Benidorm returned last week for an eighth series, but there was a certain family missing... the Malbtys!
But luckily this week they’re back and for the first time in Benidorm history, the three of them, Noreen (Elsie Kelly), Pauline (Selina Griffiths) and The Oracle (Johnny Vegas) have come on holiday together, to enjoy the delights of the Solana resort.
Unfortunately, when I flew out to Benidorm Johnny Vegas wasn’t out there, but ever the gent he agreed to speak to me back in the UK, and you’ll be able to read my chat with him very soon!
Although he was missed, I did manage to have a lovely chat with Elsie Kelly and Selina Griffiths, aka Noreen and Pauline in the Solana reception area. Here’s what they had to say...
Selina, how does it feel coming back to Benidorm again?
Selina: Great! It's lovely to come back to the job, I mean the job itself to begin with, took me a while to get used to. The crew was different, and old cast members had gone so there were new cast members who had joined.
Also, the last time I was out her it was August to November, and this time we start in March which didn't feel right. It was all sunny! But you soon settle into it, it's great to be back.
It's safe to say that Pauline had her fair share of problems. Has she changed a lot?
Selina: Yes she did, and they're rearing their ugly heads again. Not much has changed. She arrives and as far as she's concerned she's sober, and has been for quite some time. But then of course, episode 4 arrives and she spectacularly falls off the wagon!
There's a catastrophic misunderstanding with Jodie (Honor Kneafsey) which is just comedy gold really. It's just a brilliant idea. And she was so wonderful. She was fantastic.
Does she still have the South African accent?
Selina: No. That's been abandoned, so she speaks in my accent, and then a somewhat weird voice when she gets drunk!
Elsie: She's brilliant at it. Absolutely brilliant.
I was going to ask you, what's it like having Pauline back and now alongside Geoff?
Elsie: Oh it's wonderful. Wonderful. She's such a good actress! I say it to everybody all the time.
Yes, both my children... and you know what kids are like! She's immensely proud of them them. When the cards are down, they stay together and more importantly, look after Pauline when she goes off the rails a little bit.
We were saying earlier, Derren is such a good writer, that amidst all the comedy, there's suddenly a lovely tender moment, or a bit of pathos.
Like the scene in the lift between Noreen and Geoff which was just brilliant...
Elsie: Oh yes... that was here. They built a lift. It took about eleven hours! But thank you, it was just in the writing.
Normally we shoot one scene from all different angles, and we had six or seven to do but instead of doing that, they went through once, then twice, then three... They even built a bridge over the lift so that they could shoot down. It was amazing!
It was just so marvellous to have those lines to deliver, but stay in their complete shell, which I hope we did. I know Johnny certainly did. He was very very good to play with, as is Selina. I'm just so lucky.
Is Geoff still trying to pass you off as his PA?
Elsie: The last line he said at the end of the last series "She's not my PA. She's my mother", so that's changed a little bit. But not really. He's still unbelievably flabbergasted at her stupidity, and doesn't hesitate to say so. Within the script.
I did wonder, now that we've had this very tender thing, how's the relationship going to change? But it hasn't really. At the middle of it all she still blunders about and he still gets annoyed... and so does she! (Laughs)
What's the dynamic like between Pauline and Geoff?
Selina: A bit like my brother and I were when we were little. It's the same dynamics as kids. Just at each other's throat's all the time. Bickering, bickering, bickering.
He's very tolerant up to a point, considering what she's put them through, but they are just a couple of kids. Sniping all the time.
Pauline hated it in Benidorm last time, so why has she come back?
Selina: Well, she's been dry for a bit and keeps reminding them that having been dry she's been saving money and has paid for their holiday, so she's here because she's paid for the holiday. So she can rub their noses in it.
Do you still enjoy doing out to Benidorm?
Elsie: This time I've asked for a bit less time out here to do other things, and being older it isn't easy to be fourteen weeks on location. I do a bit of directing of musicals, so it's a bit tiring, but it's lovely to keep this up.
Benidorm is like a second home, and they're all like a second family. The crew, actors, we're all mixed up together and everyone is very caring of each other. It's really nice to know everybody so well.
Well, you're one of the Benidorm originals aren't you?
Elsie: Yes, I was booked to die at the end of the first series. I thought it was a marvellous ending, I really did. In the first series she used to do a lot of floating about on a lilo, and on the script she popped her clogs the day before and was still going on the lilo! I thought it was wonderful and a brilliant idea.
Joan Collins is back?
Elsie: Yes, I couldn't believe it when they gave me a line last time with Joan Collins! She owns the hotel, and I asked her "Are you booking in? My son's away today and I was wondering if you'd like a game of tiddlywinks?" or whatever it was! She replied no and I said "Oh I thought not". She was very nice.
The Garvey's aren't back, but you did get to work with Steve Pemberton in Inside No. 9.
Elsie: I was so worried, because it was such a similar character to Noreen. You really are a bit trapped in that, but her was really happy with how it turned out. He said it was very different, but I don't know how different it really was.
It was very good fun to film that. It's wonderful. Rave reviews! All of the papers really really going mad about it. It's only half an hour but it's packed, and there's always this twist.