Gossiping, shown on a fresco at the Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral, has been a popular Blacktip Island pastime for centuries. A televised reality series will focus on the island’s gossip mongers this spring.
Blacktip Island residents will be the subjects of a new reality television show premiering Saturday on the Hallmark Channel.
The show’s producer said the idea for the show came to her during a recent holiday on the small Caribbean island.
“I’d be at the bar after a day of diving, and all the locals wanted to do was dish dirt behind each others’ backs,” executive producer Catalina Luxfer said. “You can’t make this stuff up. We tried. It was nowhere near as entertaining as real-life Blacktip Island. The show writes itself.”
Luxfer said the island’s unique population keeps production costs at a minimum.
“We don’t have to coach the actors or provide scripts,” Luxfer said. “Our only staff’s a couple of camera people. Well, and a stable of editors to censor all the obscenity and profanity. We’re definitely editor heavy on this one.”
The show is titled “Well, I Heard,” after the most-commonly used phrase during early filming.
The inaugural episode centers on the fallout from Eagle Ray Cove managers Mickey and Kitty Smarr’s marital dysfunction.
“They’re quite keen about showing Kitty sleeping around behind Mickey’s back. Again,” said Eagle Ray Cove divemaster Lee Helm. “That’s old news, but I reckon the viewers don’t know that.”
Other locals say later episodes will draw a larger audience.
“It’ll be way better when they zoom in on dive staff,” said Alison Diesel, also an Eagle Ray Cove divemaster. “You know how it is on this little rock. You sneeze down at the Ballyhoo, someone’ll say, ‘Bless you’ up at the Tailspinner before you can wipe your nose.”
Not all Blacktip residents are happy with the notoriety the show has brought.
“This makes us all seem mean spirited,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “Only some of us are that way. Some of the time. I mean, sure, people stir the fecal matter, but Blacktip’s a small island. That’s just how people here interact.”
Blacktip Island’s Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, praised the show’s effect on local businesses.
“They say overnight stays are up 23 percent from this time last year,” chamber president Sandy Bottoms said. “So are dive bookings, souvenir sales and bar tabs.
“That feeds on itself,” Bottoms said. “We give away free drinks when we hears they’ll be filming at our resort. The more booze people drink, the better the show is, the more tourists come down. Or so I’ve heard.”