When Benidorm fans last saw Madge Harvey, the perma-tanned scootering granny had jetted off to Las Vegas with her family after being told she’d inherited millions there. But she’s back in her favourite Spanish resort in the third episode of Benidorm (Monday, January 26, ITV, 9pm).
She’s travelling alone but very glammed up and ready to spend her fortune.
What’s On TV caught up with Sheila Reid, who’s played Madge since Benidorm began in 2007, to find out why she’s back and what trouble Madge is stirring up this time…
It’s great to see Madge back! Are you excited, too?
“Yes I’m very excited to be back in Benidorm. I’ve missed Madge so much, because I love her to death. She’s kind of part of me now, I feel a sense of ‘Madge loss’ when I’m not doing her. It’s good to come back for the one episode.”
So why is Madge back in Benidorm?
“She’s back because she’s involved in some property deals in Spain and also because she loves Benidorm so much and can’t keep away! She’s revelling in her new riches and wearing so much bling I could hardly stand up to play her! The gold mobility scooter this time is a wonderful touch. The designers on Benidorm are so wonderful.”
It’s not long before Madge is back to her old ways, spreading verbal poison all over the resort…
“It’s why Benidorm fans love Madge so much, because she tells it as she sees it. Madge gets some great one-liners again – she still has that ability to destroy someone with a couple of words. She’s brilliant. She knows what she wants and because she’s had a tough life, she’s honest and direct, saying what she thinks without too much care for other people.”
There are some other changes in Madge this time though aren’t there?
“Yes, she’s ditched her ciggies and you now see her puffing on an e-cigarette – it’s probably from having lived in America where it’s more health conscious!”
We’ll see Madge doing property deals in Benidorm at an auction where she clashes with local Chinese restaurant owner Mr Wu as well as Solana manageress Joyce Temple Savage (Sherrie Hewson). Is she in her element?
“Madge is a woman of extremes and what’s interesting about this is she shows what a good business brain she has! It’s important that there’s a real purpose to her visit, and amazingly, it’s to do something nice for her grandson. In the past she’s always stolen money from her family and been vile to them!”
Was it fun playing the scenes alongside Sherrie Hewson?
“It’s always fun playing with Sherrie because we get on so well and we’ve known each other for a long, long time. We did a TV series years ago called Flickers for ITV with Bob Hoskins, that’s where we met. But it was great to catch up with all the cast from when I was last in the show.”
How did it feel putting on all that fake tan again to play perma-tanned Madge?
“They really do smother me in fake tan, but it has to be done. Madge wouldn’t look right if she wasn’t very brown. I have to be incredibly careful of my skin, so it’s quite difficult. When I’m filming I’m always covered in parasols and big floppy hats between takes which is a nightmare for the wardrobe. That’s the other thing about the show is everyone looks after you very well.”
When you were filming out in Benidorm were fans shocked to see you back there?
“Well I had a lot of people send me letters at the end of the last series saying they were so sad Madge isn’t going to be in Benidorm any more, that she cheers us up, and it’s the only thing I can get my husband to watch. That made me feel sad. Obviously she’s hit a nerve with people. She’s so special in a lot of people’s hearts and minds. She makes them laugh and my god we need to laugh, don’t we? So I’m glad she could come back for an episode.”
Was it strange filming in Spain without Madge’s family – the Garveys, played by Steve Pemberton (Mick), Siobhan Finneran (Janice) and Oliver Stokes (grandson Michael)?
“Yes it was really strange without them, as we were literally joined at the hip. We were like a real family when we were filming, so it was difficult to be in Benidorm without them. We do all keep in touch. The first birthday card I was sent was from Ollie, which was so sweet and I’m always on the phone to Steve. We’re all friends for life. I’d love there to be a Las Vegas spin off one day with Madge and her family out in America. I know the others would really be up for it, and so would I!”
So please say this might not be Madge’s last time in Benidorm…
“I think Madge does say something in the episode that hints it might not be her last time in Benidorm, but what can I say? I think it’s in the stars…”
Benidorm continues every Monday, ITV at 9pm