Who wants Eldorado to return?
It is 20 years since golden sun rose over shimmering blue sea to announce the arrival of BBC One's Eldorado.
The 'sunshine soap' - centred on a group of ex-pats living in a fictional Costa del Sol town - was seen as the perfect pick me up for a gloomy 1992 Britain, recoiling from riots, recession and a five week residency in the top ten for Nick Berry's Heartbeat.
Some amateurish acting and unconvincing storylines, however, got it off to a bad start and the press sharpened their knives. Despite a reasonable recovery, the thrice weekly drama was axed one year later by incoming BBC One controller Alan Yentob.
But two decades on, at least one member of the original production team believes the time is right for Eldorado to make a 'triumphant return' to British screens.
Paul Davies, who was 21 when he was part of the programme's crew, is convinced that Eldorado was more tv trailblazer than licence fee profligacy. 'Critics would argue it was hubristic, too excessive and the axe deserved to fall prematurely,' he says. 'I would argue it was ambitious, ahead of its time and an example of the BBC machine working at its very best.'
He believes today's daytime schedules are crying out for a new Eldorado, and claims that writers, producers, executives and production companies share this view. 'I just hope a channel controller sees the potential and commissions a revisit to Eldorado in the future,' says the freelance cameraman.
End Quote Paul Davies Ex-Eldorado crew member
I would argue it was ambitious, ahead of its time and an example of the BBC machine working at its very best.”
The risks are low, he reasons, with Eldorado an established brand that has been sold around the world. Since its 1993 demise - at which point around 10m viewers were tuning in for each episode - it has enjoyed several reruns on UK Gold.
Plus, its orginal, brick-built set - constructed from nothing in three months on a remote hillside in southern Spain - is ready to go. Having been used for a while as a hotel, the set designers' authentic Spanish town, urban sprawl, heart shaped swimming pool, together with sound stages, edit suite, canteen, dressing rooms, water tank and air conditioned production offices, are currently unoccupied.
Davies made a pilgrimage to his former workplace recently. 'When I look around the place now,' he muses, 'I've got great memories of how the programme launched, the headline news about a possible ratings war between the two major soaps and the buzz of a cast and crew working to make a show that allowed viewers to escape the misery of the early 1990s recession.'
He believes the BBC shut the door on it in haste, hounded by a 'vindictive' tabloid press. 'If the BBC had been allowed to coolly evaluate the facts in a less fevered atmosphere - and take confidence from a growing audience who'd really begun to enjoy the trials and tribulations of the characters - perhaps Eldorado might still be on the air.'
Well, they've had cooling off time and a BBC renaissance for the soap seems doubtful at best. 'Eldorado will not be returning,' was the unequivocal response from BBC One when asked about its future prospects.
So while he waits for another broadcaster to take up the baton, Davies can only celebrate Friday's milestone in style.
'At 7pm I'll be having a cheeky glass of sangria, watching my 'Adios Eldorado' highlights video and toasting another great show in the sky.'