What’s On TV caught up with Sheila Reid on the set of Benidorm, where she revealed that Madge is about to make a new friend and gave us the lowdown on the Garveys, fake tan and the possibilities of doing wheelies on that mobility scooter…

Tell us about Mohammed (played by former Casualty star Dhafer L’Abidine), the handsome stranger who comes into Madge’s life in episode four!
“Well, he’s is extremely handsome. Madge is fairly won over. He brings her some things that Mel left in Mohammed’s father’s office. Mel did some business with his dad in Morocco and he left this cigarette case with a photograph of their wedding in it, so he brings it to return to Madge. What could be sweeter than that?”

How do they get on?
“Madge quite likes his ideas about the Muslim way of things. Because there are some very good things, like how they look after their old people. He’s got lots more to offer her than just Mel’s cigarette case. It’s quite exciting. Mohammed and Madge are a strange mixture.”

Surely Madge isn’t falling for a younger man, is she?
“No, it’s not love. She’s delighted that someone is making advances to her and making her feel good because Mel used to make her feel she was loved and like a princess. She’s missing that now because she’s back to where she was before, living in a council house back home and life’s gone pretty dreary, so this is pretty exciting. The story is very intriguing because we don’t really know who or what he is.”

How is she with grandson Michael now he’s getting older and moodier?
“Well, yes she gives him a bit of grief, but he can still be hoodwinked into passing over his money – and she knows the right buttons to push! They do have some big arguments this series, especially at the end when he suddenly leaps to his dad’s defence. He says what he thinks are home truths, but Madge doesn’t accept it because she knows she’s in the right.”

It’s must be nice to be at the heart of the main family in the show?
“I think the underlying emotion of the show is what makes it real and constantly interesting. It’s not just gags, it’s more than that. The Garveys can love, shout and berate, but they stick together. Madge can be vile, but my God, if anyone from the outside came in and was horrible to her family, she’d be a nightmare.”

Madge has a sharp tongue, hasn’t she?
“I love Madge’s confrontations because they’re always exciting and she gives as good as she gets. In the series Madge says: ‘I’m single-minded, independent and I won’t be beaten.’ I think that’s a really good line for her. If I had to give a character analysis of Madge, I’d say she’s ready for the fight at every turn.”

How are you now at handling Madge’s mobility scooter?
“I reckon I could do wheelies on one now! Sheila’s wheelies! It’s not something we noticed before, but they do have mobility scooter nights and hen parties on the things now. It’s a testament to Madge! I should claim some of the companies’ profits, shouldn’t I? I did a programme in England, a rather serious programme for the Norfolk police about the dangers of driving them, because they really are dangerous. You don’t have to have a licence and you don’t need to be insured. I’ve had several near tumbles into the pool and when we used to film in the apartment, there was a lot of broken furniture. It’s pretty tricky to manoeuvre.”

So, what do you actually drive?
“I drive a Suzuki jeep. It’s nice and high up for a smaller person like me.”

Are you surprised by the fans’ reaction when you’re filming in Benidorm?
“We’re now mobbed like we’re JLS or something! We could actually do with some security like them, too!”

You get some great guest stars. It must be nice to get all those famous faces to act alongside?
“This year’s been lovely. Matthew Kelly was great to have, and Sean Dooley and David Bradley were both fantastic. They all fit the characters rather than being big personalities. That’s what the show’s about. Joan Collins wanted a part, but I don’t think that worked out.”

How much fake tan do you put on to play Madge?
“I have to reapply fake tan daily in the bathroom. I’m like the Angel of the North. Have you noticed, Madge never goes in the pool. Partly because if she did there would be a nasty brown layer floating around it from her fake tan and it wouldn’t look too nice. If Madge had a wetsuit she could go in perhaps, but I’m not going to suggest it!”


*Benidorm screens on ITV1 on Fridays. Sheila’s storyline with Mohammed kicks off on March 16