Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Benidorm Series 4 - You Say Mateo, One Says Potato

It was Friday afternoon and one had taken GUSSET 2 for a spin down to the village. One had arranged to meet one’s dear friends Fanny O’Dour and Kitty at the Badger’s Snatch for a chilled glass of Pere Ventura Nature Tresor and to catch up on the recent local gossip.

As one pulled up outside the front of the village pub, life seemed to be going on as usual. Daphne Dewdrop had clearly enjoyed herself the night before. All the evidence was there; slumped back asleep on the bench in the corner of the village green, a bottle of 20/20 gripped in her mitten, lipstick smudged all over her face and her knickers apparently being warn as an off-white cotton anklet. In the distance, one could see Mr Peppercorn preparing his sausage meat through the window of his butcher’s emporium and Annelise Stules-Hoffen, the village chemist, was out cleaning her windows with a quick squirt and a follow through with a rubberised length.

Getting out of the Aston and locking the door, one heard a thunderous voice shouting, “Good Morning, Dame Crusty!” One turned one’s head to the right to see a large muscular drayman standing by the side of his vehicle yanking off his kegs and emptying his weekly load into the cellar below.

“Good morning, poppet! Goodness, you’re grip is vice-like.” One shouted back.

Entering the Badger’s Snatch with an elegant sashay, one joined Kitty and Fanny at a window table. Fanny’s husband Willy had already been kind enough to lay out some nibbles and, upon one’s arrival, brought an ice bucket containing the chilling bottle of Pere Ventura Cava we were to consume during our gossipfest.

It was towards the end of our meeting when we had a visitor. Annelise Stules-Hoffen had seen one pull up and had walked across – squeegee in hand – to invite us to her home that very evening. She was holding a skin awareness evening where she was going to explain various skin conditions with the aid of a selection of pastries, followed by suggested remedies using some of the many concoctions a person could buy over her counter. All-in-all, it sounded quite revolting, so one interjected speedily.

“Annalise dear, your invitation is very thoughtful but alas this evening there is something of such importance that even an invitation to dine at Buck House would be turned down. Tonight we see the return of Benidorm to our screens and it would be deeply unfair if one did not support one’s gorgeous poppet, Derren, after all the work he has put into it. There are also rumours that one’s treasured poppet Jake Canuso is to be caught without a stitch on, so you will appreciate one will need to be present when it happens to ascertain the most fitting moments to freeze frame.”

Though she had a look of confusion on her face (no more so than one did when she got to the ‘selection of pastries’ bit of her invitation) she quite understood and returned to the chemist shop, where she had left the village teacher, Molly Coddle, searching for a corn plaster.

Sipping the last bubblicious drops of one’s Cava, one set down the flute on the table and checked one’s Cartier watch. “Fanny? Kitty? Always a pleasure never a chore, but pray excuse one as one must away to make preparations for this evening.”

By 8.52pm Crusty Hall and its grounds were secure. The drive gates were locked, the telephones had been take off the hook, a selection of mouth-watering tapas had been placed in the Doctor Christian Room of the residence, along with several bottles of chilled Cava (naturally) and a pitcher of gin for emergencies. One reclined elegantly back on one’s chaise and clutched the framed, lipstick covered photograph of dear Derren that one had Chu Me bring in from the oak-panelled bar here at Crusty Hall. One cuddled it to one’s heaving bosom with affection and anticipation. One’s pussy Crotchet settled in his faux leopard skin and cream fur bed and one let out a small squeal of delight as it dawned on one… 9pm …the time had come!

One realised the new series would have a different feel. Last year the deliciously talented and well respected Geoffrey Hutchings – who played Mel - passed away and our writing poppet dwelled on whether a replacement should be sought. In the end he made the perfect decision and wrote an emotional Christmas special where the cast and viewer could say goodbye to him affectionately. Thankfully, however, due to the medium of film his memory will endure for generations to come.

And so the story starts; the Garvey family arrive at the airport; the start of their holiday and they are in search of their hire car (One only hopes it wasn’t from Europcar; if one could steer one’s poppets away from any holiday hire company it would be they. Recently, after Chu Me and I had used their services 'sin problemas' for an eternity, they decided to withdraw further money after the rental and when one complained most strongly … their customer service skills and focus on assisting a long running customer were non existent. By the end of several items of correspondence, it was clear that they cared as much about one as one cared for them.)

Anyhoo …. The comfortable feeling of being among one’s long participating Benidorm chums made one relax immediately and within minutes we were by the poolside of the Solana. It was here we began to be introduced to the new characters; the holidaying friends Natalie and Sam, the delicious Adam Gillen, playing Liam  - Tim the-roller-skating-tranny Healy’s son – and the beguiled Kenneth, friend and work colleague of the gorgeous Gavin, played by Hugh Sachs. One often thinks new characters can knock a programme off kilter but Derren’s exquisite writing solved that and they were like the knickers of a five legged woman … fitting snuggly like a glove.

As if the new characters were not enough, it was in the Altea Hills we come upon a British legend. One screamed as Mick and Janice were confronted by the utterly divine Cilla Black who had taken over Janice’s mother’s villa. One would never have envisaged a swinging Cilla but when the naughty Donald and Jacquline appeared on the scene it left a moment of comedic perfection in the annals of televisual history. The mental images one has of Donald, Jacqueline and Cilla naked in the Jacuzzi with bubbles blasting up between their buttocks under the Benidorm sun will stay with one for some time. The question the nation was faced with, however, was … where was Madge?

Not knowing what to expect and feeling quite concerned for her well-being, one was relieved the camera located her in a rundown caravan, as Janice frantically called her mobile when she found her mother’s electric scooter for sale in the local second hand market. Madge was in hiding. Keeping out of sight her scruffy, dishevelled state and before we knew where we were, The Garveys discover poor Madge has been left with huge debts after some unsuccessful investments by her late husband and she is being hunted down for settlement by the local villains.

This dramatic tale was a perfect contrast against the comedy of the other characters and one must confess a droplet pushed itself up from one’s right tear duct at the scene and wonderful connection between Dame Sheila Reid ( Madge) and the gorgeous Hugh Sachs (Gavin) by the poolside; Gavin recognises the scruffy Madge and gets up to say hello. Turning round he asks her "Where's Mel?", only to be told, “He died! On Christmas Day!” One could feel the emotion and sadness between them, heightened further by the camp interjections from Kenneth from his sunbed. Wonderful!

One was, of course, delighted to see one’s most treasured poppet, Jake ­he-of-the-gossamer-thin-budgie-smuggler Canuso appear on one’s 32 incher throughout, and one roared with laughter when a regional icon from one’s own locale, Tim Healy, stepped behind the poolside bar of the resort and called our dear Mateo …Potato. One still giggles now when one recalls it.

To top off this opening episode of joy, we have a Jackie Chanesque fight sequence between the Garveys, Madge, Lesley (the roller skating transvestite), Mateo-Potato and gangster’s moll, Scary Mary – played beautifully by a further regional icon of the North East Riviera, Denise Welch.

By the time one saw Janice head-butting Scary Mary to a state of unconsciousness, one was well and truly satisfied and applauded loudly. Even one’s pussy, Crotchet, banged his right paw against the parquet flooring with purring-padded approval.

As the credits began, one took a sip of from a Baccarat flute of Cava and reflected. Is it any wonder Derren and his chums won the National Television Award? One thinks not!

Amazingly, there are some people who do not “get” the show. Not appreciating its qualities and it’s modern day homage to some of the great comedies of our proud past; Are You Being Served? Carry Ons etc. Indeed, after the National Television Awards one “critic” from the Guardian – Vicky Frosty-knickers – seemed to scorn the presented award when there were "better" programs out there. Clearly, the brain the good Lord gave her behind her chubby cheeks didn’t understand the who premise of the awards. That winner was chosen by those whose opinion counts; the people who watch and adore the show.

Needless to say we shall not dwell on her. When one investigated her futher and found a photograph on Google, Crotchet immediately coughed up a furball on the blotting paper upon one’s writing desk. Sufficed to say, should Vicky Frosty-knickers discover anything that she has a talent for, one prays people are a little kinder to her … or, then again, not.

For Crusty, the show is exquisitely delicious and one cannot wait for the coming episodes. One must cast aside the sadness that one's poppet has decided this will be his last series. There may be others that take Derren's baby and take it further, but one only need look at Ronnie Mitchell and Kat Slater to see how that one turns out.

In the meantime, one raises one’s glass to a script writing wonder …. Ladies and gentlespoons …Sir Derren Litten …Chin, chin *clink*