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I TALK TO Jack Canuso, Tim Healy & Jessica Ellerby

Benidorm regulars Mateo and Les/Lesley are back working at the Solana and this year there’s a new girl behind the bar, Amber.

We first meet Amber, played by Jessica Ellerby, in the first episode when Joyce is interviewing for new staff members to help an overworked and underpaid Les/Lesley. On paper she has all the qualifications and seems perfect, but will she let something, or should I say someone get in her way?

When I visited the set of Benidorm last Summer I was fortunate enough to chat to Benidorm original Jake Canuso, the brilliant Tim Healy and new girl Jessica Ellerby. Here’s what they had to say...

First of all, welcome Jessica. What can you tell us about Amber?

Jessica: She’s really lovely, she’s a really nice down to earth girl but she’s not stupid. I think that’s the whole point, that maybe she looks like it on the surface, but she doesn’t take any nonsense. She’s very used to working in bars.

Any romance between Amber and Mateo?

Jessica: Well I mean... shot down immediately. It’s not even an option. I think he lost his touch in Madrid!

Jake: She’s not having it. I think he lost it a long time ago! It ain’t gonna happen.

Jessica: Amber is very fond of Mateo, she thinks he’s an idiot and that’s why it would never happen between them. She’s much more interested in brains and heart than ripped abs! Doing her job I think she’s got to have a lot of patience. She knows exactly how to play him.

What about the two boys? Tiger and Joey, do they have better luck with Amber than Mateo?

Jessica: Well, Joey especially, who’s played brilliantly by Nathan (Bryon) is just very stupid, and it’s never going to happen. Tiger’s the same, I think she needs somebody with a bit more bite. Maybe she’ll find him... who knows?!

And how are you settling in?

Jessica: It’s just a really lovely job. It is a bit like a second family, cast and crew, everyone is so lovely and it’s the first job I’ve done actually, that you mix with the crew so much. It very much feels like one big team and everyone’s really pulling together.

Tim: We’re one big happy family.

So Tim, any new wigs this year?

Tim: Well it’s a bit longer actually. The great thing is, that I’m only Lesley in the evenings now, in Neptune’s.  It’s so much easier for me, especially around the pool when I’m in rollerblades and it’s 38 degrees and I’ve got the wig on, it’s really hard work, so my job is a lot easier this year.

I feel like I’m dressed like the rest of everybody! (Laughs)

How’s Les/Lesley coping without his son Liam this series?

Tim: He doesn’t actually mention Liam at all, but as far as I’m concerned I miss him dearly. As a character but as my friend as well, he’s a lovely lad, a pleasure to work with and it’s a big miss for me.

But of course we’ve got this lovely lady (looks to Jessica) and we’ve got a good relationship. As soon as I see her I think she’s good at what she does, she wants to work hard and she’ll be good to work with. I think she thinks I’m a bit odd at first, but she knows that I’m on her side.

Jessica: There’s a lovely moment between the two of them this series.

Does Les/Lesley have much to do with the Dawsons?

Tim: Yeah, mainly because he’s behind the bar all the time, serving them their drinks. The grandad and Les don’t get on at first because he thinks he’s very rude, and he won’t stand for that.

What brings Mateo back from Madrid?

Jake: He escaped because he wanted to get away from his mother-in-law and the family. He has a lot of brothers who would have his balls on a spear if they could, so initially that’s why he had to go. But also, I think Madrid is very different to Benidorm and it’s sort of spoken about in a scene, that Madrid hasn’t got the excitement and the heart that Benidorm has.

Jessica: And he can’t get laid! (Laughs)

Jake: It’s very much about just missing being here. I think people that are born or brought up in Benidorm never leave. This is where they’ll stay forever and work forever.

Jessica: I have a line in this series where I go “There are two types of people who come to Benidorm. Those who never leave, and those who never want to come again”, and I think that’s kind of true. Although it hooks you in, because it does have a lot of heart and I think Derren (Litten) captures that really well in the series.

Jake, you’ve been here from the beginning. What’s the difference between the start and the phenomena it’s become?

Jake: You never know what to expect when you start something. It was very exciting to do a new show that hasn’t been on before with a brilliant ensemble cast, particularly for me Siobhan (Finneran) and Janine (Duvitski) who I was very much in awe of.

It’s just evolved over the years. You do a show and hope you do a second one, and then you go it’ll be nice to do a third one and then you get used to it. I think it’s evolved in a really nice way. The first show was very different, I don’t think there was longevity in that so it had to change, it had to move on with the times. New characters, new storylines, and even now with the Dawsons instead of the Garvey’s, it’s an important change.

Bad for us as friends that people aren’t here, but if you look at the bigger picture, the show that is Benidorm, which is the important thing, I think it’s great for that.

Benidorm returns Monday 11th January at 9pm on ITV


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