Pattaya Brits in trouble echoed in new TV series about Barcelona

Sophie Rundle plays the glamorous and quick-witted consular officer in a new TV mini-series.

Over the years there have been many TV documentaries about Pattaya Brits in the you-know what. The cases cover lost or stolen passports, mysterious falls from balconies, muggings, murders, abductions, domestic violence and everything in between. Recently, there has been abundant publicity about Brits in Thailand desperately seeking charity crowdfunding for unpaid medical bills.

Now a new TV fictional drama The Diplomat, currently showing in Britain, features young and glamorous consular staff in Barcelona, Spain, tackling crime and fighting hard and cheerfully to protect the rights of British residents or tourists. The six part series was commissioned by Alibi, the pay TV channel, and the BBC. Consular staff are revealed as lawyers, counsellors and detectives in a variety of cases, howbeit with their own personal lifestyle issues.

The first episode covered the sudden death of a young British barman on a harbor yacht. Even though the circumstances are suspicious, the Spanish police and the British foreign office are reluctant to investigate. The lead consular official threatens to expose murky goings-on and links to the UK security services. This case forms an arc for the whole series, although the weekly parts will include other miscellaneous disasters encountered by DBNs (Distressed British Nationals).

Journalist Andrew Drummond, who spent 27 years in Thailand covering crime and criminals, said the TV series could lead to higher expectations from British citizens worldwide who may be disappointed “that they do not get a glamorous blond to come and hold their hand.” Drummond has written copiously about the limited services in practice offered by British embassies overseas whose common refrain is “we are not responsible for your safety, get a lawyer and we don’t pay your bills.”

A former Pattaya representative of the British embassy said, “The TV series is giving an entertaining but wholly inaccurate representation of consular work. In the drama, embassy staff are shown sleeping with people involved in criminal cases, bypassing the police in criminal investigations and having conversations which would get them the sack in real life. It’s great stuff, well-worth watching and complete nonsense.”