aware - but no more so than any other resort city. Most are aware of the pea men, or some call them the potato men - but as mentioned on both the BBC and in National UK papers, they seem to have descended on London in time for the Olympics. Pickpockets operate here as they also do in London, Manchester, Rome ... need I go on. I am not saying that things are perfect but we don´t need The Sun making damaging statements in an already difficult economic situation.

Only last month "This Morning" broadcast one of its shows from Benidorm and the crowds of people had to be held back.... certainly wasn´t looking very "doomy" to me!

Comments  

0 #4 jesse garon 2012-08-17 00:28
the man must be getting blind in his old age, I have just returned from Benidorm today and it was heaving everywhere we went.
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0 #3 Maria 2012-08-04 00:09
Great write up! I have just returned from Beni and loved every minute. It's BeniBoom not Doom!
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0 #2 Ivor_Longbone 2012-08-03 20:59
Superb Article, Highly commendable ....
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0 #1 thisisspain 2012-08-03 20:41
GREAT article, Irena. I am SICK of the rubbish the UK media write about Spain. I love the way you have destroyed his lies and also his "research" - you have shot his credibility to pieces.

Remember #neverbuythesun !
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