Following the success of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, writer David Nobbs decided that he would like to attempt something completely different with his next project. Whereas his hit show was based around one man and his worklife in London, Nobbs felt that the next series that he worked on should focus on a group and their social lives and be set in an unusual location. When Jimmy Gilbert suggested to the writer that he ought to write about British residents abroad, this seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
Nobbs had already visited Spain and the British exiles who he had met gave him much inspiration. They formed the basis for the characters in The Sun Trap and their bipolar attitudes towards both Britain and Spain became a focal point of the series.
Location filming took place in Nerja, Spain in December 1979 and studio filming took place the following year. Unusually, the first episodes were transmitted whilst filming was still taking place, and this allowed cast and crew members to gauge public reactions. Sadly the dismal viewing figures and poor critical reaction which the show received meant that filming on the final episodes concluded with morale severely damaged.
Nobbs has since stated that he believes that the reason the show fared so poorly was due to the fact that viewers could not associate themselves with the characters or their situation. Although every effort had been made to ensure accuracy, it would only be exiles themselves who could have appreciated the setup - but obviously this group were not watching British television.
The Sun Trap is now largely forgotten and this was evident in the 1990s as the BBC repeated their folly by commissioning the soap opera Eldorado. This again featured expatriates and was an unmitigated disaster, showing that no lessons had been learnt by the corporation.