■ The Benidorm star, 68, on falling for Shaun Ryder, being wooed by Harrison Ford and why hearing tests are vital
So, how’s your hearing?
I went for a hearing test at Specsavers five years ago but dismissed it. I went back recently and they showed me the graph of the hearing in my left ear from back then. It was quite bad. And then they did a new one and this time the graph was right down. You can’t cure hearing loss but you can help prevent it deteriorating by wearing a hearing aid, which I do now.
How was your mammoth Benidorm tour?
It was nine months going to every city in the UK. I have never experienced anything like it in my 100 years of being an actress. I said to the boys on stage when everyone was screaming and standing up that they’d never experience anything like that again — the love for the show is immense.
Were you sad when the programme was cancelled?
Of course. We’re doing a film next year, which will be fabulous. I know they want to do a second tour. Benidorm will always be alive — it’s like Only Fools. It has a wonderful legacy and I’m thrilled I was part of it.
Why was it cancelled?
Nobody knows why things get cancelled. The last series we were getting five million viewers, which is big ratings these days. There must be a reason but it’s terribly sad because wherever I go, people tell me how much they love it.
Why was it so popular?
It’s quite risqué, which is absolutely as it should be. Comedy shouldn’t be safe, it should be out there. It’s quintessentially British humour. It’s that postcard naughty humour of a girl sitting there in a bikini with everything hanging out. It’s also a very warm show with fabulous characters and lots of silly antics. We had Madness and Bananarama appear on it and everyone would come over and stay on because they loved it so much.
What big names would you want to see in the film?
Holly Johnson appeared on the show and I’d love him to be in the film — he’s my hero. Shaun Ryder is another hero. I did 100 Years Younger In 21 Days with him and we sat in a goat’s milk bath together — not many people can say that. I fell in love with him.
Are you a Happy Mondays fan?
Since meeting Shaun I am. He’s on another tour now. We keep in touch. I know Nigel Havers is another fan so maybe we’ll go to a gig together — what a combination.
Did you stay in touch with anyone from Big Brother?
It was an extraordinary thing to do. I sunbathed all the way through it. I loved Jenna Jameson — she was very straight-talking and fabulous. I was in it until the end. It’s a hard show. I haven’t stayed in touch with any of them.
Was sharing your personal problems on Loose Women therapeutic?
Yes, in those 15 years I did the show I had a divorce, I lost my hair through stress, there were some sad times but those girls really kept me going. I don’t know where I’d have been without them. I owe Loose Women a lot. I miss the camaraderie.
Did you reveal too much about your personal life?
I always remember Carol McGiffin saying, ‘You’re not divorced yet, you’ve been separated for all this time, just get on with it.’ And you say things before you remember everyone is watching. I learned to self-edit a bit.
What are you up to in Sleeping Beauty at Christmas?
I’m the nurse. There’s always a made-up character. She’s a nurse but she’ll be like my Benidorm character, Joyce Temple-Savage, I should imagine. I’ve done around 16 pantos but that’s not a lot. Look at Ch ristopher Biggins — he must have done 50.
Any panto mishaps?
I’ve fallen off a pantomime horse. I’m very accident prone but the kids love it. They all like a fart gag and watching people fall over or their wig fall off. My whole dress fell off once. Something split at the back and I had to try to hold on to it. It was hilarious.
Have you got any unfulfilled career ambitions?
When I was young I did films — I did one with Richard Chamberlain, one with Harrison Ford and a Carry On, which was fantastic. I’d love to do more films and a Harry Potter one. Although JK Rowling would need to write more books first…
What was Harrison Ford like?
I was very young and he was very extraordinary. He wasn’t the huge star then but he was so beautiful. He asked me to go to lunch with him. I was gobsmacked. I bought an outfit I couldn’t really afford and went to an Italian restaurant in Borehamwood. I was terrified. It turned out he’d invited 12 other girls. It was a joke apparently. But I did get to sit next to him, which was good.
■ Hewson is working with Specsavers to help remove the stigma of hearing loss, specsavers.co.uk/hearing