Jason Manford and Catherine Tyldesley on their new BBC1 coastal comedy, which begins this evening at 9.30pm...
Sun-kissed ITV sitcom Benidorm entertained viewers with its cheeky antics for 10 fun-filled series until it ended last year. But for bereft fans, there’s good news with more sun (possibly!), sea and sand in Scarborough, a new BBC1 comedy from Benidorm’s creator Derren Litten.
The six-part series centres on Mike (Ordinary Lies’ Jason Manford) and Karen (Coronation Street’s Catherine Tyldesley), who are giving their relationship another go, five years after they split. Karen, who works at local hair salon Geraldine’s, ended things because she wanted stability while Mike’s ambition to become an entertainer meant he was never at home.
But having realised what’s important to him, Mike has given up life on the road to return to Scarborough and Karen. Between the goings-on at Geraldine’s and popular karaoke hot spot The Good Ship (Derren plays its landlord, Jack), there’s never a dull moment in the North Yorkshire seaside down.
But will it be second time lucky for Mike and Karen?
Here Jason Manford, 38, and Catherine Tyldesley, 35, to learn more about new BBC1 comedy Scarborough…
What can you tell us about your characters in Scarborough?
Jason: “Mike is a club entertainer, but he was away from home so much touring that it resulted in him and Karen breaking up. Mike and Karen are both now approaching 40 and they’re trying to work out whether they’re meant to be.”
Catherine: “Karen cares for her mum and works as a hairdresser at Geraldine’s. She’s not as ambitious as Mike; she just wants an easy, happy life. After they broke up, Karen got married on the rebound, but, for her, it’s always been about Mike. She just hopes he can compromise a bit.”
Is Mike ready to commit or is he still drawn to life on the road?
Jason: “I don’t think that ambition ever leaves you. But, once you hit 40, you think: ‘What’s going to get me the most fulfilment out of life? Is it performing to strangers every night? Or is it being with someone who loves me?’ That’s what Mike’s got to work out.”
Catherine, is local hair salon Geraldine’s important to the community?
Catherine: “Both the salon and the karaoke bar, The Good Ship, are the heart of Scarborough and where the locals all come together. The salon is full of all these wonderful, matriarchal characters; it’s their world and, later in the series, it looks like it’s going to come under threat.”
You played Coronation Street’s Eva Price for seven years – is Karen anything like her?
Catherine: “No, she’s the complete opposite! Karen’s a lot more chilled than Eva and a lot less interested in what she looks like. And she’s more careful with her decision-making. She really thinks about consequences, whereas Eva didn’t think about consequences – ever!”
In what ways is Scarborough similar to Derren Litten’s other comedy series Benidorm?
Jason: “Only in that Derren’s got such a great ear for dialogue and he knows his characters – especially northerners! I had a guest role in Benidorm and it was different to this. This is more gentle but still really funny.”
There is one connection, though, as Mike’s best mate, Bigsy, is played by Steve Edge, AKA Benidorm’s Billy Dawson.
Jason: “That’s right. Steve is actually my best mate in real life; we were best man at each other’s weddings. While filming this, the cast all ended up living on this posh caravan park. Steve and I lived together and I’d make him a brew every morning.”
Have either of you ever been on holiday to Scarborough?
Jason: “I went as a kid quite a lot, yeah, and it was also my first ever grown-up, adult holiday that I paid for.
Catherine: “I went as a child, too. Many of the cast and crew were nostalgic – and also gaining weight because of the fish and chips!”
Jason: “Scarborough’s really beautiful but it’s almost been forgotten a little bit; much like the characters in this show feel they’ve been forgotten about as well. But a lot of people will be booking holidays to Scarborough once they’ve seen this!”
Scarborough starts on BBC1 this Friday at 9.30pm.