Verano Azul: 40 years of “Blue Summer”

In Verano Azul Park, Nerja. / ON

40 years ago, one of the most successful Spanish television series of all time, Verano Azul, aired on La Primera Cadena de Televisión Española. In Nerja there are monuments, parks and streets dedicated to this TV show that even prompted some foreigners to settle on the Costa del Sol

Verano Azul was filmed in Nerja at the very beginning of the 80s and its production has become part of the collective memory of a whole generation of those who grew up in the resort. The main characters “came” to homes every Sunday from 1981 to 1982.

Verano Azul, ‘Dench’, ‘Hemingway’. / ON

Throughout the 19 episodes, a group of young people aged 8 to 16 meet two adults in Nerja with whom they share many new experiences, including the ethical values ​​of family relationships and the right to protest. The adult characters were the painter Julia and Chanquete, a wise and lovable retired sailor who lived in a boat on top of a hill. Incidentally, Chanquete’s character is thought to be loosely based on Santiago, the old fisherman from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. He died in 2000. María Garralón, who played the role of Julia, is often compared to the famous British actress Judi Dench and is still active in theater and cinema.

In Nerja there are monuments, parks and streets dedicated to Verano Azul

When Verano Azul first aired in 1982, it was a success with an estimated peak viewership of 20 million viewers out of a population of 38 million at the time. Since then it has been rebroadcast several times on different Spanish TV channels and even sold in many other countries. The TV series aired in Portugal and throughout South America as well as France and Angola. Moreover, Verano Azul managed to break through the iron curtain as the Spanish series aired in Eastern European countries – Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

A monument to Chanquete in Nerja. /

AMSAANDRES

The revolutionary series

For citizens of socialist countries, Verano Azul was revolutionary. Some of the most serious problems associated with adolescence had never been mentioned under the socialist regime. Key topics such as hippie philosophy, parental divorce, and the death of a close friend were highly unusual.

It seems that Verano Azul was particularly popular with Bulgarian children. It is believed that the children’s initiative resulted in naming one of the streets in Sofia after the series – ‘Синьо лято’ (‘Blue Summer’). Anton from Bratislava, who lives in Nerja, remembers that for him, Verano Azul had become something of a fairy tale. “Slovakia is located in the very center of the continent and has no sea. At that time, we couldn’t afford a beach vacation. When I first saw Verano Azul I thought it was amazing. I guess that impression of my childhood haunted me and in the end I came to the place where all the adventures happened. I have now lived on the Costa del Sol for seven years,” said Anton.

Thérèse from Norway was able to observe the filming of Verano Azul. She spent her school holidays with her parents in Almuñecar. Thérèse remembers them filming the series which was also filmed in Motril and Almuñecar on the neighboring Costa Tropical. Shel even managed to get involved as an extra. When Thérèse grew older and had enough money, she bought a small house in Nerja and fondly remembers this period of her childhood.

Many memories are recalled in Nerja today through the ‘Verano Azul’ museum-park, where the famous Chanquete boat (a replica made by the Tourist Board) has been placed as a monument. A statue of ‘Chanquete’ himself overlooking Calahonda beach has been erected next to the Balcon de Europa Nerja. Additionally, there are streets in Nerja named after each of the series’ main characters and cast members.

‘Verano Azul’ is not ‘Blue Summer’

Verano Azul means Blue Summer, and some sources therefore translate this Spanish series as “Blue Summer”. However, this may confuse English speakers who watched an American film of the same name many years ago. This film by Chuck Vincent (writer and director) was made in 1973 and was also about teenage vacations, but revolves around two “guys” who pack up a van, The Meat Truck, fill it with beer and drive away on a road trip in search of sexual adventures. Boston-born Trevor recalls Blue Summer: “In the early ’70s, free love and driving under the influence were all the rage. At the end of the 1970s, Spain, freed from the conservatism of the Franco regime, was heavily exposed to sexual imagery, which until then had been considered taboo.

Verano Azul managed to be a romantic story, quite different from the cynical American version Blue Summer

However, Verano Azul managed to be a romantic story, quite different from the cynical American version. The good thing is that the main characters in Blue Summer’s ending have realized that the freedom of the open road isn’t all it’s made out to be. I would suspect that the moody American sex comedy is already forgotten and Verano Azul is still remembered, and I’m sure it will remain a mainstay of Nerja’s tourist attraction,” adds Trevor.