Sheila Reid: ‘Mother Teresa would love this!’

Look out for Benidorm star Shelia Reid playing a comedy Mother Teresa in Psychobitches on Sky Arts 1. The show features a number of famous women from history, like Eva Braun (Catherine Tate), Beatrix Potter (Selina Griffith) and Joan of Arc (Katy Brand) telling their problems to a psychologist played by Rebecca Front.

Sheila told What’s On TV about the time she actually met Mother Teresa, and how the famous holy woman would have loved Sheila’s character Madge in Benidorm…

What did you think when you were asked to play Mother Teresa as a beer-drinking, chain-smoking grump?

“At first I was quite nervous to be portraying this woman I’ve looked up to all my life in that way, but then I thought, actually if she saw it, she’d shriek with laughter and love it. It’s not taking the mickey out of her at all, it’s more about how we perceive people to be, how many sides everybody has to their personality and that we’re all a lot more complicated than we initially appear to be.”

Did you do any particular research for the role?

“The amazing thing is I actually met Mother Teresa once at her orphanage when I was touring in a production of Romeo & Juliet in Calcutta. At the end of the session I said to her: ‘I feel so humbled by this, look at what you do with your life and look at what we do with ours – I want to give you my weekly wage.’ But she refused, saying: ‘No, I pray, you play. Both are equal in the eyes of God.’ Wasn’t that an amazing and thought-provoking thing to say?”

The show has an all-star cast, including Catherine Tate, your Benidorm co-star Selina Griffith and Katy Brand. Who did you hang out with?

“The whole concept is such a clever idea and I had an absolute ball. I’ve got the most marvellous picture of the lovely Catherine Tate and me together. It’s completely hilarious – she’s got these huge heels on and I’m so small I literally just come up to her waist!”

Would Benidorm’s Madge and this version of Mother Teresa get on?

“They’d get on a treat. I can see Mother Teresa on the back of a mobility scooter, I bet she’d have a whale of a time.”

What was the most challenging aspect of Psychobitches for you?

“It was a very short filming schedule, but I think being wound into Mother Teresa’s sari took longer than the shoot. That was extremely difficult I have to say, because there was a huge amount of material. It was probably about two lengths of a tennis court and it had to be wound around me, which was quite difficult for the costume department. They had to pin it on me so I could move in it, but at the same time it had to be tight enough so it wouldn’t fall off.”

When do you start filming the next series of Benidorm?

“Well, we’re not allowed to say whether we’re doing another series yet, but I think we are allowed to say that the signs are good. Watch this space…”

What are you up to in the meantime?

“I’m going to play someone very different to Madge on telly in the Christmas special of Call The Midwife. She’s quite a sad person who has had quite a difficult life, she’s at the bottom of the heap. So that’s a lovely contrast because there’s no swearing, no fake tan and no mobility scooters!”

Pyschobitches is part of the Sky Arts 1 Playhouse Presents series and will screen on Thursday, June 21 at 9pm

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