As the new series of Benidorm kicks off on ITV1, we sit poolside at the Solana resort with actress Siobhan Finneran to find out what’s in store for the Garveys this time round…

The Garveys are at the Solana again when this fifth series of Benidorm begins. How is their holiday going?
“Well, Janice, Madge and Michael are there without Mick at first because he’s dealing with problems at one of the sunbed shops at home. Janice knows a little bit more than anyone else but not all the details. Mick does get to Spain later in the series which is good, as Janice is having a hard time dealing with their son Michael. She thinks he’s a lazy, good-for-nothing so-and-so. He doesn’t want to do anything and he’s basically turned into a moody teenager.”

Does Janice have her hands full then?
“Oh yes. In a later episode, Michael gets drunk and she has to clean him up. He goes out on Mick’s brother’s stag do and they let him do all sorts – much to Janice’s annoyance. Of course, there’s Janice’s mum Madge always sniping away in the background and there’s a new character Joyce Temple Savage, played by Sherrie Hewson, and she really gets their goat.”

Tell us more about her?
“Joyce is bloody annoying because she’ll do an announcement or play classical music around the pool when everybody’s trying to sunbathe. Then, just as you think that’s it, she’ll do another announcement and disturbs everyone. It really starts to wind Janice and Madge up!”

What other adventures can we expect for Janice during this series?
“A moment of madness from series two comes back to haunt Janice, and all the Garveys fall under the spell of someone that comes into Madge’s life later in the series. I absolutely loved doing a bucking bronco scene we have midway through series. We filmed on a bucking bronco in the middle of the tourist area with all the men in the cast and it was hilarious – viewers will love it. We have lots of dancing scenes too during this series. I think Strictly Come Dancing needs to watch out!”

How do you find all those Benidorm fans? It all goes a bit mad when you’re actually filming at the resort doesn’t it?
“We could do with a bit of security to be honest! People now tell us they’re coming to the resort just because of the show, that they booked for that reason. It’s incredible.”

Do you go out much and party in Benidorm?
“I don’t think we go out as much as we did, but we do have one night out a week. We’re not out five nights a week but if we’ve got the next day off we might go somewhere. This year we tend to say shall we go and have something to eat rather than being out till four in the morning. We call that being ‘Bennied!’. You need to be ‘Bennied’ at least once to fully appreciate Benidorm and to see all the outrageous characters.”

So, Benidorm isn’t an over-exaggerated show then?
“Definitely not. I was out the other night and there was someone dressed amazingly and if our costume department produced that as a costume I’m sure everyone would say: ‘No way! That’s too much!’. And yet there was this lady sat in a restaurant in a dress that left nothing to the imagination whatsoever. And you do see mobility scooters everywhere. Sheila Reid, who plays Madge, should have shares in the whole lot! She can do wheelies now!”

Have you seen any dangerous activity with mobility scooters?
“There was a lady who took out literally half the crew. A group of lads were coming out to get a taxi and she came out on the scooter and the lads were literally throwing themselves out of her way because she had no control over it at all. She was on the pavement and she ploughed through. How she didn’t injure someone let alone herself I’ll never know.”

The last series of Benidorm got its highest ratings ever. Why do you think the show gets bigger and bigger each year?
“I think people who have stuck with it from the beginning are telling their friends and family to watch it, so it’s just grown. If you talk to people they say: ‘Oh I’d never seen it but then somebody told me to watch it or friends bought me the box set.’ And now they’ve now caught up. There’s nothing else like it on the telly and we go out at a great time of year. We go out in February when everyone’s fed up, cold, miserable, and we bring a bit of sunshine into their lives. You can sit and have a good giggle. If it’s up your street you can have a good laugh at it.”

There are rumours about Benidorm: The Movie, especially after the success of The Inbetweeners in cinemas last year. Can you see that happening?
“It would be exciting, yes. We don’t know if there’s a movie in the pipeline but why not? If The Inbetweeners has been a huge success, I’m sure we could be, too.”

If one of the Garveys – like Madge or Mick – weren’t to return, how would that feel?
“Selfishly, I wouldn’t function without them. Janice wouldn’t function without Mick or Madge. We’re lucky it’s a lot of the same crew who’ve worked on it from the beginning so we all do know each other really well. That’s really good. You don’t often get that on jobs. There’s a proper family feel to it. Then the new characters add a bit of a change. It’s great.”

You must get to meet some great guest stars on the show…
“Jackie Collins did loads of interviews saying she loved it and wouldn’t mind her sister Joan being in it but she’s certainly not tipped up. Matthew Kelly was great this time, and David Bradley plays Mick’s dad.”

What do you get recognised for most, Benidorm or Downton Abbey? They must be two of the biggest shows in Britain, yet so different…
“I get recognised mostly for Benidorm. I’m never at home when Downton Abbey’s on as we film in the autumn when its shown. People tend to give me a sideways look and aren’t quite sure. I’ve had two great and different shows to be on. In one I’m playing grim O’Brien in a black dress from neck to floor and, in Benidorm, there’s very little clothing. As little as possible – just enough to be decent.”

What is it about the Garveys that make them so popular?
“The Garveys are at the heart of the show. People recognise themselves in the family. We stick together.”

Benidorm begins on Friday 24 February at 9pm on ITV1