Zara McDermott On New Documentary 'Ibiza: Secrets of the Party Island'

With unprecedented access, Zara McDermott discovers what makes the island tick in a new documentary coming to BBC iPlayer and BBC Three

Ibiza: Secrets of the Party Island airs on BBC iPlayer and BBC Three from Sunday 21 April


BBC Three

16 April 2024 – Ibiza is moving upmarket. With access to clubs, villas and yachts as well as police and emergency services, Zara McDermott discovers what makes the island tick.

The series sees Zara follow the money, from the people spending it on the streets and in the clubs to the hilltop villas where much of the wealth resides. Zara goes on the beat and undercover with the police trying to save wealthy tourists from being parted with their high value items and intercept the island’s drugs trade.

With unprecedented access on the island, from the day and nightclubs – like O Beach, Ibiza Rocks and world famous Pacha to the island’s local and national police. Celebrity guests arriving at Ibiza’s shores include David Beckham, Leonardo Di Caprio and Lionel Messi to Ed Sheeran, Shakira and many more. And where celebrity goes, the rest of us are compelled to follow.

What makes this island so fascinating and alluring? And how long will the young party-going Brits who’ve been flocking here for decades be able to continue to make this their summer destination?

Interview with Zara McDermott

What drew you to making the documentary?

Over the years, I've always been really interested by documentaries that have been made on party islands but I wanted to make something that was current and looked into some of the issues that the party islands are facing today.

Ibiza particularly drew me in as I love the island and I've been going there for years. Nearly a million Brits a year head to Ibiza, and it’s been a go to destination for generations of holidaymakers looking for a particular combination of sunshine, great beaches and all night partying.

I’ve been able to watch it change and elevate over time and I realized that this would be a really exciting place to start looking into the effects of its changing culture and how it's evolving going forward.

What’s your personal experience with Ibiza?

I think Ibiza is one of the most amazing places in the world because you have everything on your doorstep. If you want to go and find a remote, picturesque beautiful beach, you can but if you want to go and party, listen to amazing music and mingle with people from all over the world, you can do that too.

I remember going to Ibiza about two years ago with my partner for a last minute getaway and found that it had changed drastically from the last time I was there. It felt like everything had ballooned in price and many hotels on the island were completely full. I read that Ibiza had become the third most expensive destination in the Med after St Tropez and Capri and it made me wonder what had changed.

How did you go about making the documentary?

Our first step was finding people who knew the island inside out and we met some amazing people in the initial stages of filming that we were able to return to through the summer. We built good relationships with the emergency services and it was important for us to build that trust and assure them that we were there to share their experiences and show a truthful insight into what they do across the summer.

We also formed relationships with the clubs, especially Tony Truman and Wayne Lineker who run O Beach in San Antonio and they gave us incredible access. I really wanted to make a documentary that's observational and shows the reality including what draws people to the island. The reality for most people who visit Ibiza is that it’s light, fun, exciting, exhilarating and the best time of their lives which some can save up for sometimes a year or even years to be able to experience.

What did you learn whilst making the documentary?

I did know that O Beach is seen as one of the top party hub hotspots of the island – especially amongst the Brits as it’s run by two British guys - but I wanted to dig a little deeper into how that worked. Seeing how it operates through high season was super interesting. I also learned a lot about the pressure on emergency services. I came away from the documentary feeling really empathetic towards the officers in the Guardia Civil who are the national police and the local police who work on the island.

I could see how overwhelming it was. One evening, I went out with the local police to Playa D’en Bossa, the heart of clubland on the island. Throughout the summer season there are up to 30,000 party-goers there a night, and often as few as four police officers. It felt like the pressure was just immense on them. It did leave me with further questions on how emergency services will evolve with the increasing demands of tourism and wondering if something could or would change.

Was there anything that particularly surprised you during your time on the island?

The level of wealth really shocked me. I was told about people willing to pay an extraordinary 30,000 euros for a table at their favourite club. When you see large amounts of money being handed over in person and start counting how many people are on the beach or in a club, you start to think how much money can be made there.

The industry there has done a really brilliant job of capitalising on British tourists coming over to Ibiza wanting that ‘VIP’ experience. They’ve made a really unique niche experience that you can't really get anywhere else. The ‘day parties’ which are now really popular on an island which previously had more of a nighttime party scene - they've done an amazing job at monopolising that.

What do you think makes Ibiza so appealing to holidaymakers in particular young people?

I think there is an image that a lot of people want to try and achieve. The island used to be seen as quite a ‘hippie island’ with a lot of natural beauty and over time it’s been seen as a place where you can go and be free, leaving your inhibitions behind. I think it’s quite a unique experience that you don't really get anywhere else. You can really feel that when you're there.

I also believe that social media has influenced the image of the island and money also plays a big part. Global celebrities are coming to the island now like Leonardo DiCaprio, who was two yachts down from us when we were filming. With that, I think it drives a different type of clientele.

In the documentary, you explore how the island has transformed over the years transitioning to attract a ‘higher class’ clientele. Why do you think this change is happening?

Many people say the beauty of Ibiza is that you can be in the same nightclub as an A-Lister and just be an ordinary tourist rubbing shoulders with some of the most rich and famous people in the world.

I think there's a huge VIP culture that is driving more celebrities to the island because it has wealth and offers a VIP lifestyle. That can then create a cycle which attracts the super-rich which then creates a bigger demand for people to come to Ibiza to experience that VIP culture for themselves even if they can’t afford it.

What should viewers expect when they tune in and what do you hope they can learn?

Viewers will go through the same experience I went on through filming and they can expect light and shade from the series. It’s not all doom and gloom but we don't shy away from the fact that drugs are a big problem on the island and the huge amount of pressure emergency services are under within the context of the incredible parties that happen. You really do get to see both sides of the island.

We were there to observe the reality and how Ibiza operates as it really is a huge operation to get such a tiny island equipped for thousands of holidaymakers travelling there every summer.

Source BBC Three

April 17, 2024 3:00am ET by Newsdesk  


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