Benidorm is a prime-time ITV1 sitcom set in Spain, which features a strong ensemble cast comprising of a number of well known faces. The show was conceived by Derren Litten, the co-writer of The Catherine Tate Show, and is produced by Tiger Aspect.
Set in the Solana all-inclusive resort, Benidorm follows regular and first-time holiday makers on their journeys abroad. Despite their disparate backgrounds they all have one thing in common - a quest for getting value for money!
Regulars at The Solana hotel in Series 1, which was broadcast in 2007, included Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski) and Donald (Kenny Ireland), who have been coming to Benidorm for twenty years, though they have never seen the resort itself. Why do they need to, when everything they want is in the hotel? It provides all inclusive food and drink... oh and sex! (Both are enthusiastic and middle-aged swingers).
Kate (Abigail Cruttenden) and Martin Weedon (Nicholas Burns), who were going through a rough patch during their third year of marriage. Five seconds is all it takes for them to realise that the Solana Resort is the very worst place for them to make a fresh start.
Known as 'The Oracle' because of his computer-like knowledge of trivial facts and figures, Geoff Maltby (Johnny Vegas) was on holiday with his mother. He is Lancashire's pub quiz champion and prone to competitive behaviour.
Meanwhile Gavin (Hugh Sachs) and Troy (Paul Bazely) were on their first break away together after setting up a successful hair salon. Both like to think that they are far too classy for Benidorm but are happy enough to get drunk and snigger at other holiday makers.
Then there are The Garveys (pictured right). They are a Lancashire family who are on their first holiday abroad. Janice (Siobhan Finneran) and Mick (Steve Pemberton) are on holiday with their teenage daughter Chantelle (Hannah Hobley), eight year old son Michael (Oliver Stokes), and Janice's mother: the sun-worshipping, chain-smoking Madge (Sheila Reid), a woman who has a bad word for everyone.
The first series of Benidorm proved to be a fairly modest hit for ITV - with critics saying things like: "beautifully written and performed" and "a gem of wry observation in withering bad taste".
Series 2, which was broadcast in April and May 2008, saw all the main characters return to the Solana Resort for eight new episodes.
The Garveys were back with two new arrivals to the family: Mel (Geoffrey Hutchings) - the owner of five sun bed shops and "Didsbury's answer to Julio Iglesias"; plus 17-year-old Chantelle's new baby.
Then there was The Oracle who, at 37, was still determined to make the big break from his mum, or 'his PA' as he was still calling her in public. Plus, Kate and Martin who were never, ever coming back to Benidorm... were back too!
Gay couple Gavin and Troy who got engaged at the Solana in Series 1 returned to 'the scene of the crime' and good-hearted swingers Donald and Jacqueline were back as well, bringing with them happy memories of their MSA (Middlesborough Swingers Association) meet ups. There was also guest star appearances from Wendy Richard as Sylvia - a wheelchair riding love rival for Madge; and Margi Clark as Dorothy, Gavin's estranged mother.
Benidorm returned again in 2009 for a summer special which picked up where the second series left off (with several characters in prison, hospital and disappearing out to sea). With ratings rising, Series 3 followed in October 2009. It was set one year after the summer special as the holidaymakers took up the offer of a free holiday given to them by the Solana Resort. The Garveys soon found themselves right in the middle of the action, courtesy of Madge and Mel.
The third series continued the trend of having popular guest stars playing outlandish characters. Robin Askwith, Keith Barron and Una Stubbs made appearances during the episodes.
By the end of Series 3 the show was regularly attracting 6 million viewers and had won two National TV Awards and been nominated for both a BAFTA and a British Comedy Award too.
Series 4 was quickly commissioned, but at this point Benidorm underwent some cast changes. Johnny Vegas (aka The Oracle), Paul Bazely (aka Troy), Hannah Hobley (aka Chantelle), Abigail Cruttenden (aka Abigail), and Nicholas Burns (aka Martin) all left the show.
Plus, as filming was just about to begin on the new Christmas special that would proceed the fourth series, the production was thrown into chaos. Geoffrey Hutchings, who played Mel, passed away suddenly from a suspected viral infection (news story). As result of his untimely death the scripts had to be heavily re-written, and the storyline became that Mel passed away off-screen on a business trip abroad.
A number of new characters were created for Series 4 to fill out the cast list again. Following his guest appearances in Series 3, Tim Healey became a full time cast member as barman Les, with his teenage son Liam (Adam Gillen) tagging along to Benidorm for a cheap holiday. A whiff of a Benidorm holiday romance was soon in the air for Liam, as he took an immediate shine to new girl Natalie (Kathryn Drysdale)... but her friend Sam (Shelley Longworth) has other ideas on their potential romance.
Gavin was given a new holiday companion called Kenneth (Tony Maudsley), with the story being that Troy was at home caring for his sick dad. Plus, Noreen brought her stressed-out daughter Pauline on holiday in place of Geoff. Pauline, having spent the past few years in South Africa with her husband but now going through a messy divorce, is irritable and doesn't make friends easily.
Returning characters for the fourth series included the Garvey family, who start the series embroiled in a typical Garvey holiday disaster. Meanwhile the legendary Middlesbrough Swingers Association lost it's two most popular members for the summer as Benidorm once again welcomed back Donald and Jacqueline.
Hotel staff Mateo and Chrissy continued to watch on through it all as the holiday chaos unfolds around them.
After the fourth series it seemed as if Benidorm might end, as creator Derren Litten said he didn't want to write any more episodes (full story). However, he was convinced to bring the show back for another series with, for the first time, other writers helping out (including cast member Steve Pemberton).
The regular holidaymakers got a shock in Series 5 as the Solana resort was now staffed by a new manager... and she means business! Joyce Temple Savage (Sherrie Hewson) is on a mission to upgrade the Solana resort into a 4 star hotel - at all costs.
Mick, Janice and Michael Garvey all returned to their favourite all inclusive holiday resort, and Madge shocked her family and friends with a surprise announcement. Jacqueline and Donald also returned following Donald's faked death at the end of the last series.
Kenneth is now a Benidorm businessman with his popular new hair salon based at the Solana resort. Gavin comes out to join him on holiday but where was Troy? It seemed as though their relationship might have broken up.
Noreen was back for some sunshine and flying solo without her son for the first time, meanwhile Liam was now the newly employed handyman.
Transsexual Les/Lesley continued to don the latest cutting edge fashions at the Solana tropical bar alongside hunky Mateo, who was still on a mission to woo any female that passes by.
Meanwhile Benidorm good time girl Sam returned with a new friend in tow called Trudy (Michelle Butterly) and they both made it their mission to have a wild holiday.
Series 6 of Benidorm started in January 2014, as the UK was experiencing a period of heavy rain.
A new family was added to the show at this point. They're a lively family from Watford, with Clive (Perry Benson) firmly under the thumb of his no nonsense wife Tonya (Hannah Waddingham). They bring their two children with them, Bianca (Bel Powley) and Tiger (Danny Walters) - both are young, single and looking for fun.
Returning to enjoy the four star hotel treatment were Mick and Janice Garvey and Madge. Plus they brought Michael with them again, who had now grown into an adventurous teenager.
With Michael and Tiger off on trouble-making adventures around the resport, it wasn't long before the Dyke family and Garveys were arguing.
Other favourites returning included popular swingers Donald and Jacqueline who intended to claim their free holiday that Joyce Temple Savage promised them at the end of the last series.
Mateo and Lesley were still working at the hotel, however Liam was now working with Kenneth at his 'Blow & Go' shop - the very discreet and selective hair and beauty emporium within the Solana resort.
Series 6 also saw the return of Martin Weedon, who arrived on a loud and lairy stag do. This time he's very single and finds himself having a 'drunken encounter' with one of the known female holidaymakers.
Guest stars for the latest series include Matthew Kelly returning as Cyril Babcock; Ken Morley playing the Head of a local Hairdressing Mafia; and Phillip Olivier as Jason - a sexy new barman.
The Krankies and Rustie Lee also appeared as friends of swingers Donald and Jacqueline, and legendary Hollywood star Joan Collins arrived as Crystal Hennesy-Vas, the CEO of the Solana Hotel Group.
Benidorm was created by Derren Litten. He says: "After staring blankly at a computer screen for a couple of months I decided to write a sketch about a couple of middle aged swingers. The sketch was set around the swimming pool of an all inclusive Spanish holiday resort and after writing it I decided to imagine who else would be sitting around the pool, where they were from, and how they ended up there. The result was episode one of Benidorm."