Elsie Kelly reveals her double delight at playing Noreen and her glamorous twin Doreen in Benidorm...
There are some very daft tourists staying at the Solana Hotel but none sillier than Noreen Maltby. This week in Benidorm, the potty pensioner is holidaying with her daughter Pauline, a recovering alcoholic, but they get a huge surprise when suddenly Noreen’s twin sister Doreen turns up to greet her by the pool.
The arrival of glamorous Doreen has been an absolute delight for Elsie Kelly, as she now gets to play both twins in the hit ITV comedy. TV Times spoke to the 81-year-old actress to find out more…
TV Times: What was it like playing Doreen? Is she very different to Noreen?
Elsie Kelly: “Yes, they’re identical twins, but Doreen is more upmarket than Noreen. She’s done better for herself materialistically and married someone with a bit of money. She’s also more outspoken and a bit sharper – I mean you’d have to be sharper than Noreen, wouldn’t you? But she has her eye to the main chance far more than N ever would Obviously the twins from the same background, so I carefully considered this when playing Doreen.”
TV Times: Doreen seems far more glamorous and racy, and she mentions having a toyboy…
Elsie Kelly: “Oh yes, there’s a bit of a twist to that! Her toyboy arrives in a later episode, and it’s a real shock! Doreen’s definitely got some much nicer clothes than Noreen because, as you’ve probably observed, Noreen has absolutely no taste as far as fashion is concerned!”
TV Times: With the magic of TV Noreen and Doreen do appear side by side in scenes. But was it hard to film the two different parts?
Elsie Kelly: “Yes, it was quite strenuous in the heat because there was a lot of swapping about and changing around of costumes, hair and make-up. There were a few logistics involved, but we got by!”
TV Times: Johnny Vegas, who played Noreen’s son Geoff, isn’t in this series, but do you stay in touch?
Elsie Kelly: “Yes there’s now a deep friendship between us. I went to Johnny’s wedding a few years ago in Seville, which was lovely. He has the most delightful wife. Then regrettably Johnny’s father died about a year ago and Johnny rang me and asked me to sit with his family at the funeral. When you work together for a few years you get to know each other very well. Johnny’s just lovely, and he can be a little naughty sometimes, which is endearing.”
TV Times: Do you enjoy a night out with any of the other cast members when you’re filming?
Elsie Kelly: Yes we do, but I’m the old lady of the gang so I don’t stay late. We go out for a meal and then some of the youngsters will go into Benidorm’s Old Town afterwards to party as you’d expect, but I’ll always think, ‘there’s a lovely book waiting for me’!
TV Times: You’ve been in Benidorm from the off. What do you remember about the first series?
Elsie Kelly: “Well I was only supposed to be in the show for just one episode. They had a wonderful ending for Noreen – she should have been on a lilo in the pool. Then she dies and floats around the pool for a couple of days before anybody notices her. I thought it was a wonderful ending, but Benidorm’s writer Derren Litten wanted to do more with Noreen and Geoff so I was saved!”
TV Times: What can’t you do without when you film in Benidorm?
Elsie Kelly:“Plenty of pairs of glasses. I have macular degeneration in both eyes so it’s important I have the right glasses. Fortunately I have a very methodical husband who marks all the cases, so I have glasses everywhere on the different locations, and they’re clearly labelled ‘Elsie’s sunglasses’!?”
TV Times: How do you find being in the Spanish sun?
Elsie Kelly: “The sun is really fierce and actually bounces off the pool, so I always take plenty of sunhats to try to keep the sun off my eyes as much as possible. I’m very fair-skinned, so I have to have high factor suncream that’s basically for babies, because I’m so pale I’d just burn up otherwise! Even if I tried to get brown I’d just burn and peel.”
TV Times: Do you read loads while you’re out in Benidorm?
Elsie Kelly: “I now have a Kindle so I can carry loads of novels on it. There’s often a lot of time between takes so I do read a lot. I also swap books with other cast. Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline) is an avid reader – she always has her nose in a book – so we’re always talking about what we’ve read!”
TV Times: Who would you say inspired you to become an actress?
Elsie Kelly: “When I was a little girl I always begged to be taken to the cinema to see musicals. I really wanted to be in one and loved stars like Mario Lanza and movies like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Carousel and Oklahoma! I’ve always felt the pull of musicals and played a few parts but I wanted desperately to direct them. In recent years I’ve done Annie, Oliver and my next project is directing Sweeney Todd.”
Benidorm is on Wedensdays, 9pm, ITV