The former Dynasty star, now 80, doesn’t act a lot these days but she was very keen to do Benidorm. For several years there’s been talk of Joan Collins making a guest appearance – in fact, her involvement was one of the carrots dangled by ITV to coax the show’s creator Derren Litten into reviving Benidorm in 2012.
We’re now into series six, and it’s easy to look back over the past few years to spot roles that could have been set up for La Collins, had the filming dates suited.
In the final episode of Benidorm (ITV 13 February), Joan is playing Crystal Hennessy-Vass, “top dog” of the group that owns the Solana Resort. The irony of her character name won’t be lost on Joan’s legions of fans. When she played Alexis Carrington in Dynasty in the 1980s, Krystle was the name of her goody-two-shoes nemesis (played by Linda Evans).
She turns up at the resort with her chauffeur Elvis, one of many cameos that Derren Litten (right) has had over the years. Chain-smoking Crystal is none too pleased with the Solana’s track record under manageress Joyce Temple-Savage, played by Sherrie Hewson for the past two series.
Sherrie already knew Joan well; they have a lot of friends in common and have appeared together three times on Loose Women. “Whenever I’ve met Joan, she’d say, ‘Oh my God, I’m desperate to be in Benidorm!’ So I said I’d mention it…”
Joan’s arrival means that pushy Joyce Temple-Savage finally gets her come-uppance. “I didn’t know she was going to play my boss, which worked out beautifully. She’s the CEO of the company. She lays down the law and poor Joyce gets it in the neck. I get heavily put down.”
Jake Canuso (who plays randy barman Mateo) reveals that Joan Collins’s arrival meant that “the street had to be closed off. We had ten policeman, security guards.” Of all the Benidorm regulars, she only features in scenes with him, Sherrie and Tim Healy, “so we felt very honoured.”
Jake loved working with her. “I get to insult her. Best moment of my life! To get to bitch to Joan Collins!” How did she take it? “She loved it. She was great. She’s such a good sport.” He was a bit wary at first, however. “It’s Joan Collins! At my age you’ve been brought up with her in Dynasty and you think she’s going to be a bitch, but she’s a good sport, very professional, very funny, witty, on it, old school. She tweeted about it and was very excited to be here.”
He says: “She’s a huge fan of the show. Jackie [Collins, her sister] got her into it – two or three years ago she got the DVDs over Christmas and they watched them all.”
Tim Healy (who plays transvestite barman Lesley) says: “I had a great scene with her, yeah. The first person she sees when she comes in the hotel is me, or the back of my head and of course I turn round and I start talking to her about putting me bras on a boil-wash… She was great fun and remarkable for her age.”
Joan was only on set for three days but, says Sherrie, “She’d love to come back. She had a wonderful time out here and loves the show.” Let’s hope it’s not the last we’ll see of Crystal Hennessy-Vass…
Patrick first joined Radio Times as a teenager in the black-and-white days of 1984. A career in journalism led to ES Magazine, Time Out, rival TV guides and Doctor Who Magazine. The Tardis returned him to RT in 2005, since when he’s been reviewing Nordic noir and Sicilian vice, saucy sitcoms, the BBC Proms and the further adventures of the Time Lord. He lives in the Smoke but prefers a sea breeze.