Marbella plays Florida in the UK's hit series 'Living The Dream'

A scene being filmed in the eight-million-euro villa in Guadalmina.
A scene being filmed in the eight-million-euro villa in Guadalmina. / Josele-Lanza
  • The production company decided to use the Costa del Sol rather than move everything to the USA for this series

For those who may not know, 'Living The Dream' is the TV series of the moment in the UK. It is about the Pemberton family, a couple with two children who decide on a radical change of life, leaving behind their home in Yorkshire and moving to Florida, in the USA, to set up their own business: a caravan park.

The first season was filmed entirely on the other side of the Atlantic, but for the second one the producers decided to look for somewhere in Spain which would look like Florida but cost much less in terms of logistics and money.

"It's not just the financial cost, it's an operational matter. It is not the same to move the logistics to America as it is to Spain. Everything is much easier here," says Carlos Durán, the head of locations at the production company.

The Florida the viewers will see in the second season - which will be shown early next year - was actually on the Costa del Sol. Filming has been taking place between Malaga and San Roque (in Cadiz province) and in the 12 weeks of work Marbella, halfway between the two, has become the major beneficiary of a production which has a budget of between six and eight million euros: that's over one million euros per episode.

"It is the biggest major production to come to the Costa del Sol this year, after Snatch," says Carlos, emphasising the length of the filming period, which started on 9 April and will end on 29 June.

The six episodes in the series were divided into two parts for filming. Each had a different director. The first focused on Sotogrande and San Roque.

The Living The Dream team (150 people, who use 50 vehicles for the equipment) made Marbella the centre of activity for the second phase of their work. Several locations were chosen to portray Florida, where the Pembertons live: the beach at San Pedro Alcántara, Puente Romano, the coastal path at El Pinillo, the offices of the Tembo company (turned into the mayor's office in the story), the Guadalpín secondary school (used as the police station) and the Bellamar school. Earlier this week, the filming took place in a luxury newly built villa in Guadalmina Baja, which the production company rented from the Marbella company Rhoner Property and used as the home of the main character's posh friend, a passionate golf enthusiast who opens the doors of his mansion to Mal (Philip Glenister) and his wife Jen(Lesley Sharp), the famous couple from the series.

The house has a constructed area of 163 square metres, swimming pool, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a cinema and even an indoor garden in the wine cellar, and those are just a few of the features of the residence (which is for sale for around eight million euros) selected by the British production team. It is in one of the most exclusive areas and situated just opposite the villa owned by former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar.

"We looked at various houses, and this was the one we chose," says Carlos Durán. "We spent a few days here filming some of the first part, and then the director wanted to come back," he explains.

Moving around

Moving the equipment needed for the series, which is shown on Sky 1 in the UK, involved close coordination with the local authorities. Not only were permits needed, but they also had to find space to deposit equipment, material and items for the administrative work.

Several offices at the Single Home building at the entrance to Marbella were used, and an area for the props. A warehouse unit on the San Pedro industrial estate became an improvised storage facility.

"The Marbella tourism department was great. They went to great efforts to help us and made things much easier by centralising everything through the Marbella Film Office, which coordinated the different town hall departments," says Carlos.

In Malaga city a few days ago, the series turned the Teatinos university campus into an American institute.

Will the adventures of the Pemberton family be returning to Marbella? That will depend on the audiences, it seems, although the actors have signed up for three seasons.