There’s an outrageous granny prowling around the bars of Benidorm in the new series on ITV. Her name is Loretta, she loves a drink and a toyboy, and she’s played by Brookside legend Kate Fitzgerald…

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If you recognise Kate Fitzgerald, it’s probably from her long-term role as debt-ridden Doreen Corkhill in C4’s soap Brookside. That was quite a few years ago now, but Kate’s about to join the upcoming series of Benidorm, playing Sheron Dawson’s mum Loretta, a man-eating ‘cougar’ granny who loves to chase after drunk young men in the bars of the Spanish resort. What’s On TV caught up with Kate during filming as we were eager to discover what Loretta gets up to…

So tell us more about Loretta? We’re intrigued…
“Loretta is a real man-eater and behaves disgracefully, but she knows how to enjoy herself. It’s a gift of a part really, because although she’s Sheron’s mum she just doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her! Playing her gave me a great sense of freedom because she does all the things that you can’t really do in life!”

So will we see her getting up to all sorts of naughtiness?
“She couldn’t care less about convention or about the way she’s supposed to behave or about the way she’s supposed to dress, she just does what she wants to do and carries on regardless…”

Had you been to Benidorm before filming this?
“This is my first time in Benidorm and I did have certain preconceptions about it. I don’t really know why because all the people I know, like my mum’s next door neighbours in Liverpool, have come to Benidorm for years and they loved it. Now I love it too! Loretta’s kind of a reflection of the place because its so non-judgmental. It’s just people wanting to have a good time, enjoying themselves without harming anybody else and just going for it. I really love that spirit and Loretta kind of fits into the place fabulously because that’s her.”

What’s it been like to join a long-running hit show like Benidorm?
“There’s always a bit of a worry about coming into a very successful long running show because obviously you’re coming into a company where people have bonded for a long time but it’s been great, everyone has made it so welcoming and so easy. They’re a really nice group of people to walk into and not just the actors, every department. I was a fan of Benidorm anyway and I got the role at very short notice so I’m still pinching myself.”

The Benidorm series 9 cast have been so welcoming to Kate (see far right in black!)

Does Loretta dress outrageously? It certainly looks like it…
“I think she dresses marvellously. To the outside world, she might seem to dress without taking her years into consideration and be mutton dressed as lamb. It’s not the normal wardrobe that your average northern woman of her age would bring on holiday with them. She likes to show off her figure and her flesh a bit more than might be conventional for women of her age!”

How does she get on with her daughter Sheron, played so wonderfully by Julie Graham?
“Obviously there’s a deep love there and I suspect there have been times in Sheron’s life where she wishes she’d had a mum who stayed at home and knitted but instead she’s had a mum who’s told her how to put eye shadow on and all of that. I think there’s lots of ways that Sheron kind of admires her mum and she always sticks up for her. I get the feeling there’s a kind of strength there between the two women. I think Loretta’s probably been one of those mum’s that’s not always been there when you get home from school to make your tea for you but at the same time there’s been mad excitement at times that you wouldn’t get from other mums.”

And what’s she like as a granny to Rob and Jodie (played by Josh Bolt and Honor Kneafsy)?
“I get the feeling Loretta’s the type of grandma that mightn’t always send the birthday card in time but then when she does turn up she gives them presents they’ve been told they absolutely cannot have because they’re not suitable for children their ages. In on episode, she gives Rob the key card to her posh hotel room so he can get laid! And on her first night in Benidorm, she’s wrapped herself around one of Rob’s mates…which he’s none too pleased about!”

How does she get on with Sheron’s husband Billy (Steve Edge)?
“I’d say that from Billy’s point of view, he probably thinks he’s got the mother in law from hell and it doesn’t help that these two are constantly winding each other up because they do behave somewhat childishly with each other. I think Sheron sometimes gets quite amused when Loretta actually gets one over on him.”

Benidorm series 9 begins on Wednesday March 1, ITV, at 9pm