Prepare for plenty more sun, sand and sangria as ITV sitcom Benidorm celebrates its 10th birthday with another season at the Solana hotel. Back with more hilarity, Wigan-based star Sherrie Hewson tells Wigan Today of the show’s magic.
BENIDORM IS TEN YEARS OLD! WHAT’S THE SECRET TO ITS SUCCESS?
Not many sitcoms last that long, but it is to do with Derren Litten, who writes brilliantly and who writes new characters. That’s why – because it keeps evolving all the time with new people coming in. It doesn’t stagnate, it doesn’t stay still for two minutes. He’s a very, very clever man.
IT DOES SEEM TO HAVE A MAGIC ABOUT IT.
I always say it’s like a soap: you don’t have to like a character to watch them. You can hate somebody or dislike somebody, like Johnny Briggs on Coronation Street. Everybody hated him and they couldn’t wait to see him again. And that should be the same with all shows.
EPISODE ONE SEES YOUR CHARACTER JOYCE WED MONTY (JOHN CHALLIS). DESPITE THE DRAMAS, IS IT FAIR TO SAY THERE’S LOVE THERE?
Yes, he loves her! I think she likes the companionship, but he annoys her, because he gets it wrong. He’s a wheeler dealer and she doesn’t like that.
But then there is a scene where Michael Fenton Stevens, who plays Sir Henry, comes and comforts her and he [Monty] walks in and thinks that she’s gone to him now and he hits Michael Fenton Stevens! Joyce bursts into tears because she doesn’t want to lose him. I don’t know why.
YOU HAD AN EXTRA-SPECIAL WEDDING GUEST IN THE SHAPE OF TONY HADLEY, TOO?
Yes. I said to Tony at the time, ‘Oh you can actually do it [act]’. He said, ‘Can I? I wondered if I could act’ and I said ‘You ought to get into it if that’s what you want to do’. And then he immediately left Spandau [Ballet, his band]!
He’s gorgeous, you fall in love with him anyway, because he is the most gorgeous huggy-bear man.
DOES THE CELEBRATION BRING PLENTY OF LAUGH-OUT-LOUD MOMENTS?
My favourite bit is when Lesley walks in, in that stupid blancmange wedding dress. Even on set it was a glorious moment. It was just the funniest thing.
But the second episode is funny, because we come back from the wedding and I can’t tell you more ... I’d have to kill you.
DO YOU STRUGGLE TO KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE IN SUCH SCENES?
Well, that day we did, because that’s an extreme situation. But mostly we can’t [laugh]. We have 14-hour days; we’re sometimes filming in 40-degree sun and you are very tired and very hot, so really we have to get on with it and get it done, otherwise you’re wasting somebody else’s time who is waiting to do the next scene.
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CAMEO IN THE SERIES?
Lorraine [Kelly] wants to do it, she would be great! I think Judi Dench would be great, because she’s very funny and she really loves a laugh, and she loves to be silly. She’d do karaoke, you know. She’s a very, very funny woman. I also want Larry Lamb to be in it.
IS IT TRUE THE CAST HAS TO HAVE SECURITY NOW, WHEN WALKING IN THE RESORT?
It’s a bit grabby but it doesn’t worry me. The only reason we have security is because we have to get from one place to another quickly. If we stopped for autographs, we’d be there hours and hours and hours. Once you stop for one selfie, it’s literally hundreds. But we’re Benidorm in Benidorm. We don’t have security because we’re grand actors.
YOU MUST HAVE BECOME FOND OF THE RESORT, YOURSELF?
Yes. I get very annoyed with people that say ‘Urgh Benidorm!’. The English quarter is what it is – you don’t go there.
But Benidorm’s scenery is so beautiful. It has the most sexually undulating mountains you’ve ever seen in your life.
When you stand at the Old Town, at the piazza, and you look right over Benidorm, it is honestly beautiful. And the beach is one of the best in the world.
It’s man-made – the sand was all brought in from the Sahara.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FOR JOYCE IN THE FUTURE?
I think Monty and Joyce can go on, but I don’t think it would be a smooth ride. I always think [of her] as a BOAC, when there were posh stewardesses on the planes.
I also think she was probably an entertainment manager on a ship, like the QE2 or something – and then she ended up at the Solana.
At one point she was told to get a fourth star at the Solana and she did – and then Joan [Collins] came along and said, ‘No, we’re not steak and chips, we’re egg and chips. Take that star
down!’ And she ripped my star down.
Benidorm is back for a tenth series starting on ITV on Wednesday, February 28.