By The TV Grump @TheTVGrump
"It's the Vegas of the North!" proclaims a tanked up tourist during Channel 5's latest foray into the endlessly fascinating subject of the Brit on holiday.
Having spent the last two series in the not altogether salubrious destination of Benidorm, it appears that austerity has got its grotty claws into Bargain Loving Brits, as now we find ourselves a little closer to home.
Gone are the lobster coloured pensioners on mobility scooters, the €1 beers and the roast dinners being devoured in 30 degree heat. Sadly, there would be no more tales from Camping Villamar, where acre upon acre of tattooed flesh bedded down each night. And alas, no more visits to the Show Boat cabaret bar ("jacket, chips or mash?")
It's series three and we're in Blackpool. The formula remains the same though. We follow the tourists as well as local businesses vying for the visitor's hard earned spending money.
We're introduced to Irn-Bru drinking Scottish sisters Agnes and Margaret. Both in their 80s, they've been to Benidorm, they've been to Tenerife, they've even been to Australia, but they much prefer Blackpool. They climb aboard the coach and visit three times a year, and love nothing more than a few drinks, some bingo, and a jaunt around the market.
It wouldn't be Bargain Loving Brits without at least a couple of drag queens. This time around we're introduced to Betty Legs Diamond, owner and star at legendary nightspot Funny Girls. It's the run up to the Summer season, and Betty is breaking in a new recruit, Polish Pete. Pete claims it's the first time he's donned the full makeup and sparkly gowns, although seeing him sashay around the stage in his stilettos, I was somewhat doubtful.
We also meet Jamie, who sells static caravans ... sorry, 'timber framed residential structures'. He's awaiting delivery of his largest sale to date, a £280,000 delivery to be exact. That's right, a near three hundred thousand pound caravan (sorry Jamie, it's a caravan). All human life is certainly here.
And that's when it dawned on me. As enjoyably lightweight as it still is, this new series is lacking one big component - the sun. The previous series' have always given us a weekly blast of sunshine in the depths of winter. Everyone's smile seemed that little bit bigger. Everyone's life, that little bit more bearable.
So there is that slight hue of grey hanging over everything this time around. That said, it's a fun and frivolous hour of midweek tv. A small oasis amongst the endless dirge of soaps, antiques and property shows.
Will I be booking two weeks in Blackpool next Summer ? I don't think so. Could I be tempted by a weekend of Sex on the Beach, fish & chips, and a show at Funny Girls though ?
I rather think I could.