Amanda Barrie reveals what a laugh she had filming ITV’s Benidorm with her former Coronation Street co-star Sherrie Hewson..
Joining Benidorm means you appear on screen again with your former Corrie co-star Sherrie Hewson. Was it like old times again?
“I’ve known Sherrie for what seems like 100 years! Of all the people I know in showbiz Sherrie’s the one I see the most because she often stays at my flat. It’s great to work on a brilliant comedy like Benidorm together. We had one big giggle.”
You’re playing a dotty medium called Psychic Sue… Does she have much to do with Sherrie’s character, Solana manageress Joyce Temple-Savage?
“Yep Joyce and Sue meet in the hairdressers Blow & Go, then Sue goes on to hold a seance for Joyce, Liam and Kenneth in there. The scene kept going wrong though. I couldn’t remember the name Bonnie Tyler in my lines. I kept saying Robbie Fowler instead! We had lots of laughs doing the seance.”
Is Psychic Sue a regular at Blow & Go?
“I don’t think her hair has seen much hairdressing-action but she does go there to get her nails done. Psychic Sue doesn’t look all that good I’m afraid.”
Does Psychic Sue dress a bit eccentrically?
“The trousers kept falling down on me. It was really unflattering. I was looking horrible, worse than when I was in Bad Girls. I just kept thinking. ‘What is this desire to completely destroy myself on television?'”
Have you ever had any psychic experiences?
“When I was a young girl, my mother took me to the spiritualist headquarters in Belgrave Square for a meeting every Sunday night. I’d see people all tied together with ectoplasm and hear weird voices coming out of them. My mother was absolutely dreadful because they’d go to the audience and she’d seem to get every message. The spiritualist could have said” ‘I’ve got a one-legged Chinese man here!’ and my mum would say: ‘That’s for me!’ Of course she didn’t know anyone like that. She was such a character though.”
So you’ve a vast experience of mediums…
“Oh I’ve an awful feeling Psychic Sue came naturally to me.”
And what about the supernatural?
“I once lived with my mother in a cottage built in 1474 and it’s the only time. It was unbelievably horrifying, and I’ve no idea what it was. I spent the entire night frozen and terrified to move even though my mother was only in the other room. I felt this huge pressure on me and I couldn’t move. The extraordinary thing was, not long after that, the man next door was found slumped dead against the wall that backed onto my bedroom. They said he’d literally died of some sort of fright. I remember thinking: ‘That doesn’t surprise me!’ No animal would stay in that place either.”
Do you believe in the afterlife?
“Ooh I’d like to because at my age you’re hanging on to anything! But it’s one of those things you can’t bank on. It would be nice if you could.”
You’re fondly remembered for playing Cleopatra in Carry On Cleo – what are your favourite memories from those days?
“The funny thing was being in a Carry On was a bit like doing Corrie. You were working under pressure. The best bits were with Sid James. I’m afraid we were gigglers. He couldn’t say the word ‘Caesar’ for some reason, kept saying ‘Shakespeare’! It went on until the two of us were streaming tears of laughter. Also, when he used to go to bed during film breaks, I had to put on all his bets at the bookies! It was very much that sort of relationship. We had a lovely time on Carry On Cabby too. The Carry On cast were all great to work with and the early days were lovely. I was always doing terrible films in those days, but the Carry Ons were special.”
Did you really get rolled out of the carpet in that famous Carry On Cleo scene?
“Oh gosh yes! The stunt girl didn’t turn up in time, so I was insisting they rolled me out. Then she turned up and was rolled out afterwards but she was rolled straight into a coffee table and she smashed her teeth! I thought ‘let the stunt people do the stunts, eh?’ I was lucky because I was in the beginning and I think it was very different.”
The humour in Benidorm is very similar to the Carry On films isn’t it?
“It’s got that longevity that the Carry Ons had because it’s got the same humour that stems from good writing. It’s totally character-driven. What they said in the old days with the Carry Ons was there needs to be three big laughs per page of script. You’ve got to have them in there and Benidorm’s writer Derren Litten does this brilliantly. It’s a great show and I’d rather be doing Benidorm than Downton!”
*Amanda can be seen in Benidorm on ITV, Friday January 9, at 9pm