Michaella McCollum of the ‘Peru Two’: ‘That’s me, owner of the world’s most infamous up-do’

TV review: ‘High – Confessions of an Ibiza Drugs Mule’ is always colourful, never forensic

Michaela McCollum is escorted out of the Callao prosecutors’ building in Lima, Peru, on August 20th, 2013, to be taken to a district court. File photograph: Getty

Michaela McCollum is escorted out of the Callao prosecutors’ building in Lima, Peru, on August 20th, 2013, to be taken to a district court. File photograph: Getty

 

“That’s me…owner of the world’s most infamous up-do,” says Michaella McCollum early in High – Confessions of an Ibiza Drugs Mule (BBC One, Monday).

She of course refers to the huge hair-bun that was plastered all over the tabloids when McCollum, then 19, was arrested, along with Melissa Reid from Scotland, for trying to smuggle 11 kilos of cocaine out of Peru in 2013.

High reveals how McCollum, from sleepy Co Tyrone (“shooting and sheep - pure s*** right?”), ended up in a South American prison at the end of a summer of partying in Ibiza. Yet it does so in a deeply idiosyncratic fashion that may land awkwardly with viewers hoping for a more straightforward documentary .

McCollum narrates her own story while an actor portrays her in dramatic recreations. The five-part series also comes with the pretty whopping disclaimer that “only some of the facts could be verified”.

Events are relayed almost entirely from McCollum’s perspective. And in a style that suggests a clunking Trainspotting pastiche, with zinging montages and a blaring soundtrack featuring Prodigy and Orbital. And with endless shots of the actress playing McCollum off her face in various Ibiza nightclubs.

Michaella McCollum entering the Sarita Colonia jail in 2013. Photograph: EPA/Paolo Aguilar
Michaella McCollum entering the Sarita Colonia jail in 2013. Photograph: EPA/Paolo Aguilar

Still, there are a few bombshells. McCollum was offered a whopping £5000 to become a drugs mule. Initially, moreover, she was lured by the promise that all she would have to do was collect a package in Barcelona.

The plan was abruptly changed to Lima, which she assumed was somewhere in Spain. The penny dropped only when she got on the plane and clocked the flight was to cross the Atlantic. “I didn’t ask where Lima was,” she says. “I didn’t want to come across as stupid.”

It’s hard to see what High wishes to be other than zippy viewing. McCollum, to her credit, doesn’t try to rehabilitate herself. She admits she “f**ked up her life” by falling in with cocaine traffickers.

But nor does the series condemn her for becoming entangled in the drugs business (she received a six year sentence, of which she served three). Instead, it unfolds as a jumpy, colour-saturated true-crime caper. High is never less than watchable and McCollum clearly doesn’t object to all the attention. Anyone hoping for a forensic chronicling of the case will, however, have to look elsewhere.

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