From the sunny Spanish set of Benidorm, Tim Healy reveals the joys, and pitfalls, of portraying Les/Lesley in the hit ITV1 comedy... You've become a regular cast member this series – how is life in drag? "I'm really enjoying the part and I'm chuffed to be back. I've tried to incorporate some of my heroes in Lesley. There's a bit of Tommy Cooper in there and the other one I've drawn from is Les Dawson. The thing with Les/Lesley is that he's basically the same person whatever he's wearing." We meet his son Liam this series, how would you describe their relationship? "Liam's quite a placid lad and I don't think his dad's dressing up bothers him. It's lovely they have a bit of time to do some father-son bonding." You dress up as Lady Gaga and sing Poker Face at the karaoke in this week's episode – how was that? "I had so many laughs. I'm dressed up in a wonderful costume and I look just like Lady Gaga, but with the body and the head of an old bloke. It looks wrong on many levels I'm sure, but hopefully it will be funny because I've put the work in. I've watched her videos and I've copied some of her dance moves as well – oh, you're in for a treat! Later, I also sing Man I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain." Les/Lesley and Mateo make an unlikely poolside double act – how are they getting on? "They are opposites because Mateo is lazy and wants to make minimal effort, whereas Lesley loves doing that bar job. The final straw for Mateo comes when Les suggests they start waiting at tables because it means he'd have to work harder." How is it serving drinks on roller-skates? "I sometimes have to dress up as a Martini waitress and start serving drinks around the pool on roller-skates and there were a few mishaps. There's a couple of outtakes where I totally lost control and went crashing into Steve [Pemberton] with a tray of drinks and it took us about half an hour to stop laughing. I could skate alright, it was the stopping that proved to be a problem!" What's the worst thing about playing Les/Lesley? "The uncomfy shoes. I don't know how women can bear it. I take my hat off to them for wearing them, I really do!" Benidorm continues on Friday March 4 at 9pm on ITV1.
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.