by Vaughan Willmore
Jasmine Harman, presenter of Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun, tells of her life in the Algarve and offers her ‘top tips’ when buying property abroad in an exclusive interview.
Is there anyone who hasn’t watched A Place in the Sun and especially enjoyed those episodes filmed in the Algarve?
It’s a programme that, along with its many spin-offs, has dominated British TV screens for over 20 years and it is Jasmine Harman who has fronted more shows than any other presenter, and whose love for the Algarve shines through in every programme she presents from these shores.
Jasmine moved to Almancil in 2000 to work as the marketing manager for a luxury golf and health club. It was the perfect job in many ways, as it combined Jasmine’s outgoing personality with her love of health and leisure – she is a qualified fitness instructor. Jasmine was in her twenties at the time, knew no one here, couldn’t speak the language and yet was undaunted by the challenge.
As Jasmine said, moving to Portugal was “life-changing and a real eye-opener”. She soon fell in love with the Algarve, the weather, the people and the opportunities available. While she doesn’t own a property here, she still describes it as her “home from home”.
Jasmine shared an amusing story from before she arrived here, when she confessed to a potential Portuguese employer “I can’t even speak Spanish”, completely unaware Portugal had its own distinct language. That all changed when she arrived here and fell in love with the culture and language; she became fluent in Portuguese, although she says she’s a little rusty now.
Alongside her job in health and leisure, Jasmine worked for three years at KISS FM Algarve. She recalled going into her first broadcast with little more than a playlist and adverts to announce and encouraged to “give it a go”. I suspect this was an indication of how much confidence KISS FM had in her abilities. Presenting twice-weekly shows gave Jasmine the opportunity to develop her broadcasting skills.
It was while living on the Algarve that Jasmine decided to branch out into a new career as a television presenter and, despite having no contacts or experience, she threw herself in at the deep end. Instead of relying on a more traditional type of application, Jasmine called in friends and business acquaintances to help her develop a ‘pilot’ show of her presenting a travel programme from the Algarve. It was an innovative approach, typical of Jasmine’s admirable ability to think outside the box and create her own opportunities.
It was the move to TV that changed Jasmine’s life, opening up other presenting opportunities and meeting her husband Jon, a cameraman on the show, and now father to her two young children.
Jasmine fronted her first A Place in the Sun show in 2004 from the Alentejo, making full use of her well-developed language skills. She has since gone on to present more than 350 programmes, many of them from Portugal. As she told me, “Whenever there’s a chance to return to Portugal, mine is the first hand to go up!”
She recounted a particularly nauseating moment in her early days on the show. She was being filmed milking a cow in the Algarve, who decided to do a number two. Jon (her cameraman) encouraged her to “keep going” as the rear end of the cow wasn’t in view. This would have been OK in itself, except when doing its number two, the cow swished its tail and … well, you can probably guess the rest.
On the show, Jasmine enjoys, more than anything else, helping people who’ve had problems in life – perhaps a health scare or a bereavement – to realise their dream of a new life abroad. She always encourages people to travel and live abroad at some point in their lives and will do the same with her own children, as she believes it is such a life-enhancing experience to enjoy other ways of living.
As for buying property, Jasmine advises people to do their research and be clear about their essential requirements, while at the same time being flexible. “Be open-minded,” she advises, “What you think you want may not actually be what you want.” She has often shown people properties that were different to what they were looking for, but they fell in love with them nevertheless.
Jasmine suggests considering whether you want to live a Portuguese way of life or settle in a more expat-orientated community, and whether such things as a sea view or an extra bedroom are really that important. She believes the Portuguese property market “could be challenging for a while, but is likely to pick up again”.
Jasmine’s other very sensible advice is, “To take professional advice regarding residency, particularly in this post-Brexit world; get good legal representation; and make sure you have all the permissions you need, especially if you’re looking to renovate or extend a property.”
There’s plenty of free property advice on the official website of www.aplaceinthesun.com.
In her spare time, Jasmine enjoys fitness classes, including dance and boxing. She’s passionate about health and well-being, becoming vegetarian nearly 40 years ago and vegan in 2014. She has supported many charities and is passionate about helping people who are susceptible to hoarding disorder, a recognised mental health issue.
In 2011, Jasmine fronted a BBC1 documentary, My Hoarder Mum and Me, where she and her siblings tried to help their mum. As Jasmine said, “When mum bravely agreed to appear on TV, thousands of people reached out to me, and all of a sudden, we were no longer alone.” She subsequently set up a website at helpforhoarders.co.uk offering advice to people prone to hoarding and allowing people the opportunity to donate, so the trust can help even more people.
It was a real pleasure to interview Jasmine, who was extremely generous with her time and whose warmth, sense of fun, and love of the Algarve was truly infectious.
A Place in the Sun returned to British TV screens Tuesday 4th May with six episodes, the first of which was filmed in Alvor (www.aplaceinthesun.com/tv-show/original/2021/alvor-portugal-ben-hillman).
Top Tips when Buying Property Abroad
Do your research.
Be clear about your essential requirements while at the same time, being open minded.
Consider what type of life you want to lead – city or countryside?
Take professional advice regarding residency.
Get good legal representation.
Make sure you have all the permissions you need, especially if you’re looking to renovate or extend a property.
Check out the extensive advice available on the official website.
Help for hoarders website: