Doppelgängers in Andalucía: Robert de Niro’s waiting… in Ronda?

Doppelgängers in Andalucía: Robert de Niro’s waiting… in Ronda?

You’ve probably all heard the rather wacky theory that John F Kennedy, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Princess Diana et al aren’t dead at all and are living on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Well, Paul Whitelock thinks that Andalucía is also a hiding place for the rich and famous…

WE’VE all heard these theories about JFK, Elvis, Princess Diana and the rest and we probably dismiss them as rather crazy. However, I can vouch for the fact that a number of doppelgänger and lookalikes are alive and well and living here in the Serranía de Ronda.

I first noticed back in 2001 that Leonid Brezhnev, the late Russian president, was living in the small village of Montejaque. He still does, and remarkably, has learned to speak fluent Spanish.

A couple of years later I noticed that Robert De Niro spends a lot of time in the Barrio San Francisco in Ronda. His Spanish is pretty good too!

Around that time a dead-ringer for World Champion snooker player Dennis Taylor was sitting across from us on our easyJet flight from Liverpool to Málaga. Nope! He turned out to be the real thing!

In 2005 I went to a modern flamenco concert in the Palacio Mondragón in Ronda to find that Lech Walesa, erstwhile president of Poland (1990-1995), was on flute, Garth Crooks, former Spurs footballer and now BBC football reporter, was playing bass guitar, and the drummer was Ray French, the rugby league commentator and former player. I knew Ray, for he was an English teacher in St Helens, Merseyside, where I used to work. Funny thing, however, when I approached Ray in the interval he didn’t recognise me and had lost the ability to speak English!

Lech was definitely the star, though, as he also demonstrated his abilities on guitar and saxophone, as well as playing the flute.

Who was that in the queue behind me at Málaga airport in 2008? A Rick Wakeman lookalike. Whoops! No, it actually was him. Rick was the keyboard player in the progrock group Yes! back in the 1970s.

In 2009 we came across a guy cooking a massive paella in the village of Benaoján. Funny – he looked just like Jamie Oliver – well, that’s cos he was!

Claire Conway or Cheryl Cole?

Cheryl Cole has been living and working in Ronda for years, though she calls herself Claire Conway for some reason.

It’s a while since I’ve seen anyone else famous, dead or alive, down here in Andalucía, although I see Leonid and Robert from time to time to pass the time of day. It must be the recession keeping others away – or COVID-19.

Just after lockdown was eased and people were allowed to fly into Spain again, Brian Moore, the former England Rugby Union prop and now commentator, turned up at the hotel next to our house, speaking in a Huddersfield accent and, blimey ol’ Riley, Arthur Askey was spotted in a village near here. Strange, I thought he was dead!

And you’ll never guess who really runs the Secret Serranía website – none other than Phil Spencer from Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location!

¡El mundo es un pañuelo! Small world!

Property experts Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer of Channel 4’s primetime programme ‘Location, Location, Location’

Paul Whitelock

About Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.