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The 1970s Holiday | Preview (Channel 5)

The 1970s ushered in a travel revolution – suddenly Britain was saying ‘adios’ to wet weekends by the sea, and jetting off to package destinations on the Costas that weren’t even built yet!

This two-part series takes a step back in time to when all of this was thrillingly new – when sangria, pesetas and siestas became part of our vocab; when holiday brochures dominated our doormats; and holiday programmes took over the airways.

We take modern holiday makers on a trip down memory lane, in a recreated high street travel agency, and aboard an authentic 1970s plane. We uncover a secret history of backrooms deals with dictatorships that helped finance our favourite resorts, as well as holiday deals and food options that you wouldn’t get nowadays. From mass travel to hippy trail wanderlust, this show takes us back to the decade that started it all.

In this episode we chart the rise of the package holiday in the 1970s and discover how Brits swapped staycations for fun in the Mediterranean sun.

We discover how Benidorm became a go-to destination, with a building boom that made tour operators millions but ruined the lie-ins of many holidaymakers who headed to this growing Spanish resort only to find the hotels were still being built.

We reminisce about the travel shows of the period that tempted us abroad – from Cliff Michelmore introducing Holiday from a studio in London, to Judith Chalmers in the Greek sunshine. And 25 years later, Anthea Turner also recalls some of her presenting highlights.

On board our retro airplane, today’s holidaymakers discover the delights of the in-flight drinks trolley - complete with real glasses - and the onboard menu. They witness the safety demo from back in the day and find out that smoking was commonplace on board in the 1970s. Our holidaymakers also explore our recreation of an authentic 1970s travel agent, complete with genuine holiday brochures from the era, revealing the tricks tour operators used to sell us our holidays.

We recall the glory days of airports, when we dressed up in our Sunday best just to get through check-in, security was so minimal we could wander around onto the tarmac, and people even took day trips just to watch the planes take off and land.

Our experts look back at a time when air hostesses were the queens of the skies, complete with uniforms created by legendary designer Sir Hardy Amies and make up by Elizabeth Arden.

Plus, we recall the challenges presented by foreign food, how we had to get our heads round ‘funny money’, and how in an era before smart phones, phrase books were invaluable for speaking the local lingo.

The series begins Tuesday 7th May on Channel 5.


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