Derren Litten, the creator, writer and brains behind the ITV Benidorm series is normally a man of mystery - rarely giving interviews, but yesterday he spoke to Ashley Price, lunchtime presenter on Benidorm´s No 1 radio station - CoolFM 974. Very little is known about the genius who has bought this wonderful resort to the forefront of everyones minds and made it a must do destination for many, after having watched the series on television.
Most people only know him as the writer of the Benidorm series, but Derren is infact an acclaimed actor in his own right, appearing in a number of television shows. Aside from Benidorm he created, wrote and starred in another sitcom last year - "The Spa" on SKY Living, in which he played Marcus Wells, a wheelchair-bound aerobics instructor. He went to the same drama school as Catherine Tate and has remained a close friend since. Catherine asked Derren to write some sketches for her series, "The Catherine Tate Show" - in which he also appeared and through that he met writer John Sullivan - the man behind what must be one of the most iconic Britsih comedy classics, "Only Fools & Horses". John asked Derren to write an episode for the spin off show "Green Green Grass" then in 2006 he started writing a comedy series in his own right, which eventually ended up as what we now know is "Benidorm".
Initially the series was set in the UK, with the central characters, swingers Donald and Jaqueline - then the idea came about of setting it around a pool and the idea grew and escalated. Derren had never actually been to Benidorm before, having only ever heard about it as a child from family and friends who had been on holiday here... thank goodness it wasn´t San Antonio or Playas Las Americas is all I can say! When the first series was commisioned he had only written 2 episodes so he jumped on a plane, arrived here and carried on writing. Considering that he had previously never been before Derren has certainly made up for it, as he now owns a house in this beautiful area - complete with pool and requisite palm tree. It is fantastic that Derren manages to include various locations around the resort in each series, which over the years has included Altea, Old Town, Terra Mitica theme park and Fonts D´ Algar waterfalls to name just a few.
The success of the Benidorm series is phenomenal, and filming of the 7th series is nearly at an end. Although a popular destination even prior to the programme, it catapulted bookings and continues to do so every time the series is screened. The knock on effect for local businesses is fantastic and everyone wants to visit the various locations when here. With this in mind and suggestion by Benidorm All Year Round.com Derren was presented with a plaque by the Mayor, Agustin Navarro and British Consul Paul Rodwell for his contribution to increased British tourism to the town in September 2012. You can see the plaque, which is at the side of the tourist information office located between Morgans Tavern and the Sol Pelicanos hotel - the two main filming locations.
On the tail of a successful show Derren also published a book in 2011 called "The Benidorm Guide to a Happy Holiday" to accompany the series. In it Solana regulars offered "advice" for a great holiday such as tanning tips from Madge, advice on how to make your holiday "swing" by Donald and Jaqueline and a guide to holiday romances from Mateo - the cast members all turned out for a book signing to launch it at Morgans Tavern and every single copy was snapped up!
Not many people recognise Derren, although that is slowly changing. Often when he is with cast members and the fans want a photo, the occasional person recognises him and asks for a picture with him - and he laughs when he can hear people asking who he is!
Virtually every and any actor clambers to make a cameo appearance in the series and even Derren couldn´t resist, casting himself as Elvis the Chauffeur for probably THE biggest name to appear in the series - Hollywood legend Joan Collins. She made her appearance in the final episode of the last series, cast as Crystal Hennesey Vass, the CEO of the Solana Group - I wonder how many people recognised that it was the writer himself? Everyone always wants to know who is going to be appearing in the upcoming series and a number of names have been spotted throughout this years filming period - Terrance Aubrey Boyce, better known to most as Boycie the second hand car dealer from Only Fools and Horses, Nadia Sawala, Ruth Madoc who played Gladys in Hi-de-Hi and best of all, the return of Joan Collins. There is no confirmed date for airing of the 7th series yet, but Derren says it should be early next year - so keep a look out.