St Helens funnyman Johnny Vegas is back for the ninth series of Benidorm. The dad-of-one reveals whether his character, the Oracle, has finally grown up, how he deals with fans at desperate times and why he wound up singing songs from The Sound Of Music
GEOFF’S SISTER PAULINE WENT COMPLETELY OFF THE RAILS IN THE LAST SERIES. HOW ARE THINGS THIS TIME ROUND?
I think this series should be called, ‘What are we to do about Pauline?’ She’s a mess. Just as Geoff and his mother are building on their new-found respect for each other, Pauline [Selina Griffiths] is throwing a lot of chaos into the mix, which is bringing out sometimes the best in us, but they are still squabbling between each other.
DO YOU AGREE IT’S AN INTERESTING DYNAMIC BETWEEN THEM ALL?
Yes, it’s odd because Pauline’s the biological child, but she’s like the cuckoo in the nest. Geoff and Noreen [Elsie Kelly] are much more similar and Pauline’s the one who ends up wondering how she’s ended up with a family like this. While she’s been off doing her own thing, Geoff’s tied to Noreen’s apron strings. He wants that independence, but he doesn’t because he’s terrified of going out into the world on his own. Noreen has absorbed all of Geoff’s nonsense, all his bad behaviour, but with Pauline, she has no problem in pulling him up and telling him he’s an idiot.
DO YOU THINK GEOFF’S GROWN UP AT ALL?
I think Geoff is on a learning curve in terms of looking out for people other than just himself, although he does still reference Noreen [his mum] as PA to the Oracle, so that didn’t last long.
WHAT DOES HE MAKE OF PAULINE’S NEW BOYFRIEND?
He’s her sponsor back in England, supposedly trying to help her stay sober, but he’s abusing his position and Geoff can see what’s going on. Geoff’s very wary of him. Noreen’s trying to keep the status quo between her kids, but Geoff can really see through it. Mark Heap, who plays him, does it perfectly. He’s one of the most charming guys and a lot of fun to be around, but when he wants to crank up the creepiness, there are few people who do it better than him.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HE THINKS PAULINE MIGHT BE PREGNANT?
Well, she’s acting strangely, being sick and wanting weird foods, so he thinks she’s pregnant. Then it transpires it could be any number of men after a team building exercise she’s been on back home got a bit kinky. Geoff sees himself as a bit of an amateur detective, so he sets about trying to figure out who the father is. The Oracle turns a bit Columbo!
ANY SIGN OF ROMANCE FOR GEOFF THIS SERIES?
No. There’s no sign of Ionella this year and I think he’s all consumed with Pauline’s pregnancy. He doesn’t seem to have women on his radar. I do think he genuinely fell for Ionella last series. I think it’s taught him about the true nature of love and romance. So now he thinks that rather than buying it or lying his way into it, he’s taken a back seat and is waiting for it to happen naturally.
WHAT HAVE THE FANS BEEN LIKE WHILE YOU WERE SHOOTING THE SERIES?
It was as crazy as ever. It’s a bit of a nightmare when you are desperate for a pee and you have to walk through some of the fans to get to the toilet and all they want is a selfie when all you need is a pee. It’s very rare that people can get as close as they do to a set of a show they love like Benidorm, so of course they’re excited to see us working. We have to remember that while it might just be another day at work for us, for them it’s something special. The same goes for selfies. It might be our 50th of the day, but to them it’s the first and it’s made their holiday.
ANY OF THE FANS EVER GONE TOO FAR?
Last year some fans pretended to be some of my relatives and tricked their way on set. They even got their picture taken behind the bar. I didn’t have any relatives out then, unless my mother was ‘doing a Pauline’ and putting it about and we have a family I don’t know about. That’s quite ballsy, so hats off to them for that one, very brazen!
ELSIE CELEBRATED HER 80TH DURING THE SHOOT. HOW DID YOU CELEBRATE HER LANDMARK BIRTHDAY?
It was lovely to help Elsie celebrate her 80th birthday. We had a wonderful party. Everyone performed some show tunes, so it was a mad, mad night. I don’t have a vast knowledge of musicals, as you can imagine, so they suggested we did something as a family. Selina, me and Josh Bolt did some songs from The Sound Of Music. Selina and Josh did Sixteen Going On Seventeen. I didn’t realise quite how much Josh looks like Rolfe. I was Captain Von Trapp and did Edelweiss. But no-one pointed out my boots weren’t riding boots, they were cowboy boots. That’s all down to the wardrobe department who are fabulous, they pulled my outfit together.
:: Benidorm returns to ITV on Wednesday, March 1