“God I’ve missed this place,” said Troy, gazing out over the bay as he and his gay friend Kenneth prepared to help Jacqueline scatter the ashes of her swinging Scottish husband Donald over Benidorm from an oversized blue urn with the help of an amateur wind machine.
That folks is Benidorm in a nutshell and the show marked its 50th episode with a brilliantly bonkers return to form. Armed with a new family and with the help of some much-loved returning characters, this was the show going back to what it does best – real characters, innuendo aplenty and outlandish comedy moments.
The show has struggled in recent years and lost its way following the sad death of Geoffrey Hutchings who played the fantastic Mel Harvey. Characters such as Sam & Natalie, weird Welshman Glynn and the horrendous Dyke family simply didn’t work while the favourite original characters drifted out of the show. Chantelle, Martin & Katie, Troy & Gavin and many more have all come and gone while the much-loved Garvey family steadily broke apart until their removal from the show. It had lost its charm and the edge that it had in those brilliant early series.
But, if the first episode of series eight is anything to go by, the magic has returned. New family The Dawsons have similar traits to the Garveys and seem to be a return to a normal family with real problems, which makes them an ideal blank canvas for comedy. Troy has returned, sadly without Gavin, bringing back some of the original feel, while regulars Joyce Temple-Savage, Lesley, Jacqueline and Kenneth were all on top form. Throw in the fact that The Oracle, his mother Noreen and sister Pauline are all still to come later in the series, and season eight has the potential to be one of Benidorm’s best.
Benidorm was a roaring success in its early series and that was built on a batch of strong characters and the simplicity of showing life on holiday in the Spanish resort. After three or four series of struggles, a revolving door of also-ran characters and a general cheapening of the show, this was a refreshing return to its roots and an episode that has raised expectations for a terrific series.