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I TALK TO Tony Maudsley

Having lost his partner in crime, Liam, at the end of the last series, Benidorm fans will be pleased to hear that Kenneth Du Beke (no relation to Strictly’s Anton) is back for more fun in the sun as the series returns for an eighth run!

Picking a favourite character in Benidorm is difficult, but for me Kenneth is most definitely up there. No one wears a vest white like him, so you can imagine my joy when it came to our interview out in the sun, and Tony Maudsley, who plays the flamboyant hairdresser Kenneth, came off set wearing a fluorescent green vest with an image of a fork and the word off on it ("Fuck off").

I've got to talk to you about Kenneth's vests, who comes up with the slogans?

Me! I have a really filthy mind, but they've really tamed me down in the last few years. I don't know why, they have to be passed by a lawyer so a lot of them get stopped before they get to the screen! Like "If you think my attitude stinks you should smell my finger"! (Laughs) It's really good as well isn't it?

But no, I make them all up, and my friends and family do as well! My brother made up "Lord of the ring", my niece made up "Comb-asexual"... She's thirteen! (Laughs)

They're starting to copy my t-shirts now in the markets, you see stag dos and they all come as Kenneth! Actually, last year we were all out on a pub crawl, and we all bumped into a group of ourselves! It was the maddest moment. We all had our pictures taken with our counterparts.

Do you have a say for most of your outfits then?

Yeah I do, I chat to Head of Costume. The thing is, if it's not right, I'm not confident to walk around dressed like this! I don't mind looking completely stupid, but if it's only halfway stupid I feel a bit silly.

Last year, they tried to cover up a bit of flesh and I said no because then you're starting to apologise for what Kenneth looks like, and he thinks he looks fabulous.

The minute we start apologising for what he looks like, is the minute we start to lose the character. So I had to put my foot down and say "Pull those shorts up!"... the more up the crack they are the better! (Laughs)

What's happening this series with Kenneth then? Because you lost Liam...

Yeah, he's lost Liam and I'm heartbroken that he's gone. But Troy has come back, and in the story I used to work for Troy back in Derby... but I never liked him! He told me off once for nicking bog roll out the salon, so me and him had a big fight and never got on.

So he's come back and is trying to change everything about 'Blow 'N' Go', trying to make it more upmarket, a little bit more chic. He's trying to change the name!

I'm still the boss, but I can't afford the rent anymore, so I need him to bail me out. So me and him are at loggerheads because he's trying to change the name to 'Hair by Troy', which I'm not happy about at all, and he's trying to change me into a black uniform, black trousers and a black shirt... I'm not a fucking mime act! (Laughs)

It's a whole new dynamic, because me and Liam used to look out for each other, and me and Troy not so much, so it's created a new tension.

That must be quite nice to play?

Yeah it is. Because I've not had that for a long time, because me and Liam were just having a lot of fun the last couple of years, so suddenly you see Kenneth out of control and vulnerable.

Suddenly it's as if the whole world is against him.

Kenneth and Jacqueline are quite close this series aren't they?

Yeah. It's quite funny actually, because Jacqueline and me were really good friends in series four and five but I haven't spoken to her for three years! (Laughs)

So now Donald's gone we're mates again. But that's nice because I love Janine (Duvitski) so I love doing scenes with her.

We did a trip up the mountain to the cross, to scatter Donald's ashes. It's a really lovely scene, but we have to go back up because there was so much cloud, you couldn't see Benidorm. Janine was brilliant, it was so moving... and then we blow her off the cliff with a leaf blower! (Laughs)

Any stunts for you this series?

No, I got stuck in a sports car which required a little stunt, because they all had to pull me out of this sports car I bought, because I think I've come into money so I buy a sports car that's big enough for Noddy!

I was stuck in it and couldn't get out. There were thousands of people watching us film that.

Will we see Kenneth in Neptune's much this series?

Yeah, quite a bit. I did Stayin' Alive with Troy and Jaqueline. We did it really well, choreographed it and everything but they said no, we want you to do it really badly! It was great.

How do you get ready before each series starts?

Well, from December onwards I get ready by growing my hair, because as soon as I'm finished here I shave it off, so that I'm not walking around like an idiot.

And to get beach ready, I just eat more pies! (Laughs) Do you know what I mean? No salads required!

Benidorm always has great guest stars. Roy Hudd is on set today...

Yeah, we've got Roy Hudd, which was lovely. I got the photographer to take a picture of me and Roy. Roy's done Crackerjack and everything! He's been talking to me all day about Victorian Music Hall.

Joan's back for episode seven, third time! You don't admit it, but you're always quite excited to get a Joan scene. I was in one last year!

John Challis is back, Robin Askwith is back and I do a little bit of a scene with him and Louis Emerick! It's his third time as Norman the Doorman, he keeps coming back.

He's come to tell me that Herbert is dead, who has been paying my rent for me, which is why I think I'm about to inherit Herbert's estate and we filmed the will reading this afternoon, and I find out that Norman the Doorman has inherited it all!

So he's in a few scenes, basically to tell me that I'm skint and that he's taking the salon away from me, which is where Troy comes in to rescue me.

Do you think it difficult going anywhere in Benidorm now?

It's pretty impossible, yeah. Id you want a quiet drink, you have to kind of leave Benidorm. It's lovely because they're so excited to see you but if you want a bit of family time, you've got to disappear.

Do you get recognised back in the UK?

I do, but in London where I live, people don't bother. They recognise you, they look and walk away. They're used to it aren't they? But when I go back to Liverpool to visit my mum and dad, it's mental. So I've become a bit of a hermit really in Liverpool as well now.

But again it's really lovely because they're such big fans of the show. Every year you notice the extra amount of attention we get, it just builds up!

How are the new family settling in?

The Dawsons? They're great. They're really happy to be here. What was lovely was that after five/six year you start to take it a bit for granted and then you get this new bunch come in who are so excited to be hear that you realise that's what you were like.

It's really injected new energy into the show! They're so excited, they're thrilled. They're loving it and it's rubbing off on the rest of us.

When someone new comes into the show do you take them out in Benidorm?

Yeah we do, they get Benidorm'd! We get them absolutely smashed, doing karaoke! The new family were all so nervous when we said they had to have a karaoke song ready.

Steve Edge was going home and looking through back catalogues. We went out one night and Josh Bolt got hammered and did Sweet Transvestite and he came up to me at the end and asked if it was alright... I said, "It'll do." (Laughs)

And then the night finishes eating chicken and gravy and chips. That's how the night has to finish.

Benidorm returns Monday 11th January at 9pm on ITV


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