Interview with John Henderson – Director of ‘Benidorm’

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 Decembe 3rd.

If you are in town you have most probably seen the ‘Primoti’ vans (Spain‘s equivalent of Hertz) parked along the road either in front of the strange “Pink building” – just up from Benidorm Palace, which is the set for the Solana Hotel reception or behind the Pelicanos hotel.

At the weekend they were filming in The Square so all the vans were parked up outside The Secret Fountain and Marina Hotel.

Director John Henderson who 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 November 4 then Sandy Johnson will be back to direct the last 2.

He has an impressive resume having won 2 BAFTA’s but is down to earth and unpretentious – his first BAFTA was for “Spitting Image” and the second was for children’s programme ‘The Borrowers’.

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 and 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’.

Henderson said he has spent many happy holidays on Benidorm’s 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 comparison with the UK.

An example he gave me was the bins- they are emptied every night here whereas where he lives in Britain it’s 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. “Everyone gets to know each others little quirks,” he said. 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 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 panelist 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” !

He told me that alot of time is spent researching – 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”. After he finishes in Benidorm and he is working with Gareth Unwin – producer of the Oscar winning film “The King’s Speech” – on a film he wrote 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, John did mention Johnny Depp to me too!

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