Interview: Benidorm's John Challis on the return of the hit itv comedy.
The 10th series of Benidorm will see legendary comedy duo Hale & Pace join the show as undercover detectives (Dennis and Nigel) investigating Tim Healy’s character Les/Lesley, who returns to the series full time.
John Challis (aka Monty) tells us more...
How do you feel about Benidorm achieving ten years on itv?
Oh it’s amazing. I can’t think of another series that’s gone for so long, it’s remarkable. Ten years!
What is the secret to its success?
It’s just such escapism, there are so many people who love to go to Benidorm because it really is about forgetting about your daily life and letting your hair down. The tv show is a celebration of Benidorm. Before I started, I’d never been there. I thought originally perhaps it’s not too clever but actually, it’s a place where people just go to have fun and people do drink too much and they do karaoke and things and it is just about having fun, and we all need that. That said, Benidorm is surrounded by the most beautiful countryside and towns and it really is special.
How much time do you get to enjoy it?
We’re out there for four months at a time so quite a lot actually! There’s a real celebratory mood out there, we go out most nights. What’s lovely is we have the regular cast but we also have people coming out just for a week or so, so it’s really lovely to go out to dinner with these people and there are new people coming and going all the time.
There are some excellent cameos this time around aren’t there?
Yes Derren Litten, the writer, is so keen to get as many heroes in to it as possible so Tony Hadley, Chuckle Brothers, Bobby Ball there are all sorts of people in the tenth series.
We spoke to David OReilly the other day and it sounds like you both have a lot of fun when not filming?
Oh David is great, yes we did hang out quite a lot and he’s brilliant fun.
So many people say Derren is brilliant to work with, do you get to improvise a lot with the script or is there no need to?
No the script is so sharp you deliver what you get, you don’t need to divert away from it and improvise. Derren knows what he wants. The script is a drea, Derren is very particular and he knows how to write for every character.
Sounds like it’s a lot of fun on set as well as off?
Yes, it is. What I really like is the karaoke! It’s wonderful. It’s so funny, I did my first song and the cast were listening to met and they were laughing their heads off so I was quite pleased with myself! It’s not just the guests that are so good, it’s the music in the show as well.
Benidorm is taking a brak for the stage show, do you know when it will be back?
That would depend on how well the new series is received, but with the stage show coming up we won’t be filming this year so we’re looking at 2019 if there is going to be more. It depends on the reaction.
Speaking of which, in the days of Only Fools Twitter was a distant dream. How do you find the instant feedback you now get through social media?
It’s wonderful, it is extroadinary now the pace of communication. It’s tremendously valuable to communicate. I do a one man show and I can use Twitter to say when and where that is going to be. You can also literally see audiences increase as a direct result of social media. Only Fools finished in 2001 and none of this existed then, so it wasn’t good at attracting new people to it, it was always the same audience.
If you could work with anyone from the Only Fools days on Benidorm, who would it be?
It would be the wonderful Kenny McDonald, the landlord at the Nag’s Head. He would absolutely love it, he’d be right in there on the karaoke joining in. We miss him greatly, we all do. He would love it.
You mentioned your One Man Show before, tell us more about that?
The one man show started on cruise ships, somebody invited me to talk for 45 minutes about my career and it was so popular, perhaps it was because it was a captiev audience! I did some more though and we’re four years on now. It is me telling my story esssentially, stories from Z Cars, Doctor Who, Only Fools, Green Green Grass and everything in between. I love doing it, I get to meet the audience at the end, well the ones who want to meet me! It’s just a nice evening of entertainment, it’s really great.
If people want to know more about it, where do they get the information?
Go to wigmorebooks.com and it’s all there.
Benidorm returns to itv on Wednesday 28 February at 9pm. Watch the 10 year Benidorm documentary tonight at 9.