Last summer I flew to Benidorm to visit the set of one of my favourite television comedies, Benidorm.
Whilst I was out there I was lucky enough to watch a spot of filming, get a tour of the set and of course speak to its wonderful cast including some great newcomers.
When Joyce Temple-Savage arrived in series 5, played by Sherrie Hewson, the new Manageress of the Solana quickly became a fan favourite and I can’t imagine the show without her.
So if there was one person I had to grab for a chat, it was definitely Sherrie Hewson, and where better to interview the woman behind Joyce Temple-Savage than the Solana reception area?
She could not have been more lovely, and we had a great chat about working on Benidorm and what was in store for Joyce in the new series. Here’s what she had to say…
So here we are, series 8 and Joyce is back…
Yes, Joyce is back. She’s part of the Solana now and I love it! She’s a funny thing Joyce because my theory is that she was once one of those very posh BOAC stewardesses and then she was probably an Entertainments Manager of the QEII or something and eventually she’s at the Solana!
She must be a great character to play?
Oh she’s amazing! I love the way she runs the Solana, I think she’s great. She’s quite rude to people. Derren (Litten) for me is the best writer ever, but when he writes her, I can hear my voice so he writes it with voices in mind.
In all my career, and I’ve been around for hundreds of years, I think this is it for me. This is the best part. I could die tomorrow… I won’t! But I feel like this is it, I’ve reached my height. It encompasses all the worlds that I’ve done, comedy and drama and they’ve come together in Joyce Temple-Savage. It’s fabulous.
Even though she can be rude, there’s a vulnerability to Joyce isn’t there?
She’s what I call a victim really. She’s vulnerable and I don’t think she’ll find a partner. I think she’s one of those victims in life who gets so close, but she’s a little bit needy, so when she meets somebody she’s ridiculously over the top.
Any more trouble for Joyce this time around?
There’s always problems. There’s a character coming in who she thinks is rather lovely but then he kind of proves again to her that he’s not, and another character comes in the she rather likes, played by John Challis, but again sadly it all goes wrong.
So yes, there’ll always be troubles but I won’t be falling down the stairs again, and I don’t think there’ll be any more botox! Everybody wherever I go talks about that botox moment, and a lady said to me the other day, she went “Did it hurt? The injections?” – I was going to say, no of course not but I went “…a bit!” (Laughs)
How can I explain to her she kept going “You’ve recovered.” so I just had to say it wears off in the end!
How is Joyce taking to the new family? The Dawsons.
Well at this moment in time, I haven’t had much to do with them. When she meets Eddie (Bobby Knutt) for the first time she finds him rather beneath her, and in fact he was quite pleasant to begin with but then he did an inward burp and she just went “Urgh!” so it’s fair to say he’s not in her world. I think she’ll stay well clear of him.
And of course, Joan Collins is back!
Yes. She’s always trying to either sack me or put me down. She treats me really badly, she looks down on Joyce but I think she thinks that Joyce gets things done, but thinks Joyce thinks she’s better than she is. She did say to her “This is a 3-star not a 4-star”.
I have some brilliant scenes with Joan. I just think she’s amazing, she’s lovely to work with, very funny! It’s like The Beatles out here with people queuing down the road for her, but she is Joan Collins!
What do you think Joyce makes of Crystal?
I think she admires her. I think she likes her job, but she’s not as clever as Crystal, Joyce has a nativity about her which Crystal doesn’t. She’s absolutely straight down the line and will sack you tomorrow.
Joyce isn’t a CEO I don’t think, she helps the staff. Because last year when Crystal told Joyce to cut all their wages and get rid of them, she took a wage cut so she could keep them, so there’s that side to her which Crystal doesn’t have.
She has some great scenes with her staff, doesn’t she?
Oh fabulous, yeah. Also the one thing I really like about the stuff we’re doing with Tim (Les/Lesley) this year is that he susses her. Les knows that she’s playing a game for her own sake so he’ll just look at her because he knows what she’s doing.
She has a fabulous relationship with Mateo, I remember at the beginning when she says to him “I know you’re in love with me, but there will never be anything” but that’s sort of gone and now they all get on. They respect her, but they know she’s playing a game and it’s lovely.
As for Kenneth, he has no respect for Joyce at all! He just goes “Piss off!”, but there’s nothing she can do because he doesn’t work for her. He’s his own thing.
Was it nice to have Sheila Reid (Madge) back?
Oh it was lovely. We have an auction scene so I did get to have a little bit of a scene with her and on her last day I had a scene in Neptune’s with her, so that was rather nice. It was nice to see her, she loved being back!
Benidorm always gets great guest stars doesn’t it?
Everybody I know is desperate to be in it! I just think it’s the best sitcom on television, although I don’t call it a sitcom you see, I call it a comedy drama, I know it’s not that but there are very poignant moments.
Every actor I know, and not just actors, presenters, you name it, will always say to me “Is there any way you could suggest me for Benidorm?”. And I always suggest them to Derren, from David Gest to everybody in the world, they all want to be fun two shows in our country, Benidorm and Downton Abbey.
Everybody loves the show and realises what it’s worth. It’s a cult show, it’ll be remembered forever, like Only Fools and Horses, it is the best of its type in television. I don’t think you can beat it, and I don’t think you ever will.
Have you got used to the fans out here in Benidorm?
This is my fourth year and it’s just got worse and worse and worse, but that’s because it’s so big and so popular. You can’t knock it can you? Sometimes it’s not nice, I don’t mind anything as long as they’re not drunk. Drink makes them very over familiar to the point where they just want to hug and kiss you all the time and that’s fine, but when they’re drunk it’s not so nice.
But we’re lucky because they all watch it in their millions, but it’s fabulous that they are so loyal to the show. I think it’s great, and when the fans are by the pool they’ll watch and when they shout action they try and get into shot as extras but they’re thrilled to be here!
I hope it goes on forever… for me anyway!
What’s next for you?
I do try and still do Loose Women, obviously I can’t when I’m out here. I’ve been asked to go into a musical, they were talking to me about doing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but I don’t really sing. I always lie and say I can! (Laughs)
So really, my agent wants me to go back to the theatre, which I haven’t done for a long time and do a play or something. It’s always a good thing to do in an actor’s life. People think I’m Joyce now, just like they did when I was Maureen, and of course Loose Women is me and that’s a bit difficult because people forget that you can act!
But it would be a good idea, I’d love to do a musical.
Benidorm returns Monday 11th January at 9pm on ITV