Benidorm recently finished its 10th series. Creator and writer Derren Litten implied it might be the last. However, ITV, the channel which broadcasts it, have stated that “no decision has been made”. I have watched Benidorm regularly but I’ve never blogged about it, not sure why really. But I suppose series 10 is a significant milestone, they had a separate programme celebrating ten years of the show called Benidorm: 10 Years On Holiday. There’s also a touring stage show featuring some of the TV cast due to begin later this year.
If you’ve never seen Benidorm however, it is a sitcom set in a Spanish all-inclusive hotel and is about the antics of the staff and holiday makers. It is very long running by British sitcom standards, let alone ITV comedy standards. Notoriously, ITV doesn’t have much luck when it comes to sitcoms. But Benidorm is an exception to the rule. It still gets good viewing figures. In fact, it has been considered ITV’s most successful sitcom ever! At the time writing there are differing rumours as to whether or not this was the final series, but either way here’s my overview of series 10.
In the first episode, Solana hotel manager Joyce Temple-Savage (Sherrie Hewson) is getting married to Monty Staines (John Challis). The wedding is as chaotic as you’d
expect! Receptionist Les/Lesley (Tim Healy) wears a wedding dress too, which is even more pimped out than Joyce’s! Upstaging the bride, eh Lesley? The ceremony is to be conducted on Peacock Island, and everyone is seasick on the boat ride there because it’s a rough crossing and it has to go fast to get there in time. Then as soon as they get to the island, a seagull bombs a big green crap on Joyce’s wedding dress. “Bugger knows what those seagulls have been eating!” says Lesley.
Joyce then has to walk down the aisle to ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ by The Prodigy, before it is corrected to the Wedding March. We learn that Monty’s full name is Montgomery John Thomas Staines! Still, at least they got a good wedding singer. After they are declared husband and wife, ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet is performed…. by Tony Hadley himself in person!
Chinese restaurant owner Mr. Wu (Paul Chan) is providing the three course reception. Monty asked him for “the full monty, chips and rice!”. So that’s what Mr. Wu provides – nothing but chips and rice! For three courses! Then all the wedding party are stuck on the island overnight except Tony Hadley, who left early, and Blow N Go salon hairdresser Kenneth (Tony Maudsley), who decided to swim all the way to Benidorm to find help. He thought his layer of fat would keep him warm in the sea!
He is missing in the next episode, but he soon turns up, saying it was “the best night of my life!”. He nearly drowned, but was fished out by a fishing boat. (It’s fitting that he later wears a T-shirt that reads “Bleached Whale!) On the boat he met a sailor, Vladimir (Antonio De La Cruz), who Kenneth calls “Vlad the Impaler”.
We meet Vladimir ourselves in the next episode. He is a man mountain, seven-foot tall, towering over everyone and has a very deep, gravelly voice. He gives hairdresser Liam (Adam Gillen) a friendly bear hug – (Vladimir is very much a bear!), and he almost crushes Liam’s ribcage! Apparently Vladimir smells quite strongly of fish too. He’s tracked Kenneth down because he wants to marry him!
Vladimir was married to a woman, but after the night with Kenneth he came out of the closet and left his wife. He starts sending Kenneth flowers, balloons, hearts and teddy bears! To Kenneth, what happened between them was only a one night stand, and he is terrified of Vladimir now. He and holiday rep Sam (Shelley Longworth) plan to make Kenneth look straight – no easy task! – with Sam as his fake wife. “Straight” Kenneth uses no hair gel, the peroxide is washed out, and his bright, vibrant t-shirts are replaced with a plain, bland one. Kenneth also puts on a gruff voice. It doesn’t seem to work, until Sam claims that she and Kenneth have children. Vladimir decides that he and Kenneth can’t be together, as when Vladimir came out his wife took the news badly, and he hasn’t seen his children since then. He doesn’t want Kenneth to meet the same fate. Vladimir was a sympathetic character, as he had genuinely fallen for Kenneth, he had been closeted for a long time and his coming out had been upsetting for him. Even if it was motivated by sheer terror on Kenneth’s part, Vladimir and Kenneth were never going to happen the way Vladimir wanted, so this way it allows him to move on without feeling rejected.
Kenneth has more trouble later on in the series when the Blow N Go gets bricked up, with a hungover Kenneth inside! He wakes up, opens the door and window and sees just a brick wall! His screams are drowned out by ‘Release Me’ by Engelbert Humperdinck. He ends up resorting to eating strawberry scented hair wax. He says, referring to I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! “If Katie Price can get her gob around a kangaroo’s anus, you can eat a bit of hair wax!”
Eventually, the others find out that he’s trapped in there and break the wall down, but by that point he’s somehow managed to squeeze through an air vent, which leads to him coming out of the trapdoor at the stage of the hotel bar Neptune’s, just as ladz Joey (Nathan Byron) and Callum (Julian Moore-Cook) are singing ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson on karaoke, with the worse for wear Kenneth coming up from the trapdoor looking like the most colourful zombie ever, and begging for a pint! Tony Maudsley is good generally, but he was particularly great in that episode.
Kenneth is probably my favourite character overall, he is hilarious!
I also really like Rob Dawson. He’s such a nice, likeable lad, and Josh Bolt who plays him is a really good actor (not to mention very cute!) So I did like that Rob had a larger role in this series. Rob has been backpacking in South America, and has met and is in a relationship with Cyd (Lalia Zaidi). Cyd is a woman from Columbia, but because of her name, before they meet her the rest of the Dawson family wonder if Rob’s partner is male or female. The awkwardness of introducing a partner to the family, particularly the grandparents, happens here. Paternal grandfather Eddie (Bobby Knutt) does that talking SLOWLY and LOUDLY to foreigners thing, and maternal grandmother Loretta (Kate Fitzgerald) thinks Cyd is Mexican. Because of the confusion with the name, they also think Cyd is transgender. (Eddie thinks “They did a great job!”).
What’s even more awkward is that Rob’s dad Billy (Steve Edge) ends up having to sing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ with Cyd, even worse when he accidentally trips her up with the microphone lead and she has to go to A&E.
Cyd is gorgeous, and many of the male characters fancy her. Barman Mateo (Jake Canuso) comes onto her, offering her a breakfast of sausage and bacon, in a way that it’s a sexual innuendo. Cyd turns him down on both offers in one statement: “The last thing I need after a swim is a mountain of old, burnt meat that has been left sweating in the sun for days!”. Then later she throws a cocktail at him!
I liked Cyd, she’s fierce. She called Rob and the other lads out on their double standard, (the double standard in question being that old chestnut, that a man who has a one night stand is “a legend”, while a woman who has a one night stand is “a slag”). As nice as Rob is, even nice people need to be called out sometimes.
Rob is a very sweet boyfriend though, he surprises Cyd with a bunch of roses when they go out together for example. He decides to propose to Cyd at Neptune’s in front of his family, but when she doesn’t answer, he runs off in embarrassment. We find out why she didn’t answer when her father, Franco (Gary Oliver), arrives. He’s massively overprotective of Cyd. (He may or may not have had a previous ex-boyfriend of Cyd’s shot!). He’s also very rich and has a private jet. He spends some time with the Dawsons, and actually laughs at Eddie’s jokes, but then says he and Cyd are leaving and they won’t contact the Dawsons again. Lots of viewers felt sorry for how heartbroken Rob was, it was very well acted by Josh Bolt. Rob is understandably in a low mood in the next episode, but his mum Sheron (Julie Graham) and Loretta encourage him to try to get Cyd back, and there is a rush to the airport. Rob gets to Cyd and Franco as they are about to leave. Rob has two tickets to Paris for him and Cyd, and she asks him to pop the question again. He does, and this time she says yes! Franco is actually impressed with Rob, and tells them they can go to Paris on the
private jet! Mega happy ending.
Though it is bittersweet in a way, as while it was pleasing to see Rob get such a happy ending I am still sorry to see the character leave, and Josh Bolt himself, but hopefully he’ll be in a lot of other things. One of my TV dreams come true would be if he got a part in an episode of Inside No. 9!
Loretta spent most of the series mistrusting Cyd, thinking she was a gold digger and/or a drugs mule. It’s quite funny how quickly changed her tune to practically being a hardcore shipper for Rob and Cyd, to the point where she claims, not too convincingly, that “I’ve always liked that girl!”. Having said that, if you view it as Loretta, in her own way, looking out for her grandson and wanting what’s best for him, then she didn’t really change her tune at all.
I quite liked seeing Loretta and Eddie team up and become, well frenemies, if not friends. Despite the fact they don’t particularly like each other, they joined forces to plan a surprise party for Billy and Sheron’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. It didn’t really work out, but it made an interesting dynamic. There was some sadness viewing the Dawson scenes though, as Bobby Knutt passed away in September last year, and the first episode of this series was dedicated to him.
The Maltbys come back, though Johnny Vegas unfortunately didn’t return as pub quiz champion Geoff “The Oracle”. Noreen (Elsie Kelly) and Pauline (Selina Griffiths) did however. Pauline is trying to write a novel, but has writers block. In fact, she hasn’t written a single word. Being an alcoholic, she’s also trying to stay off the booze. She asks for lemonade at the poolside bar, but Mateo, knowing what Pauline is like, thinks she’s really asking for vodka, so gives her that. The alcohol seems to spark her creativity though, as she manages to write. What she writes is “erotica”. As Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski) puts it – “a bit like pornography, but for posh people!”. Pauline begins to consider Jacqueline her muse, as Jacqueline has done a lot of sexual stuff in her time.
Things actually go reasonably well for Pauline this series, notwithstanding the brief return of her gaslighting ex Malcolm (Mark Heap), this time armed with a flare gun. But he’s quickly dealt with.
Noreen’s twin sister Doreen, also played by Elsie Kelly, makes an appearance too. Doreen was mentioned way back in series one, but this is the first time she’s been seen onscreen. It was quite nice to see Elsie Kelly play a different character in the series. Noreen is a sweet old lady, if a bit dotty, while her sister Doreen is snootier, more of a drinker and likes to date middle-aged men. Doreen accidentally sends Pauline’s book to a publisher…. and it gets published! So, if this is the last ever series then Pauline gets a happy ending too!
My favourite episode overall was episode 3. It featured THE CHUCKLE BROTHERS!!!!! Childhood nostalgia there. They played a magician The Great Crostini (Paul) & “glamourous assistant” Co (Barry – in drag!). In their act, Eddie got his head stuck in the magic box! There was a lot of “To me!”, “To you!” from The Chuckle Brothers, and when they left they said “To mine?”, “To yours!”.
Sam reserved a champagne and steak dinner for four, so that was herself and boyfriend Joey, and Callum and his girlfriend. But Callum was lying about having a girlfriend and hadn’t managed to pull, so he ended up having to get Mateo to arrange a blind date. Who he got was ‘Loca’ Lucy (Gina Fillingham). Lucy turned out to be a bubbly, fat geezerbird who worked at a curry place called Korma Chameleon. At the champagne and steak dinner, Lucy farted and stuffed herself with bread, before shitting herself from a leftover lamb pasanda she’d helped herself to.
Episode 3 also featured Kenneth singing ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar, and Bean the drunken clown (David O’Reilly) singing ‘Danny Boy’.
Hale and Pace feature in a few episodes as undercover policemen Dennis, played by Hale, and Nigel, played by Pace. They were after Les, but decided to put off arresting him so they could have a holiday. Having to come up with a cover story on the spot, they claim to be a gay couple – gay green grocers, to be exact! They couldn’t agree on how to spend their holiday, sorry “undercover investigation” though. Dennis wanted to go to the petting zoo, and Nigel wanted to sunbathe!
Shane Ritchie returned as washed up entertainer Sammy Valentino. He charged Monty ten euros for a selfie – which Monty didn’t even want in the first place! I’d quite like to see the gameshow Sammy Valentino was on. The catchphrase was “Get off my grass!”, the bonus round was “Don’t wake the rhino!”, and the double money round was “mind that scarecrow!”. He had a weird obsessive fan played by Graeme Hawley, best known for playing panto serial killer John Stape in Coronation Street. But the fan was nowhere near as demented as Sammy himself is! He used to have a ventriloquist dummy in his act named Manny. He keeps his remains in an urn! It doesn’t contain ashes, but sawdust and ping-pong ball eyes. When he sees a copy of the dummy he used, he tries to “kill” it again. As Joyce put it, the audience had to watch him “perform live vivisection on a puppet!” He also keeps press cuttings of stories of his breakdown and tabloid car crash antics in a scrapbook covered in glitter! He gets a haircut at the Blow N Go, and the fact that he wears an obvious toupee doesn’t deter him! They manage to get rid of Sammy by sending him off to be the “entertainer” (well, that’s his official title) of Crystal (Joan Collins), the Solana owner, while she’s on a cruise.
Danny Walters, who played Tiger Dyke, didn’t return in this series as he has joined the cast of EastEnders. New character Callum is a fairly obvious stand-in for Tiger,even in-universe! Joey says “Tiger couldn’t come. You took Tiger’s place!”. Kenneth sees Joey and Callum and says of the latter “I don’t even think that’s the same one!” But they give Callum his own backstory, which is quite sad really. He’s never been able to afford to go on holiday before, this is his first one! Callum doesn’t have much luck in love either, aside from when he goes to the Bel Toro and picks up Caroline (Alex Childs), a business woman. They went to his room at the Solana, but she was gone the next day. She left behind some money, because she thought Callum was an escort! Which at first he’s a bit peeved about, but then is more pleased when he remembers she left a lot of money for him, and that she would like to use his services again when she’s in Benidorm!
The final episode, described as “the final in this series” by the continuity announcer, involved a baggage handler strike. Customers had to deal with Maxine (Claire Sweeney) a nasty, sour airport check-in attendant. However they got help and life advice from Larry (Layton Williams) a nice, camp airport check-in attendant. Also, Derren Litten made a cameo appearance as an Elvis Impersonator.
I was a bit shocked to find out that Sam is 41! I assumed she was about 28-ish to be honest!
The Dawsons run into Eddie’s friend Ron Pickford (Bobby Ball) who faked his own death. Ron’s coffin which was buried was filled with “a load of old tat”. The “old tat” being Eddie’s stuff he lent him!
Ron comes back with the Dawsons to Neptune’s, and gets on with Jacqueline. They remember that they have in fact met before, at the Dewsbury Swingers Association Christmas Finger Buffet!
Billy meets Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Billy’s a huge fan, so it’s a great moment for him. Holly Johnson performs at Neptune’s that night, singing ‘Relax’ and ‘The Power Of Love’ among others, but Billy misses it!
The last few scenes in Neptune’s were very poignant. Sam and Joey’s on/off relationship seemed to settle on “off”. Sam says of it “I don’t cry because something’s over. I smile because it happened”. Then there was Joyce in tears when she thought that she was going to lose her job after hearing that Crystal was selling the Solana to another hotel chain. As bad as Joyce is as a manager, I felt really sorry for her then.
But the final scene was quite lovely, with Billy and Sheron at the pool celebrating their 25th anniversary having a drink, with ‘The Power Of Love’ playing and a firework display in the background.
A few highlights of series 10 for me:
The Dawsons appear to be from the Leeds area, or at least they hang round there a lot.
Dodgy Dave (played by Michael Starke – Sinbad from Brookside!) runs a rigged raffle.
Jacqueline buys a VERY phallic looking barber’s pole – and a second-hand bloodstained barber’s kit! She uses the kit to give a thorough shave to drag queens… and Joyce!
After Joyce complains about being kept awake by Monty’s snoring, Lesley gets two earplugs… and shoves them up Monty’s nostrils!
“Happy is the pig who does not know he has shat himself” – Mateo states this, claiming it’s an old Spanish saying.
Eddie has egg on his moustache one morning… though God knows long it’s been there, as he didn’t have any egg for breakfast!
Eddie also says that once when Billy got dumped he stayed in his room crying to “that bloody Robin Hood song”, i.e ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ by Bryan Adams.
Sam’s unhelpful directions to the beach. “Long dry sandy thing at the end of the sea. If your feet have got wet, you’ve gone too far!”.
Sammy Valentino – “Squeeze my tits and call me Barbara!”.
Loretta standing up to Maxine, telling her “I swear I’m going to punch your face so hard you’re going to have to put a toothbrush up your arse to clean your teeth!”.
My favourite moment though, was the brief cameo by Carol Decker from T’Pau! She walks in to see Monty murdering ‘China In Your Hand’, so walks straight back out!
I really enjoyed series 10! If it is the last ever series, then I am sorry to see Benidorm go. If there is going to be a series 11 I’d have loved to see some of the characters introduced in this series be in for more episodes, especially Vladimir and Loca Lucy. Either way, I’m sure Benidorm will be repeated a lot, and the new touring stage show will likely do well.