What’s On TV went poolside in Spain to speak to Sherrie Hewson about her new role in Benidorm as hotel boss Joyce Temple Savage, and how Loose Women saved her for terrible times…

It must be loads of fun to play a snooty hotel boss in Benidorm?
“In my 40-odd years as an actor this is one of my best roles. I think Derren Litten is the most amazing writer and when he contacted me he and said ‘what do you think about being in Benidorm?’ I just said ‘wow’. It’s not difficult getting back to acting. It’s like sex or riding a bike. You just get back on it and off you go.”

What’s your take on Joyce?
“Joyce is posh Northern and obviously worked in better places in her lifetime. I think she was an air hostess, or worked on big cruise ships as a cruise director. She’s eventually come down to the Solana and she’s obsessed about making it into a 5-star hotel. She p****s so many people off, they literally want to kill her, particularly Kenneth, the hairdresser.”

In next week’s second episode she starts getting obsessed with Mateo the hunky Spanish barman?
“She mishears Mateo saying something. She thinks he says he’s in love with her, but can’t tell her because she’s the boss. And she carries that on. A little while later, she feels has to say to him, ‘Look I know you are in love with me and I totally understand!’ It’s a real cougar moment. Of course he’s not in love with her. It’s all a bit embarrassing, but of course, she does fancy Mateo – who wouldn’t?”

So do they get it together?
“There are scenes where she is blatantly flirting with Mateo. It’s the looks that kind of say, ‘I know what you think of me and I understand it, but I’m very experienced so you’ll be in very safe hands’. She assumes he’s quite excited by it, but kind of misunderstands the whole thing.”

This Benidorm episode also sees you in scenes with Matthew Kelly. How were they?
“Our scenes are some of the funniest, but also the saddest. Viewers will be thinking, ‘I don’t mean to laugh at this!’ She knew his character, dance teacher Cyril Babcock, before as they’d worked together in the 1980s, and he comes to help put on a Strictly Come Dancing contest at the Solana. I’m about the only one in the cast who didn’t get to dance. I’d have loved to because my mum and dad were dancers. That’s why I’d love to do Strictly.”

Do you relate to Joyce at all?
“Yes, the whole thing relates to me because I’m on my own, too, and I’m the age I am. There’s a sadness and you go, ‘poor old cow’. She isn’t going to meet someone terribly easily because she’s like me and she doesn’t trust anyone. The part is so very much ‘me’ – or a camper version of me – her lines and everything about her is so me.”

You seen some tough times haven’t you?
“In the last 10 years I’ve had the most horrendous time in the sense of all the s*** I’ve been through and I didn’t recover very well. But Loose Women helped enormously – isn’t it funny how things come at you at the right time. They have been my therapy, my saviours, and got me through the last 10 years that I wouldn’t have got through without them. That’s not just me being dramatic, it’s me being grateful to friends.”

What happened to you?
“I had a terrible time, I lost all my hair and I looked unbelievably odd. When you go through traumas then things happen, like you losing your hair, your nails – it was such terrible stress. And so being on Loose Woman, we talk about everything, it has completely healed me and that sounds completely crass and naff but I can’t think of another way of saying it. Loose Women has done that for me. Loose Women was there, like everything, for a reason. During the 10 years I also went to Emmerdale and that was fine, but I wasn’t in a good place. Although I loved doing it, I wasn’t in a good place.”

Thankfully you’re on the right track again now?
“Now I’m getting myself back together. My hair’s grown and it’s been the most fantastic awakening. Coming to Benidorm, I thought, I’m going to be away from my daughter and my granddaughter and that’s going to kill me. I never thought I can be away from them, because I never have been away from them. But after two weeks people told me to shut up and get on with it. I thought that’s right, you’re being ridiculous. And I’ve loved it here. Benidorm has the most amazing charm.”

So many must love you for Loose Women?
“Every person you meet is a Benidorm or Loose Women fan, so transferring to Benidorm hasn’t been difficult. It’s with Loose Women people are strange because they believe that you are their friend. It’s like a soap. I equate it to that. People think you are part of their lives. At the end of the day we’re all ordinary girls. We’ve had troubles like they’ve had troubles.”

Have you been on a mobility scooter?
“I did go on a mobility scooter while filming for Loose Women and not only did I nearly kill myself going across the road, because they don’t have any brakes, but I also smashed into another mobility scooter and smashed the wheel. And then, we were going down the hill and it wouldn’t stop and I thought ‘this is too dangerous’. They really frighten me.”

Joyce dresses well doesn’t she?
“I love the dressing up – that’s who I am. People always say to me on Loose Women, ‘oh my god, it’s 8am and you are in a meeting, fully made up’. My mother was a model so I’ve got it from her. My mother still is the most glamorous woman in the world and I’ve got it from her. I wouldn’t empty my bins without make-up. As soon as I get up in the morning, the make-up goes on, even if I don’t go out of the house. You never know who’s going to knock on the door. And what if I go in my garden?”

So you never slob about in tracksuits then?
“I’ve never had a tracksuit in my life. Even the girls here say it’s 5.30 in the morning and look at you. And I say I’ve just thrown this on but I haven’t. I can’t go home and slob about. My hair has to be done. I have to have mascara on. Then I have a cup of tea and it’s 8am. I have to. If I slob about my brain switches off and I stop. It’s not about my age, I’ve always been like that. I have to be fully set for the day. It’s my way of doing things. Whoever knocks on the door I’m ready. Otherwise they’ll die if they see me without make up on!”

Benidorm screens on Fridays, 9pm, ITV1