Last summer, I paid my second visit to the set of hit ITV comedy Benidorm and spoke to the show’s wonderful cast including Sherrie Hewson and Jake Canuso.
On a day off from filming, Sherrie and Jake joined me and a group of journalists poolside at the Solana for a chat about the ninth series of Benidorm.
Does series nine bring romance for Solana manageress Joyce Temple Savage? And how does Mateo get on with the new arrivals? Here’s what they both had to say…
Can you believe this is series nine of Benidorm?
Jake Canuso: I’m the only one who has done every single episode. I know you hear it every year but it really is a unique job. The writing is brilliant the characters are brilliant but it really is a huge family. All of us are in it, no egos, the crew always want to come back. It’s very rare these days to have a job like this.
When I first started out you got called on a film and you’d be there maybe two months now they just bring you in for the few days and push all your scenes together so there isn’t that kind of company feeling. A lot of people say its the only TV job where they felt part of the team.
Everybody’s really supportive, they want to do a good job and you get excited when new actors arrive.
Sherrie Hewson: And also we’re all away from home so we all need each other so everybody cares…
JC: We look out for each other. We organise dinners or a bingo night where we let all the crew go, the pool days are the most fun as all the crew are here and we finish filming our scenes and we have a social time. It’s so rare these days that you want to hang on to that.
It’s a very unpretentious place, the first time here I was like, I’m not doing this. Actually it’s not like that at all, it’s a family place. It’s ab enormous place. The Spanish have been coming here for years, since the sixties. Being in London, you have to be part of a clique etc. – it’s exhausting. Here, you do Karaoke and it’s like, yeah! You see that everyone has an amazing time.
Joyce takes a break this series, what does she get up to?
SH: She goes to Barcelona. She’s sent to Barcelona because Crystal Hennessy-Vass doesn’t want to go but Joyce thinks she’s been invited with Crystal to go to a conference which is quite a big thing for Joyce. Then she finds out the Crystal can’t be arsed actually so she’s going to have to go and she’s got five pages, in Spanish, to read.
She can’t speak Spanish so she gets Mateo involved and it becomes disastrous so it’s funny. When she comes back it all kicks off again!
She leaves Sir Henry in charge. What’s he like?
SH: Well I don’t think she thinks he’s much cop at anything really, and he buggers off early when he’s supposed to be there. So she has to come back early because he’s just gone, but she thinks all men are pretty useless anyway.
JC: Hilarious. He’s a great character to bring in as he’s so happy and jolly and just doesn’t get any of it. Everything just goes on over his head. He so goes against everything, he’s so posh and so upbeat and positive.
There’s a scene where does Karaoke and he does Cindi Lauper, Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And it’s brilliant. The hotel just turns into chaos. There is a line where Mateo says, that actually, in comparison to King Henry, Miss Temple-Savage isn’t such a bad manager after all!
Speaking of men, any romance on the cards for Joyce this series?
SH: Not really no, I mean John Challis is coming back but I think she finds that she’s a bit of a victim, Joyce. Maybe she’d like to be in love again but she’s very much her own person.
It’s like me, I’ve lived on my own since 2001. It’s very difficult to let somebody in your life or in your loo again! That’s my opinion and I’m sure it’s Joyce’s too. Anyone who answers back or has an opinion, in your house, is probably not welcome. I think she likes Monty so we’ll see what happens.
Does Joyce come into much contact with Loretta?
SH: I haven’t really had anything to do with Loretta but there is a scene where Monty talks to her and it looks like he is coming on to her. So when Monty comes to Joyce saying “I’ve known you for a long time”, Loretta comes in and goes “Don’t listen to him”.
So she really scuppers it so Joyce goes mad. Then Joyce thinks he’s trying to get with Loretta. So I don’t think she likes her much, she thinks she’s very common. But Joyce understands that as Crystal pointed out to her when she got her four stars taken back to three stars, this is not that hotel – this is egg and chips, it’s not caviar.
Joyce gets that she has to put up with someone like Loretta. It’s the same with Eddie. Every time he’s spoken to her she’s just gone “Urgh!” There was one point where Eddie was flirting! Not in a million years! I think there was one point where she was like “Don’t touch me!” But she understands they pay money to be here, and they buy rooms.
Shelley’s back. What’s her and Mateo’s relationship like now?
JC: Nobody gets on with her she’s a bitch. Mateo and Sam have past history where she thought she was having a little do with Mateo. He dislikes her because she uncovered the whole three kids, Miguel thing, all of that. So the first few episodes are very much about their dislike of each other and she kind of has one over him because she’s sort of detached from the hotel.
She tries to get Joyce into the shit as when Mateo uncovers that she’s scamming, she kind of says well she’s in it with me, what are you going to do? It’s a really good relationship to bring back to kind of give it that kind of dynamic and that antagonistic relationship. It’s just bicker, bicker, bicker. The minute she turns up the eyebrows just go up.
She is just getting in the way of everything. I still think Sam is just dying to have a go! I really do, there’s that whole personality I’m sure there’s some underlying chemistry there. Athough he is incredibly rude to her. She is rude to him. Something about Thunder Thighs!
The other thing is, she talks about throwing something and Mateo says “The only thing you’d want to do with you is throw you off the roof!” He’s so cruel and vile. They are both incredibly thick skinned, his ego is huge. He loves himself so much that you can throw anything at him.
I don’t know how many times he gets called “old and leathery skin”. Its like water and oil, whatever! The same with her, he just insults her.
Does Mateo get on with Neville?
JC: Very well, yeah. It’s a really nice relationship for once it’s the opposite of what happens with Sam. Mateo’s never really had a relationship like it. Slowly with Lesley, kind of, but there’s always been that, “What are you doing here? This is my turf. I know what I’m doing.”
The same with Joyce. There’s constant arguing. But Neville turns up and hes instantly, he’s very calm.
What’s Loretta like?
JC: Loretta has got her eye on Mateo. Oh I love Loretta, but it never kind of registers for him really.
SH: But she’s also had a little go with Tiger. Kind of. When Tiger was pissed though and Tiger was quite shocked to say the least!
JC: She’s a great character to have, she just throws that whole family up, the dynamics. Her and Eddie’s relationship the one-liners are just genius. It’s a great sort of banter. The dialogue that was slightly missing with the Dawsons, you need that one more family member that kind of throws it. Theres a rhythm in their scenes that’s painful at times.
SH: She’s a catalyst for everything because now, Eddie is there, you know the sparks will fly as soon as she’s there.
JC: When you have somebody that was elderly, he was kind of the only one so he was tolerated. Now you’ve got her that’s come in, she just won’t take no shit. So all of his bossing people about and all that she pulls him up, she hits him where it hurts.
It’s great comedy writing. One favourite scene is in episode eight, the one when his friend dies. It’s just a brilliant scene.
What guest stars do you have this series?
JC: We’ve got Uri Geller and Amanda Barrie and I had scenes with both of them this year. Amanda’s such a brilliant brilliant character. A Wonderful girl, so colourful. So naughty! Uri Geller was really good fun, he’s kind of floating. He has a certain air about him and I like that about stars as such, you don’t want to be disappointing.
I’m one of those people who will corpse at anything, I literally can’t stop myself laughing once I start. And she’s really bad, she’ll encourage it.
SH: She gets her words completely the wrong way round and can never remember names. She’s very dyslexic so she learns it in a blind way. In life she gets it the wrong way round as well!
JC: Mark Heap comes in as Malcom and he’s brilliant, people come in and want to stay longer. Usually people are eager to get home but not here.
SH: John Challis last year, we were doing scenes and then we had days off, he said is it ok if I don’t go home? We were like, Shouldnt you call your wife? He wanted to stay and…be a part of it.
Anything with Nigel Havers?
JC: No, nothing.
SH: I think it was only Tony (Maudsley) wasn’t it?
JC: Yeah, something to do with the salon.
SH: I worked with Nigel years ago on a Churchill thing and he’s a funny thing. I would have liked to see him. He is fun. Terribly posh. We miss Adam. Just awful.
What about Joan Collins?
SH: Joan’s on Skype with me that’s all I know. We have a good time. She’s a very special person. She loves it and Percy her husband is great – everyone needs a Percy.
JC: She has a very good sense of humour and she laughs about herself she doesn’t take herself seriously. It’s a strange comparison to make but when I used to work with Victoria Beckham and the Spice Girls Victoria Beckham when you see her you think she takes herself really seriously but actually she has the most self deprecating humour, she’s so witty and so funny, it’s the same with Joan. That element she brings along with all that Hollywood baggage.
SH: But she is Hollywood, the last of the studio divas and she comes ready. Hair make up clothes and stays ready. Unlike us, she stays like that and goes to her hotel like that.
JC: There’s something wonderful about that. It’s kind of old school. I met Sophia Loren once and it’s a horrible thing to say but I wouldn’t have liked to see her not being Sophia Loren. That is what they do.
SH: Joan’s probably the only one left but she’s fantastic. She had that scene with Jonny Vegas in the bedroom and she thought it was hysterical. Fantastic humour.
Benidorm returns Wednesday 1st March at 9pm on ITV