The Spanish Countryside of 2023, from the perspective of the new ‘Grand Prix’

Two girls smoke at the door of an industrial warehouse in the middle of an industrial area in Fuenlabrada. They both wear helmets with stuffed monkey faces on them, but they smoke as if they have nothing on their heads. Their outfit is a T-shirt with a smiling cow on it, but they smoke as if their clothes were normal. Several Chinese people walk along the sidewalk, stopping to look at them with curiosity. This polygon is filled with warehouses and factories belonging to Chinese companies, so much so that the names of some streets are even translated into Chinese. It would be difficult to explain to these Chinese workers what they saw, but it would be very easy to explain it to any Spaniard who was alive in the 1990s: inside that huge warehouse, one of the few in the industrial area that had its sign in Spanish, has been registered Grand prize“The Grandfather and Child Program”, which returns on Mondays.

Both grandpa and kid will be stunned upon entering that set, as everything is ready to start recording the fourth episode of the new season of this classic that received TVE summers between 1995 and 2005. It’s like a giant Cheeky Garden where many things are happening at the same time. The comedic stuntman stretches Wilbur while, already in character as a style actor, he makes cartoonish noises with his voice. A boy dressed as a cow removes his head and gasps for air. Someone tells her there’s a whole movement on social media that finds the mascot surprisingly sexy, and her reaction makes it clear that this isn’t the first time she’s been told that.

– “You should keep the costume and use it for flirting,” says one of the partners.

– “No, because I will take it off and they will be disappointed,” he jokes.

Then he appeared. accompanied by You are the first, the last and everything De Barry White Ramon Garcia It puts the audience in the pocket just by being there. The public on site regards him with respect and treats him for what he is: a national symbol. Someone approaches him to tell him that there is a contestant who is very excited to meet him. She tells him that it is the most special day of her life. When I was young I loved him. It is curious how much in the 1990s Ramon García was Spain’s son-in-law, but under no circumstances Spain’s friend. They are similar things, but radically different.

– “I’ve always seen Grand prize With my grandparents,” the fan told him.

– “And are your grandparents here?” The presenter answers.

– “No, they’re not here anymore,” she explains, before starting to cry.

Start the first test. At the position of the blue team, Los Montesinos (Alicante). Elsewhere yellow, Tineo (Asturias). The contestants advance while their neighbors cheer like champs. Every time one got a point, the stands roared like a final football match. The 34 selected to take part in the auditions learned that they had been selected when they arrived at the group in the morning. The production company took into account various factors: parity (17 men and 17 women), physical condition (they can’t, for example, be too tall or too short) and their digital footprint. “They asked us for their social media profiles,” admits Montse Fernandez, mayor of Tinio. Nobody wants Grandpa and Baby to be tainted because some crazy contestant posted something he shouldn’t have in 2017.

During breaks, Belinda Washington, the godmother of Team Tineo, explains to her fans that “mental strength is very important,” and that if they build positive energy together, they will surely win. This magical thought manages to overcome fatigue realism: The 145 Tineo residents in this group get on the bus at 4 a.m. to get there at 11, start registration at 3, finish at midnight, and board another bus that will take them back to Tineo barely 24 hours after departure. The ones in Montesinos are the same, although it’s two hours less by bus. From the euphoria with which they cheer for their team, no one said they had 500 kilometers on them.

The contestants take part in one of the tests of the new season of the “Grand Prix”.David Exposito

“Madrid’s cities are a little less intense,” comments a member of the production team, referring to the first programme, which pitted Alfacar (Granada) against Colmenarejo (Madrid). Ramón García, who has been in contact with people and with cities for many years, has an explanation for Madrid’s warmth. “It always happens,” he assures. “This is because the program is registered in Madrid. Their trip is short, they don’t accumulate adrenaline during hours of travel, and they don’t have the same sense of adventure as those who come on trips from far away.”

Regarding Spanish TV Gave the green light to the new Grand prize, the production company contacted 548 cities in Spain that met the requirements: a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum of 10,000 registered residents. These are the same numbers that were set in 1995 for a simple reason. “If it’s less than 5,000, we run the risk of not having enough contestants,” explains executive producer Carlo Bauserman. “If there are more than 10,000, they may feel less eager to compete. In smaller towns, everyone knows each other, they are more attuned and more emotionally connected to their city’s pride. They have a greater sense of team belonging.” Of those 548 villages, more than 100 applied to participate. “Then the elections took place and there was some change,” Bozerman says.

In 1995, neither Tineo nor Los Montesinos were eligible to participate. Tineo hit the limit and Los Montesinos didn’t hit the bottom line. “Eight years ago we had more than 13,000 residents,” says the mayor of Tineo. But the closure of the mines, carried out by the socialist government, was a severe blow to the Council. We are now 9009 people. Hopefully, some companies will decide to settle on Tineo.”

Fernandez just entered the town hall. In fact, it was the former mayor who sent the application to compete in the city Grand prize. She is the first female mayor of Teneo’s People’s Party municipality in 20 years. With the advent of democracy, a local party called UCA (United Peasants) was formed, which held the mayoralty until 2001: the Workers’ Party won, the UCA dissolved, many of its members joined the PSOE, and a vote of no confidence in 2003 placed the PSOE on the city council, where it remained for two decades until Montse Fernández’s victory on May 28.

The mayor of Los Montesinos, Jose Manuel Botron, is a socialist. Fernandez replies, “I’d rather not know.” The program ensures that there is parity in political signals in the participating municipalities. Botron has been in office for 32 years, and was re-elected to his ninth legislature. Los Montesinos has a population of 5,600, so you’re in Grand prize At least thanks to the unprecedented growth in population of recent times: today it has 1,000 more inhabitants than it did five years ago, and the median age has been renewed. “We have the advantage that we are on the second line of the beach, just behind Torrevieja, so the houses are not very expensive,” says the mayor.

Fernandez and Butron see their engagement in Grand prize as an offering to their people. “Taíno is a city unknown even within Asturias,” the mayor laments. “But let all of Spain know it is a wonderful destination from April to November. We have chosco, our sausage. Refine gold because there is a river with gold. And Lorenzana butter. But we need to finish the A63 until it reaches our city.” Faced with the possibility of promoting Los Montesinos, the city’s mayor is less determined. “Let them see our camaraderie, our healthy youth and our sportsmanship. For nightlife, people probably go to Torrevieja, but we’ve grown a lot into sports entertainment. We have women’s soccer, swimming pools and tennis courts,” you posit.

Grand prize
Ramon García, during the recording of one of the programs of the new season of ‘Grand Prix’David Exposito

Spain is empty, a matter of national interest

“The idea of ​​showing the depth of Spain,” recalls the figure’s creator Francesco Büzermann, “arose because it represents the essence of an authentic Spain that is understood and enjoyed by all.” From towns rural identity to contestants in Grand prize As something strange, cute and cuddly. Today an empty Spain is a matter of national and new interest Grand prize It acquires a social meaning: it will show the whole country that the cities are full of life. They take this opportunity very seriously. Jorge, owner of the Vaqueiros ballroom (“vaqueiros is an ethnic group from here, from the mountains,” explains the mayor of Tineo), organizes classes, physical tests and exercise sessions so that everyone can get to Madrid in their best condition in case they have to compete. “Those from Los Montesinos came the old-fashioned way,” Ramon García asserts. But Tinio attended the Olympics. They fall, they throw themselves, they give it all up.”

The next test is nursing. They are tied up. As the contestants take their positions, one Tineo shouts: “Come on, Estella, she’s in your hands!” Estella is too focused inside her giant baby costume to worry about that pressure. The contenders refer to their rivals as “those who belong to the other extreme” and it’s nice to hear this expression, so perverted during the last months of campaigning, in such a harmless context. “It’s great that it opened the day after the election,” says Ramon García. We shall be a haven of peace after all this noise: two and a half hours of quiet watching Grand prize With a beer.

García introduces the contestants to the next round: Fran, from Los Montesinos (silence) and Omar, from Tineo (ovulation). Will Omar be more popular in his hometown than Fran is in hers? Or are Tineo positions already launched? In between times (as operators assemble and disassemble mega-sets for each test) one level chants the name of their city, another chants even louder and a council member approaches them to tell them to save all that energy when the cameras are recording. It’s six in the afternoon and there are about six hours of recording left. “At 10, I’ll go to the stands to bite them,” says Ramón García. “I tell them:” What’s the matter, are you tired? Don’t you have the balls to clap? “

Before breaking up for a snack (three words get older than Omar excited), Ramón García announces what’s coming next. He diligently opens his arms, slowly looks up at the sky and exclaims: “Hot Potato!” not for less. The hot potatoes in this group are the Golden Fleece. It’s the TV logo from before, which all these workers put so much effort into recreating.

Although there’s no cow, there are enough crumbs brought straight from 1995 to evoke the magic of the time: Ramon Garcia, Bowling, Belinda Washington. It’s as if the past 30 years have never happened on this set. But they happened. Thanks to mobile phones and the Internet, rural Spain is not as isolated from the rest of the world as it was in 1995. “They are more knowledgeable,” Ramon Garcia assures. And in this sense, their life is no longer so different from that of city dwellers. And you will be amazed to see the videos they send. They are so much more than action and editing and effects and everything.”

But the timeless values ​​of Grand prize Remains: camaraderie, sportsmanship, and the desire to excel. City pride above the mayor’s political party. This is emotional television Grand prize Recovery Suggests “You don’t have to be from a town to have a city,” says the presenter. “Everyone needs a town. A place to belong.”

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