Pack your suitcase and grab your passport, we’re going on holiday! Live on stage for the first time ever award-winning cult TV comedy Benidorm touches down in Venue Cymru this April as part of its national farewell tour – Benidorm Live.
Brainchild of acclaimed comedy writer Derren Litten, the show followed the hilarious exploits of staff and guests at the fictional Solana Hotel in Benidorm. Fans of the ITV show, which ran for ten years, were left bereft when the Solana closed its doors in 2017, marking the end of an era for much-loved characters including ladies-man Mateo, manageress Joyce and hairdresser Kenneth. A testament to its enduring popularity, the Benidorm Live tour has been extended into 2019 following phenomenal demand from fans who will once again get the chance to enjoy some sun and fun with their favourite characters!
Among the familiar faces returning for the tour is fiery manageress Joyce Temple-Savage, played by legendary actress Sherrie Hewson. Although best known as a member of the Loose Women team and for roles in several Carry On films and Coronation Street, Benidorm’s Joyce is perhaps her most iconic character to date.
The Llandudno leg of the tour is eagerly anticipated by Sherrie, who has family in the area and adores North Wales. But just how did this Nottingham-born star lose her heart to our little corner of the world? Yes Mag’s Carly Roberts met Sherrie to find out more…
Carly: I’ve covered a lot of tours and I’ve never seen a reaction quite like Benidorm Live is getting, the reviews are something else! How have your audiences been so far?
Sherrie: I loved being in the television show, but this is a heightened version of being on the television show. Everywhere we go, without fail, every city, there’s hundreds outside the stage door, just wanting to say how much they love the show and how sad they’ll be that it won’t be on anymore. They feel a part of us.
People coming out of the theatre go around to the Box Office and book AGAIN! I’ve never seen that.
When the six of us go onstage at the end I say to them: “You’ll never hear that roar again.” We are so grateful and so thankful to have been part of it, because it has been truly wonderful.
Carly: Do you think that the remarkable reaction you’ve had is because the show has been around for so long?
Sherrie: Yes, I’ve never experienced anything like it in all my career. It’s the love of the show for ten years, it’s the fact that it’s not going to be on anymore, it’s seeing five characters from a television series that you’ve only seen on television, and suddenly they’re alive and talking and walking!
I remember I saw Are you Being Served? and Dad’s Army on stage and you do get a little bit gobsmacked by it. I don’t know what it is. Even though I’m in the business, it still makes you go: “Oh my God!”
Carly: Touring up and down the country, is it tiring? You all look so full of energy?
Sherrie: It’s a very fast show. In fact, sometimes, too fast and people must think, “God, they must slow down!” It’s two hours of intense music, dancing, theatre and story. There’s pathos, there’s sadness, there’s happiness, there’s joy, there’s fun. We sing Viva Espana at the end and the audience go mad!
Carly: How did you react when you were first approached to be a part of the tour, having starred in the TV series?
Sherrie: We were all sat together and this tour idea had been going on for quite a few years but while it was on television it was never an option. Once we knew that was it, Derren (Litten) said, “Right, we can now do the tour!” It was a natural progression.
Carly: It’s a hilarious cast, all very talented, how do get on with each other?
Sherrie: We really are a family – we squabble! We really care about each other. Even if you’ve got a cold or headache, Jake Canuso will send a text and say: “Oh, I feel awful”, and I’ll respond saying, “Yes, I’ve got this” or “I’ve got that” – it’s wonderful.
Carly: You’re spotted in North Wales quite a lot, are you looking forward to spending a few days here during the tour?
Sherrie: Yes, because my brother and my sister-in-law live there; they have a little restaurant called Characters in Llandudno and my niece and her husband have a restaurant in Conwy called Lava. We were there last week – it’s a beautiful little restaurant in the middle of Conwy!
I used to live in Conwy, I had a house on the marina. The town is having a resurgence at the moment, lots of wine bars and restaurants going in. I’m so looking forward to visiting again!
Carly: You’ve had a great career and are a well known face on our screens, what would say has been your career highlight to date?
Sherrie: I’ve been performing sixty-odd years so I don’t know anything else; I’ve never had a ‘proper job’, just this job.
When I think of everything I’ve done since leaving RADA… going to Switzerland to do The Slipper and the Rose with Richard Chamberlain, or going on location to make a film with Harrison Ford, or meeting Steve McQueen.
When I look back, there are pockets in my life: I did a drama series, that was a wonderful pocket; I came to Coronation Street, that was a wonderful pocket; then I did fifteen years on Loose Women, that was a big pocket! Then Benidorm came, and Joyce Temple-Savage. When Derren wrote it, he thought of me and I’m honoured – she will be with me for the rest of my life.
Carly: Do you think Benidorm will ever come back to the small screen or can we hold out for a movie?
Sherrie: Oh yes, Derren Litten has decided to make a film version of it! There’s a lot of interest in making the film but we don’t know anymore just yet. It would be so exciting, because the show has finished – there’s been the tour and a film would be the icing on the cake.
To make the film will be wonderful for us but also for the fans. There will be a lasting memory of a wonderful show that will go down in history.
When we’re out in Benidorm, those loyal fans are there all day from morning ‘til noon, sometimes freezing, sometimes burning to death. They will stay and they will wait and they will watch us. They come every year to the Pelicanos (the Solana Hotel in the show) and they’ll come and watch us film by the pool. Those fans deserve that respect – they deserve a film, really.
Benidorm Live comes to Venue Cymru, Llandudno, between the 8 – 13 April 2019. Book your tickets to the Solana today! Call the Box Office on 01492 872 000