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Film set for "Solana Hotel" reception

ITV's hit comedy series "Benidorm" is back in town currently filming its record 5th series. It now has a cult following and the crew have been in town recording since 29th August - planned finish date is 3rd December. If you are in town you have most probably seen the "Primoti" Vans (Spain's equivalent of Hertz) parked along the road either infront of the strange "Pink building" - just up from Benidorm Palace, which is the set for the Solana Hotel reception or behind the Pelicanos hotel. Yesterday they were filming in The Square so all the vans were parked up outside The Secret Fountain and Marina Hotel.

I was lucky enough to get an interview with the director John Henderson who very kindly took time out of his busy filming schedule to talk with me. This is John's second time with the series - he also directed the Christmas Special last year. He is working on 5 of the planned 7 episodes and will be in Benidorm until 4th November then Sandy Johnson will be back to direct the last 2. He has an impressive resume having won 2 BAFTA's but is totally down to earth and not at all pretentious - his first BAFTA was for "Spitting Image" which I remember well and the second was for the Best Children's Programme "The Borrowers". He has written, directed and produced many television and film productions over his career and I asked him where he started.  His first dip into the world of media was in television where he wrote the British sketch comedy "Not the Nine O'Clock News" starring Rowan Atkinson who went on to star as Mr Bean & Johnny English; Mel Smith ; Griff Rhys Jones and Pamela Stephenson. Other well known productions include "Ladies of Letters" with Maureen Lipman; "Saxondale" with Steve Coogan; "May Contain Nuts"; "Terry & Julian" and "About Face".
Filming on location in "The Square" with John looking on
I asked him whether prior to last Christmas when he was filming the Christmas Special had he actually ever even been to Benidorm. I was suprised to hear that he had infact spent many many happy holidays on the Poniente Beach as his family had a villa in the area ..... but that was some 40 odd years ago and Benidorm wasn't what it is now. However, he was amazed at how clean and well looked after Benidorm is now - especially in comparisson with the UK. An example he gave me was the bins- they are emptied every night here whereas where he lives in the UK its once a fortnight.
What he loves about the "Benidorm" series is that its like one big family ... the cast essentially remain the same for each series and it really is a tight knit set. You get some coming and going for certain episodes but for the most part its the same actors which is great. Everyone gets to know each others little quirks.I asked him what happens to the filming schedule when  the weather turns ... as I said this the heavens had opened and lightening had been flashing across the Benidorm skyline. Could they swap filming scenes I asked? It depends he answered .... mainly on whether the correct cast were available as some fly in for a a few days then go back to carry on with other commitments, such as Sherrie Hewson (previously of Coronation Street) the replacement for Chrissy Rock who is a regular panalist on ITV's "Loose Women" and I also noticed that Matthew Kelly was around the previous week for filming.
John went to Hollywood for 6 years - 2 of those full time but couldn't get use to the superficial attitude and much prefers working in the UK and Europe given the choice. He has worked with an endless array of "A-Listers" including Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Danson, Joely Richardson, Roger Daltrey - he even managed to convince Ted Danson to go without his "hair piece" during the making of "Loch Ness" ! 
On set at the "Solana reception"

He told me that alot of time is spent researching and carrying out recce's - he once spent  two months with David Puttman in East Germany and it came to nothing. "You always need to have a few jobs on the go as often only one will come to fruition". I asked him what was next on the agenda after he finishes here in Benidorm and he is working with Gareth Unwin - producer of the Oscar winning film "The King's Speech" on a film he has written called "Sandlewood" ... you heard it here first remember! It will be filmed in the UK and Germany but has yet to be cast ... when John wrote the script he had Jude Law in mind as the main character but with Gareth Unwin as Producer he could probably get any "A-Lister" as they will be clammering to be in any movie following his success with The King's Speech - John did mention Johnny Depp to me too!!!

We carried on talking then he had to excuse himself as the crew where patiently waiting for him finish so that they could carry on at the next location. What a true gentleman Mr Henderson is .... I look forward to watching the new series of Benidorm when it comes to our screens. I did fish for any info as to whether any celebs were due for cameo appearances but none were due during his episodes ... he heard the rumour about Joan Collins too but said she certainly wasn't due out on his watch.

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  • Step back in time...

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    Love it xx
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