ITV show blamed for fuelling yob behaviour in Faliraki

LONDON – British police officers have blamed the increase in yob behaviour on the Greek holiday resort of Faliraki in part on an ITV programme, 'Club Reps'.

Blackpool-based officers Superintendent Andy Rhodes and Inspector John Donnelly flew to Rhodes to advise local police after weeks of complaints and tabloid headlines about the antics of British holidaymakers.

Superintendent Rhodes said that the ITV programme 'Club Reps' had given a green light to young people, telling them that they could come to "Faliraki and do what they want".

"It has increased trade but brought a problem in terms of standards of behaviour. I would apportion quite a lot of blame to 'Club Reps'. It's good TV, people like watching it, but there's a lot of young people here who have been influenced by it," Superintendent Rhodes said.

However, the programme makers, SMG Television, hit back at the criticism and denied responsibility for the bad behaviour of British tourists.

A spokesman said: "'Club Reps' is a documentary series and, as such, its content has been wholly factual. The programme-makers filmed what they saw and the programmes that were broadcast were simply a reflection of what was already commonplace in the resort."

The 'Club Reps' documentary showed the alcohol-filled lifestyles and antics of young British holidaymakers who are flying out to the Greek resort on cheap package deals.

The programme, which first aired on ITV in January 2002, also detailed Viagra testing and vomiting. It returned for a second series this year, 'Club Reps: The Workers', focusing on the people who work on the island, but it still featured plenty of drinking.

In one episode, a teetotal man takes on a birthday drink challenge by knocking back seven drinks -- a noxious mix of wine, beer and spirits -- in quick succession with some chicken for good measure.

Sharmayne Wilks, a rep who appeared on the programme, has no regrets about appearing in 'Club Reps', saying: "The worst thing I saw was a guy drinking his own vomit. He was really paralytic."

SMG have defended the programme, but even the "toned down" second run was boycotted by some Greeks, angry about the portrayal of sex and drunkenness on Rhodes in the first series.

Producer Steve Bailey says: "There were a few problems before I inherited the project in July. Some bars refused us access but it was only a minority. I don't think there's anything in this run that will unduly bother the Greeks."

Inspector Rhodes said part of the problem was that it was the first holiday for many of the young people coming to Faliraki.

"They are vulnerable, they may not be binge drinkers at home, a shot here is three times the measure in the UK, and if they get involved in binge drinking, incidents are bound to happen," he said.

He went on to criticise "aggressive" drinks promotions and bar crawls of up to 500 people, which have fuelled bad behaviour. He said the key to tackling problems is stopping the "aggressive marketing of drinks promotions" and bar crawls.

The Blackpool officers were sharing policing tips, which led to a major fall in loutish behaviour in Blackpool, with the chief of Faliraki police, Captain Themis Kalamatas.

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