The Fallout Over ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’: Blunders, Recriminations & Naiveté

cop

In a darkened editing suite in London, the final six episodes of ‒Big Trouble in Thailand” are slowly being pieced together. But the remainder of the reality miniseries that finally airs on the U.K.’s Bravo cable channel likely won’t be what creator Gavin Hill expected. Some might argue it never has been.

In truth, nothing about the eight-part series about Thai police and badly behaving Brits has gone according to plans, not Hill’s and certainly not those of the Thai bigwigs who months ago happily mugged with him for snapshots. The edited product is not the ‒Thai Cops” Hill claims he wanted to make and now Thai officials have gone into full witch-hunt mode, demonizing him, downplaying their involvement and doing all they can go discredit the show and bury the problems it highlighted.

Even officials in Pattaya, which so far has gotten off lightly, are promising that ‒heads will roll” after seeing a rough cut of Episode 3.

But should any what has unfolded over the past 11 days really have come as a surprise? Thais were never going to tolerate even remotely negative Western media coverage. And Hill’s own assertions that he never expected the reaction Episode 1 generated begs the question of not only how much he really understands Thailand, but whether he realized how little control over his pet project he really had.

‒I certainly regret any offense caused to the Thai authorities,” Hill told me in an interview this week. ‒Any offense caused was certainly not deliberate, although now – with hindsight and having learned a lot – I can see why it may have happened.”

Not Your Father’s ‘Cops’

It’s not hard to see why Thai police officials feel betrayed. They were pitched a spinoff of U.S. reality hit ‒Cops,” which follows officers on the beat, portrays them duly upholding the law and spending little time getting into the personal lives of the people they arrest. What they got was something totally different: a series that blatantly infers cops are crooked and that the justice system is not only slow, but only works for people with enough cash to pay their way out of trouble.

That type of thing simply isn’t done. There is no free press in Thailand. There’s not even free blogging, as was made painfully clear to me when I had my own blog and suffered physical attacks and death threats for writing the ‒truth.” How could Hill possibly think he could put out a show that pounds home the ‒truth” that Thai cops are corrupt? Or, for that matter, why did he think he could – as he does in Monday’s Episode 3 – criticize Thai authorities for letting a well-known con-man live in Pattaya simply by paying off law enforcement?

‒To think I could have made a western-style ‒Cops” series in Thailand … well, I must have been bonkers,” Hill wrote in a comment on my first ‒Big Trouble” story here. ‒I can’t begin to tell you what a challenge it was making this series for someone especially concerned – to the point of going out of his way – of not harming Thailand’s image.”

His claims of good intent don’t mesh with the final product, which definitely strays from the ‒Cops” model by delving deep into the lives of victims (and criminals), trying to put a heart-wrenching spin on their lives rather than simply focusing on law enforcement patrols as ‒Cops” does. That Hill maintains he was making ‒Thai Cops” makes you wonder if Bravo and Vera Productions, the film company partner that is editing the series, had their own ideas what the show should be.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWmv9o_14rE

‒I wasn’t making a probing, investigative documentary series designed to expose anything,” Hill said. ‒That was not the remit.  I was making a pro-police observational documentary series for a youthful demographic on a niche UK cable TV channel.

‒I haven’t been responsible for putting the show together in London,” Hill added. ‒I am interested in playing more of a role in that respect, in the future … if that’s possible.”

The Crackdown Begins

Earlier this week, the future, however, seemed somewhat in doubt. Hill told the Phuket Wan newspaper Sept. 14 that the Thailand Film Office sent a letter to Bravo asking that future episodes be canceled.

”I don’t know what’s going to happen now with the series,” he said. The Thailand Film Office has ”pulled all the releases and permissions that are required to complete the series.”

He has been told there is the likelihood of a complaint being made to the British embassy. At least one volunteer expat tourist policeman in Pattaya had also expressed concern.

In an interview with friend and freelance British journalist Andrew Drummond, Hill went further, saying he was not only being singled out by the Thais, but ostracized by his U.K. partners as well.

Meanwhile producer Gavin Hill, who was working for comedian Rory Bremner’s Vera Productions, said: ‒At the moment our relationship has come to an end.  They have not given any support. They are also not honouring some promises I made to the Thai authorities or corrections I am making to the scripts.

‒They appear to have left me out to dry. The Thai authorities are trying to get the series stopped.  But actually if they look at it closely they come off quite well.  We were primarily looking at British tourists on holiday.

Today Hill is backing down a bit from those claims, which some might contend he made  to sound like a victim, not a perpetrator. It could be his published comments upset those still working with his raw footage or Bravo, which finds itself with an unexpected hit. Episode 1 was seen by 113,000 people on TV. That’s not much for a country of 60 million, but more than the 95,000 Bravo was expecting. Many tens of thousands watched YouTube and pirated copies downloaded from the Internet.

‒I have to be honest with you, I don’t know what is happening with regards to the Thai government, police and future episodes of the show… really,” he said in his interview with me. ‒This is because the Thai government, as such, has made no contact with me. I really don’t know what they think at the very top about the series.  I only know what I read and, if the Bangkok Post article is anything to go by, then I assume the government views the series negatively. But that’s only an assumption on my part.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhuXUdBmej8

Hill was referring to a Sept. 16 Bangkok Post piece claiming police were ‒furious” over scenes in Episode 1 they claimed were ‒staged” to show jet ski vendor Vinai ‒J.J.” Naiman threatening British Royal Marines with a gun in order to extort 34,000 baht from them for damage they supposedly didn’t cause to one of his watercraft.

Phuket authorities quickly arrested Vinai after the show aired Sept. 7 with Phuket’s governor winning plaudits for finally clamping down on Patong Beach’s infamous jet ski scam artists. But the governor seemed to be alone in taking a pro-active response to the negatives ‒Big Trouble” brings up. Everyone else in government seems to prefer denying, discrediting and covering up, with the governor and police now even cooking up anti-Thai conspiracy theories.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Santhan Chayanont, chief of Provincial Police Region 8 which covers the upper South, yesterday said efforts to tarnish Thailand’s image might be coordinated. …

In the clip of the British marine, Mr. Vinai was seen to go to a storeroom and return with a gun which he dangled by his side. Santhan said the way clips had been made suggested a set up.

They had been edited to tarnish the image of both Thai tourism and the police force and presented only the negative side of the story through narrators, he said.

Santhan ordered police investigators to find out if any Thai individuals were involved in the making of the footage. They could face criminal charges. He also ordered his subordinates to run a check on the production of the clips and report the findings to him as soon as possible. …

Phuket governor Wichai Praisa-ngob yesterday said the clips might have been produced by someone who stood to benefit from Thailand tourism losing its competitive edge.

Criminal Charges

Santhan’s probe has moved quickly, with the Post today publishing news that Thai video-production house hired to work with Hill now facing criminal charges.

Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office which comes under the Tourism and Sports Ministry, yesterday said police had traced the tapes to a company called Black Sheep Productions.

She said the managers of the company, which had produced the ‒Big Trouble in Thailand” series for Bravo All News station in England, admitted to holding the copyright for the recordings.

Ms. Wanasiri said normal videos made by Thais do not require prior approval from the ministry’s Office of Tourism Development. But the people responsible for the Big Trouble In Thailand series … had violated Article 34 of the motion picture law by not having the contents examined by a Tourism and Sports Ministry film committee before they were broadcast abroad.

The company’s managers could face 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to a million baht.

Seksan Nakawong, director-general of the Office of Tourism Development, said the film-makers also violated Article 23 of the same law for making a film tarnishing the reputation of Thailand. …

Sasisupa Sungvaribud, president of the Film Production Services Association, said the recordings took the form of a reality show and the events depicted were obviously staged and scripts written for the film.

Hill, of course, has strenuously and repeatedly denied the jet ski scene was ‒staged,” although debate here and here show the definition of ‒staged” varies based on who you talk to. TFS2M’s SideShowBob may have summed the incident best here.

My initial point I never made is I highly doubt that jet ski situation would have gone down the way it was setup to be. And I mean set up. Usually when any of the military guys get in scraps the military police or attaches will call in the local military for aid.

I know some guys who are the liaisons for these situations, so before they have problems usually they go in heavy and the locals back down. So in this case had it been handled properly, not setup for a ‒show,” J.J. would have been forced to talk to Thai military guys.

Tell me how that would have turned out: Chances are, since the kid lied, J.J. would have been put down gently and the military guys would have skated off Scot-free.

So, in that scenario, the Thais are getting screwed due to the close relationship of the two militaries.

Gavin Hill and his team on the scene during filming of Big Trouble in Thailand.

Gavin Hill and his team on the scene during filming of Big Trouble in Thailand.

Hill, however, sticks to his guns in my interview with him:

All I can repeat is that the scene with J.J. was not staged in any way;  not by me or anyone connected with the series. J.J. invited us to film a case and that case panned out the way it did with me filming all the while.  J.J. could have chosen any case to show us.

‒I gave him an opportunity, a platform to tell his side of the story because there are always two sides to a story. That’s what I do: tell them as best I can.  J.J. did his thing. The Marines did theirs.  And I did mine. But my only role was to turn up and record what happened.  And what happened was as much a surprise to me as I think it has been to everyone.  Only I was there and witnessed it first-hand, which was unnerving at times.

‒People keep asking why would JJ behave like that?  Well, I think the reasons is pretty obvious: Why do many of us most often behave in ways we later regret?  It ain’t rocket science and the evidence is there if you notice.

Clearly, jet skis are a real problem for Thailand’s tourist areas – Phuket, Samui (next on Hill’s hit list) and even Pattaya. The week before the British soldiers got swindled, Vinai took U.S. Marines for 70,000 baht. And, on Koh Samui, soon to be highlighted in the series, a Swedish couple had to be escorted to the airport after their lives were threatened by a jet ski vendor there.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gamMhnultLs

Even in today’s Bangkok Post article Tourist Police Chief Adis Ngamjitsuksri ‒conceded the extortion of tourists was a problem which the police alone could not stamp out.” And more meetings were being planned in Phuket today to radically change the rental system there and impose an insurance scheme and much lower penalties for damage, as well as removing requirements tourists give their passports to vendors as collateral.

Episode 3: Pattaya Spotlighted

There’s also evidence to support that Episode 3 upcoming Monday – in which Pattaya will for the first time dominate the screen — has already had a positive effect.

Alleged Hyperfinance con-man Lance Shaw

Alleged Hyperfinance con-man Lance Shaw

Immigration police on Tuesday arrested 64-year-old Lance Frederick Shaw, an alleged Australian con man who supposedly cheated people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a gold-investment scam and other fraudulent ventures for more than 25 years. Episode 3 originally criticized Pattaya police for ignoring the complaints of defrauded investors and allowed him to live peacefully in Sin City by paying large bribes.

The episode that airs Monday now will show the arrest but not necessarily less criticism of the Pattaya authorities.

Hill told me today that Pattaya Police, which saw a rough cut of Monday’s episode, have promised ‒heads will roll” and that another investigation into Big Trouble’s makers will be launched.

Monday’s show also has a Pattaya jailhouse interview with Marcus Hilton (aka Marcus James) from the U.K. and Australia who was facing a possible death sentence. Also featured in Pattaya are a British bloke having a dispute with a very persistent bar girl who literally gives him a run for his money and a Kosovan man with a U.K. passport who gets a good beating from Pattaya cops after offending them in some way.

It will be interesting to see if the ruckus over ‒Big Trouble” will result in Vera and Bravo watering down the show or, as some alluded to earlier this week, making it more vanilla and palatable to Thai tourism authorities. Hill doubts it.

‒I’m not sure how anything could be watered down. The content we’ve gathered is the content we’ve gathered,” he told me. ‒I can’t see anything more coming up that would upset anyone in the way it has. But then I didn’t expect the reaction to the first episode.”

88 thoughts on “The Fallout Over ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’: Blunders, Recriminations & Naiveté

  1. The show is in essence little different to the Ibiza/Greece Uncovered Sky ilk of shows. Lurid and sensationalist, sure, but pretty representative of reality and not too shocking to anyone who’s been there.

    Disagree that you feel ssb sums it up accurately. “Staged” is not scripted (despite what the authorities might be trying to imply with their witch hunt) and some degree of staging/grandstanding is inevitble whenever cameras are present. This is also true on “COPS”.

    The Royal Marine police officer has made statements on this subject and there is no reason whatsoever to doubt his integrity.

    • comb – I think the jetski scene was forced in a way by creating a situation for the camera that was no indicative of how it might have gone done if the royal naval guys had tried to deal with it they way they normally do. which is through local attaches who usually make the problem go away. that’s all – this is not to say something like what happened is not possible but I think it was somewhat forced.

      I am surprised though that no matter how it all happened that people would be shocked the thai government is wanting to cover it all up. I hope gavin and team make some cash from this since a lot of the thais involved are probably facing a lot of issues in the future for helping out on this “project”. My guess is gavin and team are also not so welcome in thailand anymore.

      🙂

  2. Fake Scotsman and thin-skinned tabloid journalist Andrew Drummond has nailed his colours to Gavin’s mast too. (stop snickering YP)

    Wonder if he’ll cop some flak.

  3. “I know some guys who are the liaisons for these situations, so before they have problems usually they go in heavy and the locals back down. So in this case had it been handled properly, not setup for a “show,” J.J. would have been forced to talk to Thai military guys.”

    I don’t really get your point here. Because SOME liasons you know USUALLY call their military friends, the fact that these ones didn’t means it staged and they must have done it this way for the show? Few rather large assumptions there.

    And assuming these guys normally would call their military friends, why would it not be done when the cameras are rolling? Sounds like good tv to me.

  4. “Tell me how that would have turned out: Chances are, since the kid lied, J.J. would have been put down gently and the military guys would have skated off Scot-free.

    So, in that scenario, the Thais are getting screwed due to the close relationship of the two militaries.”

    Also can’t remember if the kid lied, but IMO there is no way he caused the damage that just happened to be perfectly obscured by a big blue bumber without a scratch on it.

    JJ took some marines for 70K the week before. I don’t get the feeling he would be the one getting screwed tbh.

  5. “Bravo and Vera Productions, the film company partner that is editing the series, had their own ideas what the show should be.”

    And there’s the source of the grief. The program is far less of a documentary than it is an editorial.

  6. i would not believe the fuss it is causing.just showing what drunk westeners do when in thailand.i hope it will show the whole series.maybe a few home truths are being exposed

  7. This opinion, posted in the Bangkok Post hits the nail on the head:

    “Why I like it here

    It seems to me that a lot of Post Bag letters and article comments are centred around corruption, and why Thailand doesn’t do anything to stop corruption. I can only speak for myself, but I for one am quite happy with the status quo.

    I like that I can take my car home at night even if I am a bit drunk, and not be stopped by the police; and if I were stopped, I could bribe my way out of it.

    I like that my company can pay pretty much what I want in taxes, as long as my ”discount” is reflected in a bonus to the staff at the Revenue Department.

    I like that when I bring a young lady to a hotel room and she has conveniently ”forgotten” her ID, the receptionist is easily convinced to look the other way.

    I like that I can buy a piece of land, and not only will a small bribe place me at the front of the often very long queue at the Land Dept’s office, it will also ensure that I can value the land at a very low price and thereby pay a very small transfer fee/tax.

    I also like that should I happen to build an extra floor on a beach house, and it is later found to be against the building regulations, then that can be fixed, too.

    I like that if I happen to do a little bit of drugs, and I get caught, then apparently a substantial bribe will ensure I do not go to jail. I like that the bars I frequent can get away with providing me the kind of entertainment I like, as long as the local police get their share.

    My little ”I like” list could go on forever, but I think you get my point. At the end of the day, being able to bribe my way through life in Thailand not only ensures that I can pretty much do what I want, it also saves me a lot of time and money.

    I am aware that none of the above benefits neither poor Thais nor poor foreigners, but then again, we all know it sucks to be poor.

    JOHN KEATING”

    http://bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/24118/a-scammer-heaven

  8. @ssb: not sure that people are shocked about the cover up, seems more to me like it confirms people’s preconceptions and gives them an opportunity to bang on the same drum.

    @I Phuket: that does hit the nail on the head, and is true also for many westerners who choose to live in Thailand.

  9. Good write up PG. Also give props to I Phuket for the comment. When I worked in China I often heard the comment that if one had lots of cash then the best place to live in the World was China (Thailand also fits), whereas if you had little or no cash then the best place was NZ or Australia (dole, subsidized schooling, healthcare etc. etc.). They often laughed at how China is supposedly “communist” but in reality it is pure capitalism, whereas NZ and Aus were more socialist.

    I’ve watched the first couple of episodes as well as some original footage on youtube, and can’t figure out how the series was supposed to show Thai police in a good light. Or was it “Thai Tourist Police” who were the ones supposed to be looking good? In that case it is more successful.

  10. Blunders, recriminations, naivety! Bit over the top here aren’t we. The fact is that programme will certainly not be pulled and the Thais are running around in circles blaming everyone but themselves. The culmulative affect will be this story will go overseas, its already in the press in LA and whereas originally only 116,000 saw the rip off of the Royal Marines millions will now learn about the jet ski rip-offs. That I call a result.
    Those complaining at the moment are not complaining because they are worried about the affects on tourism but because they have lost face – a loss which incidentally is not going to be regained easily.
    From a mish mash of selected quotes you have created a scenario of your own imagination. The differences between Hill and the producton company are easily resolved. They are minor differences and the sort of thing likely to happen when the field producer director is not in for the edit.
    There is nothing serious there that bothers me or anyone involved in the production that much I am sure.
    Of course now its all looking a bit like ‘the series they tried to gag’ At the end of the day the production company will think – well was’nt all that fuss great especially the conspiracy theorist on Farang Speaks too Much, who keeps anonymous, but is out their putting his life on the line for telling the truth.
    I especially loved this btw: ” Usually when any of the military guys get in scraps the military police or attaches will call in the local military for aid”.
    Yes I can visualise the Royal Marines calling in Sgt Major Gop,..mm I dont think so. Maybe the US Marines.

  11. The only thing that surprises me about all this (the handling by the western media, the Thai reaction, the video itself) is that anyone is actually surprised.

    Anyone who has lived in Thailand could have written the screenplay for this charade.

    Spoiler Alert! The “surprise” ending: it’s all swept under the carpet and the Thais communally agree to stop talking about it (probably by next month).

    Ultimately, we can all rest in the assurance that, at least in Thailand, nothing will change.

  12. “Executive Producer” is King. He can do what he wants back in the editing bay. Here in Canada the ‘final lock in the can’ is made by him. Director’s are always getting screwed once dailys make it back to the office.

    Can’t do shit about it… see it aaaaalllllllll the time.

  13. “They were pitched a spinoff of U.S. reality hit “Cops,” which follows officers on the beat, portrays them duly upholding the law…”

    And if the Royal Thai Police were to familiarize themselves with the idea of duly upholding the law, rather than operating as a mafia, the usable footage from the shoot might have been given a different spin.

    The RTP is rotten to the core, at every level, and the mid-level nobody who authorized the project is likely no exception. The poor fool was probably working under the assumption that the foreign press is as cowed as the local press in reporting on police misconduct. Som nam naa…

  14. Great piece, Ghost. Many thanks.

    There is no free press in Thailand. There’s not even free blogging, as was made painfully clear to me when I had my own blog and suffered physical attacks and death threats for writing the “truth.”

    Ouch!

  15. Mr Drummond : “At the end of the day the production company will think – well was’nt all that fuss great especially the conspiracy theorist on Farang Speaks too Much, who keeps anonymous, but is out their putting his life on the line for telling the truth.

    I was under the impression that the Ghost’s identity was known: he even used the platform of this blog to publish a publicity about his business in Pattaya!

    ***

    On the other hand, did the Ghost got nailed here?:

    …From a mish mash of selected quotes you have created a scenario of your own imagination. The differences between Hill and the producton company are easily resolved. They are minor differences and the sort of thing likely to happen when the field producer director is not in for the edit.
    There is nothing serious there that bothers me or anyone involved in the production that much I am sure.

  16. Katchmeifyoucan — Not at all. I actually quite admire Drummond’s work, but he’s guilty of a little selective reading here. I did nto create any scenario. I posed a question based on the very Hill quotes Drummond used in his own blog/newspaper article, as well as Hill’s quotes, the same day, to Phuket Wan.

    Then I simply asked the readers whether they beleived this could have caused some problem with the production team. I didn’t state as a fact there was one.

    And, yes, Andrew, my identity is known to many in Pattaya.

  17. Love this show, makes me miss Thailand and I can’t wait to return! I see all these people as victims of there own stupidity.

    Marine getting ripped off by the jet ski guy – was told before about the jet ski scams but failed to heed the warnings.
    Misha – OK I do feel some pity for young people, BUT… if she would have taken a few minutes to read the warning signs cautioning drug offenders at the airport, around the beach (I’m referring to the signs on the beach/docks that are shown in the video), warning that are given about drug use/possession that can be found in 30 seconds with a basic Google search, etc. she should have known the severity of getting caught with drugs in Thailand. She kept going on about how the laws are different in her home country than in Thailand and it’s not fare – you are not in your home country so fair/unfairness of punishment is irrelevant. I think Misha’s biggest mistake is choosing such a loser for a boyfriend. But the series leads you to believe you she is still with the same guy so I lost all pity for her. And what other country can you visit and have such a great time (minus getting caught for drug possession) with only 5000 baht in your pocket!
    Guy who pissed on the taxi – paid 2000 baht and was out of there. I think he would have had to pay more and would have at least spend a night in jail in the US for a similar offense (hard to generalize because the police forces in different cities would will handled the same situation differently but across the board I think he would have faired worse in a US city). At the very least he deserved a good ass whoopin by the Thais. I know I would be mad as hell if he pissed on my car! Basically the above applies to all the other drunks.
    Guy who was in jail for selling drugs – don’t like the prison? Don’t break the laws in the country you are visiting and you don’t have to worry about cramped prison living conditions, getting beat by the guards, etc.
    The guy who is in prison for the ATM scam – he says he is innocent. It’s not that I don’t believe him but I don’t think the Thai police arrest to many people for doing “nothing”. Not saying it does not happen but I’m interested to see how this plays out and I would like to know what evidence the Thai police have.

    I think Thailand deserves many kudos for hosting all these people in their wonderful country and HELPING them when they do act like complete asses. As an example: the woman who was taken home by the police because she was stupid and got so drunk that she made herself open to many crimes. I don’t thing there are many police departments in big cities in the US that would have done the same. I have been traveling to Thailand for a few years and with a little common sense and basically following the same rules as I do in my home country I have never had any problems. And I always have a GREAT time when I visit. Yes there are scams against tourist (as there are in every country I have been to) but with a little research and common sense they are easily avoided.

    I don’t really see the Thai police being shown in a negative light in this series. But I will agree that they are not being glorified like the Tourist Police are. Any police forces job is to act when people break the law and that is what I see the Thai police doing in this series. I was surprised at how quickly the police brought in the Thai suspect in the incident where the guy got hit over the head and robbed. And the suspect was brought in because he looked “suspicious”, awesome! One thing the show did not comment on is where the guy was at when he got robbed. My guess he was not out in an open, populated area; but this is just a guess on my part. The show says these people complaints feel on deaf ears (Thai police) but I think the Thai police responded very quickly in this incident.

    Before I visit another country I consult the internet or a book and do some basic research on local customs and laws. But in general I find that if you are not a jackass you will be fine in most countries. I will agree that punishment for crimes in most Asian countries are much more harsh than we are use to in the “West” (it also seems there are not as many repeat offenders in Asia as there are in the West but that is another topic). But the best way I’ve found to NOT subject yourself to a foreign countries Judicial System is to not act like a Jackass. All these people I’ve seen so far are victim of their own stupidity.

    Just my 2 cents, which with 200 baht will get you a damn good burger and fries at the Big Mango:-)

  18. Hardly suprising that when the excrement meets the fan people start ducking for cover.

    Tourists being ripped off in Thailand? Unbelievable.

    Corrupt police? Who would have thought it.

    The quote “They had been edited to tarnish the image of both Thai tourism and the police force and presented only the negative side of the story through narrators, he said.” is one of the funniest things I have read in weeks. We all go or live there for the beauty of the temples. I visited 1 in 1991. The cuisine is great but I have 4 Thai restaurants within 10 minutes drive of where I live. If the arse end of the earth can manage that many I can only wonder the numbers more cosmapolitan cities can muster.

    As long as the tarts are readily available Thailand’s tourist trade will do well.

  19. I’ve seen the first two episodes and can’t imagine anyone who’d been considering a trip to Thailand would want to step foot in the country after watching them. Sadly, the only folks that’d find inspiration to go to Thailand after watching “Big Trouble” would be those looking for “Big Trouble”–which the country has entirely too much of already (like that needed to be said once again, ugh.)

    A big thanks to he who wrote up this particular blog and those who took the time to respond intelligently. An even bigger thanks to Gavin Hill for collecting all of the great footage. Yes, it may be that it’s being manipulated one way or another, but as he’s said “the content we’ve gathered is the content we’ve gathered”. Even with a medium like video certain things will remain what they are no matter what.

    To those Westerners living in Thailand, don’t take offense. Yes, we all know that you know that Thailand is a corrupt place. You live there and it’s part of your life. Just keep in mind that Thailand is aggressively advertised across the world as a great place to vacation. The vast majority of Westerners that come to Thailand just want to have a good holiday then go home. A lot of them bring their children as well–would you honestly want your children exposed to what goes on in Pattaya or Phuket? Be reasonable and ask yourselves why anyone in a situation other than your own would want to come to Thailand. “Big Trouble” isn’t about convincing Johnny Hotspur to wise up and move back to London; it’s about providing a look at what goes on more often than not; it’s about providing a balance between the idyllic and the realistic.

    • sil – u are exactly why this video is a bad idea. Thailand is a great place and most of the time nothing happens here. any more than anywhere else

      I don’t think families need to go to pattaya – maybe anymore than they should go to vegas

      so in typical over the top sensationalist fashion – gavin and team showed a slice of the bad – with nothing about the good

      this could happen anywhere. Should I not go to america because of cops?

      please. as usual there won’t be any balance to the reporting. much in the way BBC always harps on thailand

      hopefully good stuff will come out of this video but if people have the attitude that you have it will be sad for thailand

      like I keep saying – hopefully gavin and team will announce when they have been blacklisted from thailand just to round of the “dose” of reality

  20. “I like that I can take my car home at night even if I am a bit drunk, and not be stopped by the police; and if I were stopped, I could bribe my way out of it.”

    Yeah it hits the nail on the head alright – of what an idiot this guy is..

    • jl – totally agree. this is the side of it that is so silly

      corruption being so endemic that people think it is okay

      I like the freewheeling notion of thailand and the liberties it provides – driving drunk should not be one of them

  21. @ssb, No they dont have to go to Pattaya, but they might walk through the airport, or go to the grand palace, or walk around silom.

    Thailand is scam central. We all know it.

    And pretty hard to do a show involving the cops here and have them NOT come off in a bad light.

  22. sideshowbob – I’m sorry you feel this way. But, people need to know that these things in fact do go on in Thailand. And, I’m sorry again, but to say “most of the time nothing happens here. any more than anywhere else” is just plain wrong. If Thailand was the same in this regard as anywhere else, then why do so many of you chose to live there? You chose to live there because it is like this; because it is more dangerous than the West. You live there because, as has been stated over and again, you never know what the day will bring. And, that’s what works for you. No one’s knocking your choice. Please, allow others to have theirs.

    • sil – i did not say u cant have your opinion. u obviously do and I am not here cause it is scam central and dangerous

      it is not

      I spent 2 night held by some regional authorities in indonesia over a scam

      do I think indo is bad and will I never go back

      not at all

      this show is over the top and is highlighting over the top shit

      and yes – that is my opinion

      each to his own right?

      I also think the notion of scams is totally different than personal safety

      so to act like this is a dangerous place is just plain wrong

      I also love how most people depicted in the videos are western drunks, scammers and drug dealers who end up in thailand. which sucks really but such is life…

  23. I’ve seen the first two episodes and can’t imagine anyone who’d been considering a trip to Thailand would want to step foot in the country after watching them.

    silbundio — My interview with Hill obviously gave me more content than I could use but Hill said something related to your quote above. He — no surprise — disagrees with you and thinks no one will stay away from Thailand because of what is in the series:

    Do I think my series will put off the 18-34 viewer from holidaying in Thailand? Honestly? No, I think they will come in droves having watched the series and hopefully be better informed when they do.

    There’s nothing in our series that doesn’t happen elsewhere and, in my view, Thailand is pretty tame compared to many other countries. I agree with many who argue that worse happens in a U.K. provincial town on Friday and Saturday night.

    Google another series of mine, Generation Xcess. It’s on YouTube. More Brits behaving terribly. U.K. TV can’t get enough of it, but does that put anyone off traveling to Sandbach in Cheshire because a bunch of blokes are getting their kit off in the local pubs? (The RFU did take a dim view of their antics, though.) Will people stop visiting Blenheim Palace, another series I made a short while back, because John Terry got married there? (Well, I might.)

    Also, just my own point: You’re very wrong about children in Pattaya. I’ve been here six years almost and there are many, many more families that holiday here, small children or no. I’d have no problem taking my kids (if I had them) to this area. Lots for all to do here.

  24. However, the jetski stuff was well set up. Just look at that JJ, there was no way that guy was thai, he was a white mofo, didn’t even have slitty eyes.

    Bet he couldn’t tell one end of a rice field from another.

    • l – its funny. I kept waiting for him to even swear in thai and he never did

      seems rather odd…

      not even one ayehear or ayesat

  25. I don’t consider Thailand dangerous at all, but it is quite obviously rife with people trying to seperate you from your coin in any way they can, including the trusty police. And yes, ssB, no different to the touristy areas in indo, but a lot diferent to these areas in every other country I’ve visited.

    • jl – I was not even in a tourist area in indo. I see your point but life is about balance

      I do not believe in the slightest that this show is anything about “reality” or balance

      my guess is some good will come out of it and that is cool but so will a lot of bad

      and i think some of those associated with it might live to regret it

      • Along those lines, ssB, here’s another outtake from my interview with Hill you might find interesting:

        I have no motive or inclination to make myself unwelcome in Thailand. I love Thailand and given the opportunity wouldn’t hesitate to help redress any perception that Thailand’s many positives don’t get enough attention.

        Given half a chance I’d leap at the opportunity to work for TAT. Fabulous hotels, unbeatable service, wonderfully welcoming people, safer than most countries … and I could wax lyrical about this incredible country.

  26. sideshowbob – What I’ve said here hasn’t been an opinion. What I’ve said regarding ones mind was to let others make their own choices. And, to make a choice one needs to be informed. That’s pretty much it.

    I, for one, appreciate what Gavin’s done. It’s the first time mainstream Western primetime television media has made an attempt to show what goes on in Thailand isn’t all smiles and courtesy. People need to know that. If it’s perfectly OK to examine Western society down to every possible angle and nuance, we should also be allowed, at the very least, access to some of the truth of life in Thailand. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    As far as the whole thing showing Thailand negatively, etc. well, there’s where opinion comes in. For those wondering, take a look and decide for yourself.

  27. SSB – you are on the mark definitely more often than not, but will have to agree with silbundio on this one. Frankly speaking, your business will gain from an increase in tourists and conversely will suffer from a decrease in tourists. Though this series may cause damage to your business in the short term this may actually be the spark to get the fire of change lit. Change will rarely happen (especially in Thailand) without publicity and though the story may be woven together to support a certain slant or theme, the content is the content and in the Land of Denial, thankfully, all captured on tape. The change that may be brought about could possibly save tourists (your future customers) from being victims and swearing off ever coming back to Thailand.

  28. Only thing missing is Harris Black being interviewed in a 99 baht all you can eat restaurant on Soi Dianna Inn. Timeshare scams in Phuket and Pattaya would be interesting to cover. Gem scams get enough coverage in Lonely Planet as well as the misinformed backpacker paying 50 baht for a bottled water outside the Grand Palace.

  29. @PG: Agree with you about families & Pattaya. I take my kids down from Bangkok every couple of weeks and they love it. Lots of family stuff to do & it is good that most of the crazy “out in the open” stuff is on Walking Street – as it makes it easy to avoid with the family.

    Been avoiding the water park recently though.

  30. The video is just a great way of Fear Mongering… That’s it, plain an simple. There is a lot of Politics going on behind the scenes.

    “It’s the first time mainstream Western primetime television media has made an attempt to show what goes on in Thailand isn’t all smiles and courtesy.”

    When I’m back home in the West and mention I just returned from Thailand the 1st reaction i always get from people is, Hmmmm how were the little boy’s and did you have fun with the ladyboys and how much did the girls cost?

    “its the first time mainstream WPTV” made an attempt to show what goes on in Thailand. People in the west have already made up they’re minds in regards to Thailands image. This piece doesn’t add to helping it out. This just reinforces the narrow minded and naiveness of those people to make more comments.

    Also, I noticed a lot of families in Pattaya.

  31. Just to open up the “staged” debate again . . . I think for most people staged means scripted. I don’t believe this to be scripted. Do I believe that JJ hammed it up for the film crew? Yes. But any unscripted television show where the people know they’re being filmed is the same. You could just as easily say all “reality” television is staged. Big Brother is staged. Survivor is staged. American Idol is staged.

    But most people don’t think that simply being aware that they’re being filmed qualifies as staged so we accept that Survivor though completely contrived is not staged.

    The second point I wanted to make is regardless of what Gavin Hill is claiming today, the show was not Thai Cops. First off, much of the footage would never have been shot to later be misused if that is what it was supposed to be. There would have been no reason for following the story of the girl who got banged up over some dope all the way to her getting off the airplane back in the UK. How many episodes of Cops have you ever seen where they followed the case all the way through to conclusion? I think the official tally is zero. They film – as they say in the intro – the men and women of law enforcement. Big Trouble did not stick to that formula. In fact, the whole JJ incident had no police involvement.

    I’m not being critical of the show when I say that. I quite enjoy it and appreciate that it was made. But at the same time I really find it hard to buy Gavin’s constant assertions that this was supposed to be just like Cops when the show so obviously deviates from telling the story as seen through the eyes of law enforcement. Nor could the editors back in the UK be altering anything that was never shot. They followed the girl all the way through the legal process. They even followed her right up to the door of the hearing room where she was judged. They sent a film crew to capture her tearful reunion with her family. That’s not Cops. None of that video would ever exist if the goal was to do Thai Cops.

    I also have to say that I get a chuckle when the Thai police claim that the JJ incident was staged to make Thailand look bad. Did he or did he not pull a gun? That’s it. There is no need to discuss anything else being staged. A jet-ski operator pulled a gun – even a BB gun to intimidate some tourists. Case closed.

    Unless the cops are claiming that the film crew bought a gun and tricked him into holding it or CGI added it in post-production then JJ’s behavior speaks for itself. And even JJ admits he pulled the gun even if he now claims it was just for show so . . . what exactly are they claiming was staged or edited to only show the bad side. The bad side is pulling a f**king gun on tourists!!!!!!

    BTW, I love the Phuket Gazette article. Many jet-ski operators are complaining about the new rules saying that they have to have insurance on their jet-skis. They say that they can’t afford insurance even though they’ve been told they can pass the cost of the insurance onto the customers.

    Of course, what they mean to say is that the insurance companies are never going to pay 8 or 9 times for the same damage nor will they pay 50,000 baht to fix something that costs about 12,000 baht to repair. Suddenly renting jet-skis just became a lot less profitable.

    http://www.phuketgazette.net/news/index.asp?id=7794

    • bb – good points but on the insurance thing since this will now be gov mandated do u really think that the insurance companies will charge a fair price?

  32. @ssB: What is a fair price? I think it’s going to be rather relative. I have no idea what the rental rate is right now (I’ve never rented a jet-ski) but whatever it costs if the cost of the insurance is added on to the top of that then the market will determine what’s fair. If people quit renting because the price is too high then the operators will go out of business and the insurance company will have less operators to insure. So, on the whole, I do think that the cost of insurance will be affordable as it’s not in the best interests of the insurance companies to price their customers out of business.

    The big problem is I bet people like JJ have built a lifestyle that relies on scamming tourists. Just look at those Royal Marines. What did they end up paying? Something like 40,000 baht. First off, JJ isn’t going to repair any of the claimed damage (it might come in handy when he needs to scam the next tourist) so the entire 40,000 is pure profit. Like I said, I have no idea what the hourly rental rate is but someone like JJ would probably only clears 40,000 or 50,000 a month in legitimate profits. He runs his little scam 3 or 4 times a month and he’s gone from 40,000 a month to 160,000 – 200,000 baht per month.

    So guys like him will be crying bloody murder that they can’t make a living with the cost of the insurance because the real cost to JJ is 120,000 – 160,000 a month in lost revenue.

    But it extends even farther than that. This scam has been going on for decades in full view. Police are often called by the operators to put more pressure on the victim saying that if he doesn’t pay he might have to deal with the cops. So follow the money.

    In the end I think the net outcome is that this is going to impact the lifestyles of a lot of people in Phuket. Possibly tens of millions of baht will not be finding its way into the Thai economy.

    • bb –

      So, on the whole, I do think that the cost of insurance will be affordable as it’s not in the best interests of the insurance companies to price their customers out of business.

      wow. landlords price tenants out all the time, hotels price out customers – pricing out demand happens all the time in thailand

      my point is the corruption will move into a different part of the overall deal

      now that the jetski operators are gov mandated to buy insurance the insurance guys will now soak the jetski guys

      I am not defending the scene but for sure that is what will happen

  33. Yo Thailand, I’m real happy for you. Imma let ya’ll finish but Nigeria has one of the best scams of all time… OF ALL TIME!!

  34. I read in the Phuket papers the rental rates are usually 1,500 baht for 15-20 minutes. Phuket Wan estimated that, with insurance, the rate to tourists likely would only increase by 100 baht.

    Somewhere else I read that guys like JJ clear in legitimate profits from rental about 120,000 a month … before the scams.

    And Billy Bangkok, I’m surprised at you:

    If people quit renting because the price is too high then the operators will go out of business and the insurance company will have less operators to insure.

    You’ve been here long enough to know that’s a very UN-Thai way to think! Just look at the bars and hotels. Fewer customers = higher prices. Or, in the case of the girlies, take a lower rate from Farang A for multiple days or score half that amount for one night. They’ll take the one-night deal every time.

    Thais do not ever consider long-term economics.

  35. ssB: Overall it’s simply a fundamental shift in the entire market. Yes, corruption might move here or there but at the core there is going to be less money to go around. Like I said originally, no insurance company is going to pay 40,000 baht to fix a little ding in some fiberglass. And they’re not going to pay to fix the same ding half a dozen times.

    That’s where the big money in jet-ski rentals was. So the insurance companies could attempt to soak the jet-ski operators but there’s not a whole lot of money to soak if the operators are forced to run a legitimate operation.

    The operator is going to pass the cost of the insurance on to the consumer. If the consumer decides riding a jet-ski isn’t worth the price being charged then . . . no more jet-ski business. No jet-ski business, no jet-ski business to insure.

    The whole jet-ski scam operated much on the same principle as the upstairs shows in Patpong. Lure in an unsuspecting mark and then present them with an astronomical bill. Then apply coercion, threats of violence, or threats of being thrown in jail to extort the money.

    But if you take away the ability of the jet-ski operator to extort money from the customer for supposed damages to the jet-ski there really isn’t anywhere in the process to apply coercion. They can’t force users to rent jet-skis. Maybe they can start playing little games like renting it to you for an hour and then having a very fast clock and claiming you have to pay for the next full hour because you went over the first hour but that’s chump change compared to whacking some guy for 30,000 or 40,000 baht for a small ding.

    Essentially, forcing jet-ski operators to have insurance killed an entire industry. Not the jet-ski industry but all of the corruption the industry supported. The corruption was an industry all to itself that was far, far more profitable than the actual jet-ski business. That money will simply evaporate because it was all tourist cash. Cash that likely won’t get spent on other things in Thailand.

    So I see what you’re saying but I really don’t think that the insurance companies have enough room to do too much soaking.

    On a side note, I wouldn’t be too surprised to read a story sometime in the next month or two of jet-ski operator JJ being found beaten to death on an isolated beach. He killed the goose that laid the golden eggs for a lot of people.

    Do the math, there are roughly 50 jet-ski operators in Patong. Let’s say that each operator can scam tourists twice a month for 20,000 baht. That’s 2 million baht a month or 24 million baht per year that JJ just took out of the pockets of his fellow operators. And let’s not forget that a good chunk of that cash was probably finding its way into the pockets of people who allowed it to occur. Somebody’s kid isn’t going to a private international school after all.

  36. @PG: Good information. Thanks. I also read the part about the cost only increasing about 100 or 200 baht as well.

    In terms of how Thailand works . . . yes, I know. But insurance companies are typically not run by Issan farmers with a sixth grade education. These are the same people who provide car insurance, motorcycle insurance, health insurance, life insurance, etc. Insurance, is by it’s very nature, long-term oriented.

  37. Those of us that live here do so because we like living on the edge, whither it be with the women, the cops or all of the thugs and scams out there. Most of us have become street smart enough to avoid most of the pitfalls that the average tourists can and usually do walk into.
    None of us will ever make a dent in the cleaning up of the thousands of scams, nor do we really want to. I think there is not one of us that hasn’t been on the short end when it comes to the wonderful ladies of the night here. My motto is to all tourists, let the buyer beware, because even if you attempt to tell them the pitfalls, for some reason they just don’t want to believe you and you have spent precious time for nothing. There is no reward for stupidity.

  38. @Billy Bangkok : FULL ACK

    @THE MAN : wow nice attitude you have. Just because you might assume that people not listening to advice doesnt mean they really do it in general. I think most of us have become street smart because they are open enough to listen to other peoples experiences plus make their own and combine this to control their behavior to act/react to the situations that a life or stay in thailand brings.

    @the story itself: Big trouble in little thailand or whatever. what waste of lifetime watching it. imho everybody can know / educate himself that things like this happen everywhere in the world. and the widespread corruption that catalyses it here even faster one can easily find our by google(or bing/whatever) in a few minutes.

    @human tsunami: lol. full ack. what a great interruption. YMMD

  39. Showing the jet-ski scam could be helpful to tourist in that the renter beware. I also don’t think it will stop young people who IMHO will be the ones renting,drinking and acting in this manner. In fact I think more will come because of the rebelous nature of the young. To them it looks beautiful and a bit dangerous and cheap 3 perfect reasons to go someplace on vacation. Scams are apart every vacation from aruba to zimbamwa we all know it, it is just to what level we will tolerate these scams. Finally not everyone who goes to Thailand is a Whoremonger or a thug. I would have no problem taking my child to Phuket or Bangkok, because i can easily avoid the “naughty” areas and still have a great time. The same can be said for Vegas or Reno.

  40. @CanadianBoy: Yeah, ran into a little scammer on Plenty of Fish the other night. Ended up with her back at my place and in the morning she showed me stretch marks on her belly from a previous pregnancy and told me that I had caused those last night during our romp. She said a good plastic surgeon would cost about 30,000 to fix them. I’m pretty sure I didn’t cause any stretch marks but she started saying she was going to call the cops so I just gave her 30,000 baht and she left.

    Next time I’m going to take photographs before so if she claims damages later I have photographic proof the damage existed before I rode her.

  41. @HH: Don’t worry, she didn’t pull a gun but I did get it all on video which is going to be part of my new television show Big Trouble in Expat Thailand.

    Other episodes will include:

    I uncover rampant corruption in the Thai police when I file a police report and they attempt to extort 50 baht from me for translating my English statement into Thai. It took me nearly 2 weeks to have friends and family wire me that kind of cash.

    Scam artists are everywhere when I go to a bar on Soi 11 and after four beers I’m presented with a bill of 100 baht. I call the waitress over and explain that this bill is for one beer but I only had four. Caught on camera she pretends it’s all some mistake and brings me back the proper bill for 400 baht.

    And possibly the most shocking revelation to ever hit televisions anywhere in the world, I order the Big Mango and order the Mango McMUFFin and it contains absolutely no Muff! False advertising if I’ve ever seen it.

    • bb – u r the first person to cry foul. it was only a matter of time

      we may change it to the mcduffer – in hopes that it offends all the idiots of the world

  42. Billy — Can I suggest another episode, this one that occurred to me no more then 30 minutes ago:

    * I pick up the phone and see an unknown number ringing me. I answer and with a connection that sounds like someonne talking in a Liverpool accent through 2 tin cans tied by string I get the Scouser equialent of the following:

    “Hey mate, I found your number on my girl’s phone. What the *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* kind of *bleep* *bleep* are you? This is MY girl so *bleep* ….

    Sir, you’ve reached a business and….

    *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*

    Sir, you have a wrong number, I’m sure…

    *bleep* *bleep*

    Hangup.

    Now, I suspect I know who the guy is, but “his girl” works the pole and sleeps with me about 3-4 nights a week when she doesn’t have a customer. But this guy is in for a week and gives her 50,000 to stay with him while he gets drunk and plays golf. But while he’s away, she comes over and shags me.

    I’m sure through al the *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* he’d tell me “she’s different.”

    True story.

    • pg – I think every has those. had a friend in england who was shagging hte “normal” girls who was plagued with phone calls for months

      too funny

  43. @PG: I don’t have the slightest bit of trouble believing the truth on that one. BTW, I *bleep* *bleep* should be *bleep* *bleep* finishing my game up around *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* so make sure you *bleep* *bleep* send her home by at least 5pm *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* so I can take her to a *bleep* *bleep* 5-star restaurant for *bleep* *bleep* dinner.

    Oh, *bleep* *bleep* she is different. *bleep* *bleep*

  44. @PG – Why was he saying *bleep*

    Surely words like fuck, cunt, wanker, prick, shithead etc would of been far more expressive

    I used to bareback a Shebas girl who used to get paid 12,000baht by some dull dunt from Coventry to whack off her on tits. He started texting me shit once. All a game

  45. YP — I’d have used the real words had I been able to understand him. You know these scousers. Can’t understand a damn thing they say.

    ssB — First time for me. Read about it many time, but still find it hysterical some guy renting a gogo girl wants to get so hot/bothered or even start a fight out of jealousy that some other guy is doing “his” girl.

    Waaaay off topic now, I realize. But Billy started it with all his Big Trouble in Expat Thailand.

    Episode 3 tonight. Get your downloaders ready.

  46. Well folks, the hits keep on coming….

    Camera director of ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’ makes ‘tactical withdrawal’

    A British producer cameraman has had to flee Thailand after filming a sequence in which British Royal Marines were held at gunpoint by Thai mafia after hiring a Jet Ski on a paradise beach.

    The cameraman Gavin Hill, 40, from Manchester, a former bureau chief for Associated Press Television, was today back in London, after fleeing Bangkok, as his Thai crew faced up to a year in jail.

    “I’ve made a tactitcal withdrawal and am in London to discuss how we can help our Thai colleagues. But yes, I did not wish to argue my case from prison. We filmed the mafia but suddenly we are the criminals apparently. The atmosphere is a little bit hysterical. The Marines are behind me thank God.”

    http://www.andrew-drummond.com/2009/09/21/camera-director-of-big-trouble-in-thailand-makes-tactical-withdrawal/

  47. Just watched episode 3, seemed a little watered down regarding Thai police antics compared with the first 2 episodes.
    See the BG go off her head and stalk the farang til he had to make a quick get away on a bike! She must have been desperate for cash.
    Ok, after reading a number of comments on this thread i agreed with much and completely disagreed with Sil.
    Thailand is a great place if you keep on the right side of the law/ attempt to stay safe/ legal.
    Go looking for trouble, get pissed up and make yourself vulnerable or show disrespect towards the Thais and you will find trouble.
    I often walk down the Sukhumvit late at night going back to my hotel or to a bar or Sazanka or my favourite Thai massage shop – and i feel safer than walking around late at night in London.

    I don’t know whether it’s because i have an idea of how some Thai cops can be that im not shocked by any of the episodes so far, or the fact that when i compare some of the behaviour of police in the UK towards the the public, i think any policeman/ woman in any country has the capacity to to be slap happy or over the top in how they treat someone they are detaining.

    I don’t think Thailand is coming off badly at all, so far all i can really see is just how fucking stupid some people really are when they visit another country.
    Drugs and/ or alcohol seem to be a common denominator in many of the scenes featured on the show, and i have seen some of this with my own eyes, and it usually always is when someone is pissed and cant hold their beer etc.
    Great series, makes me yearn to be back lol, looking forward to the next episode that covers the plane crash at Samui – lived there for 7 months, fantastic place.
    Now i can’t wait to get back there later this year.

    Great thread PG!

  48. @PG: Other than the mobile interrogation there’s also the guy who demands the Hotmail account password. I’ve gotten the random email/IM from some idiot who wants to know why my email addy or IM is in his gal’s book.

  49. As the man behind ‘Thai Cops’ aka ‘Big Trouble in Thailand’ I have a confession to make. Yes, after watching Episode 3 last night, I want to come clean before I’m rumbled. The ‘monkey’ cradled by Howard in last night’s show is in fact a radio-controlled model ‘flown’ by an assistant from the toys dept. of Central. It is a device known as a ‘monkbot’ and was created by Muppet Corp. at Pinewood Studios in England. It can actually hover for a few seconds, but only indoors. Likewise the iguana lizardy thingys which, as anyone can tell you, are never seen posing for photos in Patong or Pattaya’s Walking Street. To mock up these we used a rubberised ‘Robosapien’ cleverly disguised in latex to look like a reptile. I’m ashamed to say even the ladyboys were fake. Yep – the breasts, everything. Howard Miller is real though.

  50. Billy – yes, and already missing my Khao pad gai 🙁 Temperature is lower here, though. The remaining episodes are still in edit and I hope on broadcast of the final installment the Thai authorities will look favourably on the series, viewed in its entirety. I’m still optimistic we’ll be given the thumbs up for a second series, as it appears to be very popular judging by the viewing figures. I’m sure these will add up to bookings. And we’re already seeing positive results – the response to the jet ski issue, the arrest of an Australian man featured in Episode 3 etc. Please stay tuned for Episode 4 next Monday, and fingers crossed we’ll be back in production with the follow up series shortly.

  51. @ Gavin regarding that silly young girl who eventually got off with a fine for canabis possession?
    Her boyfriend (the gentleman he is not) seemed to just fuck off and leave her to it?
    I understand that they are reunited back in the UK and likely episode 4 shows this?
    Just curious if you got the behind the scenes thoughts from the girl, what she really thought of him after he left her hung out to dry to take the wrap for what seemed like his fault?
    I’m sure she must have felt seriously pissed off with him?
    I’m also surprised that her mother said that she didn’t blame him or feel anything bad untoward? What fuckin’ planet was she on?

  52. @eddie t….er…missed your dose of daytime soaps? Who fucking cares what she thinks? Or what happens to the cunts going “forwards”…carry on.

  53. Last night, despite my better judgement, that and being stood up by the French chic I’ve been er em, improving foreign relations with, I relented and watched this drivel.

    The moral of the story as I see it is:

    1) Don’t rent a jet ski. Why the squadies weren’t told that they would be ripped of by their so called boss who seemed to know all about it, a trumped up NCO, I don’t know. Smells of set up. The face to face argument seems staged.

    2) Don’t go anywhere near a full moon party, and don’t let your boyfriend hand you the incriminating evidence, and piss off scott free, and chuckle about it in your presence. And obviously don’t have the stuff in the first place. If you are thick enough that you don’t know it’s a bad idea to have it in Thailand then you shouldn’t be allowed to have a passport. That would make the place a lot nicer for the rest of us.

    3) Always carry enough folding to pay off any local official with Baht signs in his eyes.

    4) And for gods sake lock up the Australian moron and give us all some peace. I feel sorry for his dad.

    5) Don’t watch British reality TV. British reality is depressing enough, when it’s transported elsewhere it’s just down right terrifying. Did they really say 200+ Brits die in Thailand every year, WTF!

  54. With all the brouhaha, I decided to give the show a third chance. I was put off by the editing and narration on the first couple tries, and that criticism stands. But the footage itself is good work. This is a small sample of the transparency that Thailand needs to become a better place, as seen here:
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/24374/jet-ski-operators-ordered-to-buy-insurance
    I hope they cover the gem scam in a future episode. The same guy is in front of the same gate outside of Wat Phra Kaew every day, lying to every farang that walks by and pushing them into waiting tuk-tuks…

    • 7 – great points but the show is hardly about the real scams in thailand. I would be all for them going after the known scams. they should start with the police.

      🙂

  55. @ssB: I know that’s not what you said but even going after boiler rooms could have all sorts of unintended fallout. What if the guy running the operation is connected? Maybe he’s got a few cops in his pocket or maybe some local politician is getting a cut. Or maybe the guy is a sociopath. If I was his life insurance salesman I would be upping my rates 🙂

    • bb – what I am saying is no one should make any of these shows – not even the one that was made for the very reasons u mention.

      🙂

  56. Just received an e-mail from Gavin Hill wtih the preview of Episode 4. It may actually stand a chance of not pissing off the authorities:

    Bangkok Airways plane crashes into a control tower on Samui, killing the pilot and local Tourist Police Volunteers and British Consul respond. Brit passengers are injured, some tell of their miraculous escape. Programme contains never-before-seen video and photographs of the immediate aftermath and rescue effort.

    It’s Songkran in Chiang Mai and mayhem on the roads – we’re on the scene of another DUI incident involving backpackers on a motorbike – hurt, under the influence and no helmets. And we visit a motorbike ‘graveyard’ with Chiang Mai Tourist Police Volunteer Rob, from Manchester.

    We’re out on river patrol with the tooled up border police in Chiang Rai, looking for drug smugglers. And this week’s Thai jail inmate who gives us his account of life in the monkey house is Michael Connell from Manchester – he’s doing a lot of time for drugs in Bangkwang.

    And what would Big Trouble In Thailand be without Howard who finds himself in the middle of a punch up between a Thai man and a group of deaf tourists. DO NOT RESIST US!!

    And tourist Police Assistant Paul Harrison is also in this week’s programme, responding to a fire at an apartment block in Pattaya.

    Would you bet money on Thai Police giving two thumbs up to a second series?

    Not in Thailand you wouldn’t, of course – plenty of gamblers being nicked coming up later in the series!

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