Monday, 16 June 2014

CHAPTER 29


A new baby in the family. The authorities trick me out of my radio licence and a TV show in UK at last!




As we entered 2006 the warning signs were now flashing red, the recession was deepening and radio advertising wasn’t getting any better but worse I began to detect serious problems within Roberts Majestic Group of companies of which REM FM was part of. My accountant was advising me to try to completely separate REM from him because if he does go down he will also pull the radio station with it.
Not all real estate companies were in trouble and bucking the trend was the phenomenal success of young Darragh MacAnthonys MRI company. Darragh formed the property group MacAnthony Realty International (MRI) in 2000 selling overseas holiday homes to mainly Irish and British customers. From a head office in Marbella, the company offered properties in countries including the Bahamas, Bulgaria, Cyprus and the Dominican Republic. Darragh speed of expansion was breathtaking; he’s a young man who talks his actions like a bullet leaving a gun. He was living the dream in Marbella, huge corporate offices, a mansion in the hills above Marbella with Ferrari's and Bentley's in his drive. A huge billboard above Marbella's main highway with his bigger than life photograph on it read: Welcome to MacAnthony Territory! It seemed where ever you looked you would see billboards with Darraghs photograph on them advertising his MRI companies. He was, in short, a marketing genius and so rich was he becoming that he flew around the world in private jets accompanied by four burly bodyguards who followed him everywhere to assure his safety. He achieved all this by the age of 29!

I got a call one day from Darraghs PA to ask would I come into the MRI headquarters in Marbella as Darragh has asked to see me, as he was a major advertiser on my radio station I was hoping this wasn’t going to be a meeting cancelling his advertising contract.
His offices were very Hollywood, crystal chandeliers hung everywhere with, what seemed like, throngs of busy staff toing and froing throughout his vast headquarters. Telephones were ringing none stop it was in short something you would see in the movie Wall Street and not what you would expect to see in a holiday resort. After waiting some considerable time I was accompanied up a flowing marble staircase which led to the executives office and down a long hallway where a single door slowly opened as if by some kind of magic ushering me into what could be best described as JR Ewings from Dallas’s office which included an on suited gold plated bathroom, a massage room and a large board table even a fireplace. A football match was being played out on TV. Darragh asked me to join him for a coffee as he continued to watch the match, without any notice Darragh turned to me and exclaimed that he’d just bought Peterborough Football team from Barry Fry. I was now intrigued to know why I had been summoned to a private audience by his holiness. Once the match was over Darragh said. “How do you fancy the Boland ego on TV?”
Explain more,” I asked
I’m setting up a TV station in London on a SKY Channel and I want you to have your own talk show on it, what do you say?
I didn’t hesitate “ Okay, I’m up for that, tell me more
Darragh explained that he’s hired a large production company to run the station and his young sister Wendy would be the overall MD. The studios where in Wembley and once he told me the huge budget he was willing to spend to make his TV work it all began to sound to good to be true! Surely after my past experiences I should have read the warning signs, Hadn’t I been through all this with Robert and Majestic TV, who were now losing a fortune. But on the other hand I had nothing to lose and all to gain. My own TV Show in UK with my choice of star guests with an open cheque book. Whether it was too good to be true are not I wanted it and Darragh was offering it so I accepted.

Meanwhile Justin and Ani had given birth to our first grandson Alekzander in Bulgaria and I planned to fly out to see him (Photo. The newspaper article on the left was the announcement in the Independent newspaper about the birth of our first grandson, when the reporter called me and asked what it felt like to be as grandfather I replied. I woke up this morning after realising I had just slept with a grandmother!) Before I left I needed a serious meeting with Majestics financial director , Swiss born, Thierry Cassals. I needed to know what was going on, Robert was spending less and less time in the office and rumors about financial troubles were flying around Marbella. Thierry assured me everything was okay and not to worry. But I was worried it was already a week into March and none of my staff had been paid. I told Thierry I was off to Bulgaria in a few days I didn’t want to leave until I was sure the staff received their salaries and again he assured me that they would be paid within a day or two.
I remember arriving in Varna and switching my phone only to have received a very disgruntled message from one of my staff explaining that he has now missed his mortgage payment, his bank account is empty and he needs his wages NOW! Again I called Thierry and told him that a serious situated was unfolding at the station and unless all the staff got paid within 24 hours I will lose my most valuable presenters (this was a slight exaggeration). Thierry promised that he would do his best, but I now knew , for sure that big trouble lay ahead. Thankfully somehow Thierry managed to see that the salaries were paid and I enjoyed the rest of my time in Varna with my first grandson.

On the way back from Bulgaria we stopped off in London where MacAnthony’s chauffeur driven limousine picked us up at the airport and took us directly to the TV studios in Wembley.
The set up was very impressive, there had to be a staff of around 50 working in various departments preparing for the launch in September. The gallery (Photo on the right) was busy testing newly fitted equipment, computers, cameras, lights etc. I was introduced to the team that was assigned to my show they were made up of a producer, director, floor manager, script coordinator, makeup, wardrobe and of course various camera men. I would say at a guess there was approx 20 on my production team. I was taken to the art dept where I met the set designers who were already working on my set design. My female producer was a black girl from London who had worked mainly on news programs but I’m not sure she had ever worked on a variety talk show before. She explained among various things that I would be fitted with an earpiece so that the director could speak to me about camera angles time countdowns etc. I explained I had never used one and that I normally got my countdowns etc from the floor manger, she snapped back at me: “You’ll be wearing one from now on, so you better get used to it!” I disliked her from that moment on and I felt the feeling was mutual


No sooner had we flown back to Spain than I was summoned into a meeting with Theirry, Robert and Frank they wanted to make a small change to the structure of the radio station’s SL company and that Frank would resign as administrator and I would be made REM FM’s administrator, naively I thought that would distant myself and the radio station from the pending collapse of the Majestic Group but far from that it in fact tied me in even closer. This was something I regret that I agreed to, to this day!


PIRATE RADIO STATIONS:


Not many people, especially expats, are aware that ALL English radio stations and hundreds of Spanish radio stations are illegal, meaning, they have NO licenses and this has been the way for over 30 years in Spain, but now the Junta de Andalucia, who govern Andalucia, which includes the Costa del Sol, decided it was time to act against all illegal radio stations and officially threatening them with closure along with large fines, but before they carried out this threat, they decided to open up 8 new frequencies on the Costa Del Sol. I was delighted with this news as I felt sure we would be one of the stations to be awarded with a license. The procedures for application was quite straight forward. Firstly two large envelops needed to be submitted, the first with all the financial records of the radio station, taxes, social security, staff contracts etc. This was at the time no problem as all financial records where in order. The second envelope needed to explain why REM FM deserved licence and as far as I was concerned this envelope which contained letters from various charities we had supported including the building of the Cudeca Hospice, letters where also submitted from the British and Irish embassies stating the importance of REM's work among the expat communities would guarantee the awarding of the license to us. All in all I was more than confident that we would be legal within a short distance of time. To make sure nothing could go wrong I hired José María del Nido who at the time was president of the world famous Seville Football club and one of the most respected lawyers in Spain. I chose him because of his status in Seville and Seville being the headquarters of the Junta I felt this would doubly assure me of my application success.

The next series of events I remember as if they happened yesterday. By mid June 2006 I knew that the first envelop had already been opened and as we hadn’t heard back from the Junta I knew that we had fulfilled all that was needed on the financial side, now all that was left was for them to inspect the contents of the second envelope and I was double, no quadrupley sure we had the licence in the bag.
As I was leaving the office late one Friday afternoon out of the corner of my eye I spotted a fax on the machine, I thought to myself I would leave it there until Monday but then for some reason I removed it and saw it was from the Junta de Andalucia and although I couldn’t read it as it was in Spanish I was sure all it must be is an a official recognition that we had past the first test. There was no one except me in the office so I faxed it to my accountant so he could read it to me. When applying for the licence we had to give a bank guarantee for the 30,000 Euro license fee, he explained that the guarantee was in fact not correct that it was whats known as a closed guarantee meaning the bank for some reason made it a 3 month guarantee when the Junta required an open end guarantee. "No panic," he said "You have 3 working days to get the bank to reissue the guarantee and as this is Friday afternoon you will need to call your bank first thing on Monday to make sure they will urgently deal with the matter".


"No Panic!" he said, after all I had three days to deal with this. So first thing on Monday morning I called the bank and explained to the manager what had happened , I also sent him a copy of the fax from the Junta. He said he would get onto it immediately and would have it ready by Tuesday (the next day) afternoon. I then got my the office to call the Junta and explain that we only received the fax after the banks had closed on Friday evening and as they were not opened on Saturday my bank was preparing it now as a matter of urgency and we wanted to know if I should drive up to Seville on Tuesday as soon as I picked up the guarantee. The woman from the Junta explained that we shouldn't worry and that we could send it by a courier service recommended by the Junta on Wednesday morning (the third working day) and as soon as it was sent to fax her the receipt from the courier service that they had picked up the guarantee and that would be recorded as an acknowledgment that the requirement had been carried out. We organised the courier service to meet me at the studio 9am Wednesday which they did and off they went to Seville with the new guarantee. I then sent their receipt and called the Junta to make sure they received it, which they confirmed so that was that so I thought we were still very much in the race.

One week later disaster struck when I received another fax from the Junta informing me that REM FM was now officially eliminated from the licence application system because, wait for this you’ll not believe it, it explained we were in fact one day late as Saturday was counted as a working day for the Junta. I nearly collapsed with shock I just could not believe what I was hearing.
Who could I blame, my lawyer I suppose for not reading the rules correctly, the Junta for not being honest with me, the bank for also getting it wrong. I drove to Seville immediately and faced José María del Nido (See photo) asking him what he intended to do about it. He just shrugged and more or less indicated that shit happens but if I wanted he would appeal. “Your fucking right I want to appeal this is a fucking disgrace!” I was steaming. My honest opinion was that they didn’t want to issue an English radio station with a licenses and as our application was so strong the only way out was to send the fax late on Friday afternoon knowing nothing could be done until Monday. That's my opinion and I’m sticking to it!

Consequently on December 2013, the Supreme Court sentenced José María del Nido to seven years in prison and five and a half year ban from public office as required by a qualified cooperdor crime of embezzlement of public funds and a continuing offense of trespass, contributing to the exploitation of the coffers of the City of Marbella, for irregular fees charged to the municipality between 1999 and 2003 amounting to over 6 million Euros!!!
Good choice I made there then????


Charity was still very much an important part of my life. I was invited by Mark and Lynn Quinlan to host a charity gala in aid of a foundation they set up called The Water Angels. The Quinlan's lost thier two year old son tragically when he drowned in their swimming pool after wandering out of the house without anyone noticing. The money raised would go to an a awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of swimming pools and young children.
This was an amazing night which was called the White Tie and Diamond Ball held in the tropical gardens of the Finca de la Conception, many of the 400 hundred guests had flown in from Ireland and it was rumored that Malaga airport had never seen so many private jets parked at its airport. That evenings auction broke all my previous records and I’m sure all other records in Marbella when it raised a staggering 250,000 Euros!! My friend and Irish comedian Dave Young (See photo) took the house down with his very special version of River Dance ending up in a kids blow up paddling pool on the stage then jumping into the gardens magnificent waterfall pond scaring the bejeezes out of the poor gold fish. The gardens had never been the same since. What a great night it was!



I'd flown back and forth to London throughout the summer attending production meetings in readiness for the launch of my TV show which was scheduled for September. During this time I grew to continually dislike my producer and her insistence in me wearing an earpiece which I was trying to get used to during rehearsals. This was distressing me so much so that I called my friend Gloria Hunniford and asked her advice. She told me to tell them I didn’t want to use one and went on to tell me that Jonathan Ross, Parkinson and Paul O’Grady among many other TV talk show hosts refused to wear earpieces as they claimed it interrupted their line of thought and concentration throughout an interview, how true that was. But I decided not to make to much of a fuss as this was my opportunity to appear on UK TV and I didn’t want to blow it. I also had to use an autocue for my introduction of guests, these were scripted for me in advance and as I am dyslectic and the words the script writers used were not the words I would chose it made my life pretty unpleasant. I hoped things would get better as soon as we started to record the shows. Many well known TV faces were already appearing on the station hosting their own shows including ex Blue Peter host Peter Purvis , John Stapleton, Neil and Christina Hamilton and many other faces I recognised mostly from property and financial TV shows etc.



My studio set design was pretty basic but I’d seen a lot worse on ITV. The animated opening title was excellent (see video at the end of this chapter) My guest list was top class, most had been guests of mine on my radio show including author Fredrick Forsyth and Lord Jeffery Archer, the wonderfully witty Ned Sherrin, Actress Dame Prunella Scales who played Sybil Faulty in the TV’s hit comedy Faulty Towers, TV’s Leslie Granthem, Anita Dobson TV's hit comedy series Birds of a Feather stars Leslie Josephes Linda Robinson and spoon bender Uri Geller to name but a few. Also among my guest were ordinary people who did extraordinary things, like the the solder who’s eyes were gauged out when he came to the recue of a woman outside a pub that was being attacked and became a world class downhill skier, a memory man who could memorise a whole pack of cards after I shuffled them and many other amazing guests. But it came abundantly clear that the station was be run by a pack of amateurs who were more or less clueless when it came to producing late night talk shows! The musicians they gave me were so hopeless they wouldn't have qualified for a school band never mind being studio musicians! All in all the finished product wasn't to bad and was surprisingly extremely well received.

The biggest problem I was having was exhaustion. I would fly into London on a Thursday evening be met at the airport by Darragh’s ever present chauffeur who would take me direct to my hotel (always a 5 star no less) there waiting for me at reception would always be a large brown envelope that would contain my scripts for the next days shows. I would read and curse them because they were nothing like the way I would to introduce my guests but I had to do what I was told!! Worse that b+*** of a producer of mine insisted I wear my glasses whilst reading from the autocue believing it was my short shortsightedness that was the cause of me not reading the words correctly. I tried to explain I hated wearing my glasses on TV and that it was my dyslectic problem that was to blame. Like my earpiece problem she was having none of it and insisted I wear the glasses (see photo)
I would be in bed by 10pm , A car would pick me up at 6am to take me to the studio. The first thing on the agenda was a meeting with the production crew and go over the guests and my autocue scripts etc, then a short breakfast and makeup. My first show guests would be in the Greenroom by 8:30am. We would shoot the first hour long show at around 9am (funny sitting there at that hour of the morning saying; “Good evening welcome to the Boland Show”) As soon as the show finished and with hardly enough time to say goodbye and thank you to my guests I had to get changed, get my makeup freshened up and start the recording of my second show with five new guests. We would then have a short lunch break. The TV studios had a very adequate canteen so at least I ate! Then it was back to makeup and another quick change of outfits and another 5 guests. Our 4th and final show of the day was filmed and in the bag before 5pm, If we went over 5pm all the crew would be on double time so it was imperative we finished on the dot of 5 o’clock. It was then a frantic rush, still with my make up on, to Heathrow for a flight back to Malaga.

I must have looked a right sight whilst waiting to board my flight with my mascara starting to run etc!!!
The cost of these shows were very high, different from my radio show, guest demanded high fees plus cars to collect and take them back from the studios. Eventually the station, like Majestic TV and many other independent Television stations, went into liquidation but not before costing Darragh a small fortune. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that he gave me and enjoyed the year I spent on TV.


Other events I attended during 2006 was the official visit by princess Cristina the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia to the Cudeca Hospice where I was delighted not only to have my photograph taken with her (can’t find it at the moment) but also to chat with her.

And finally the year ended on a much happier note with yet another huge successes for the REM FM telethon for Cudeca. But I knew I was in for a horribleness 2007!


To be continued

A short video from my TV show




Different photographs from my TV show:




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