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On location at the pool side

... and not just 1 BAFTA but an astonishing 3 (to date) and he's here in Benidorm directing the last 2 episodes in the current series of the ITV hit comedy "Benidorm". Wow, what an honour for me to be able to sit and relax with him after he'd finished a busy days filming - with his trademark moustache which he has had since the age of 19 and only ever shaved off once for a part! The God's weren't looking down favourably today and the weather wasn't typical Spanish sunshine as many are lead to believe. However, Sandy told me that they managed to keep on track and that the afternoon shooting was under the shelter of the pool bar at the Pelicanos aka Solana so the rain didn't affect them too badly!You can try looking hot when cold but unfortunately its rather more difficult trying to look dry when its raining!
Sandy initially studied Art in Glasgow and whilst there got a taste of acting when he appeared  in the 1974 comedy "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" as one of the knights ... people still mention that to him even now he told me. Following that he moved down to London in 1975 and studied directing at the Beaconsfield Film School in Buckinghamshire. He started out directing  for Channel 4, with hits such as "Comic Strip Presents" then moved onto the BBC where he first met actor Tim Healy in Auf Wiedersehen Pet (and now their paths cross again in Benidorm) then  found huge success with the likes of Jonathan Creek for which he won the first of his BAFTA's for Best Drama series and followed that up with 2 more for the British sketch comedy "Harry and Paul" - starring Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. After that he then moved onto ITV and directed mega productions such as "Touch of Frost" starring David Jason and the "Ruth Rendell Mysteries" with George Baker. I must say Sandy has certainly got an impressive resume .... I'd love to get hold of his address book! In between televison he has also directed films - one that sprang to mind was "Soul Survivors" in 95 starring US singer song-songwriter legend Issac Heys (best known for his hit theme from the film Shaft), Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch) and Taurean Blacque (from Hill Street Blues).You see Sandy has also worked with stars from across the Pond! He recalled at the auditions in Georgia that Taurean came in character as a blind man - he had dark glasses and a cane and when he approached Sandy he felt his face like a blind person would and completely and convincingly acted the part - thats the difference Sandy told me - the Americans are very determined to impress at interviews - the Brits are more reserved and laid back. He got a part in the film ... but not as the blind character which he came for!

Me interviewing Sandy

I asked him how he got involved in the Benidorm series and he was introduced to the writter Derren Litten by fellow writter David Renwick - who wrote the Jonathan Creek series that Sandy directed .... its a very incestuous industry as I have found out. As soon as he met Derren he just knew that they would have a great working relationship and so it has proved with a record 5th series nearly in the can. His aim is to try and promote different parts of Benidorm in the episodes where possible - last series they visited the Fonts D'Algar and in the episodes that Sandy is directing  he will take them to the popular Indoor Market, which is virtually next door to the Sol Pelicanos Hotel and also the Medievil Castle (located on the edge of Benidorm next to Albir) for a jousting session - that should prove eventful with those long poles ! Being an artist he draws his own story board and pulled out a script with his visions of how the scene will look .... they were jolly good sketches I must say. Perhaps I should have pinched it and then I could have sold it on Ebay ... damn!
Once filming has finished at the beginning of December Sandy will head back to London for editing then he has various options he is considering. There are two new shows he is looking at or he may head back to South Wales where he was working prior to coming out here directing the Sky comedy "Stella" - written by and starring Ruth Jones ... who played Nessa in "Gavin and Stacy" - and co-incidentally fellow Gavin and Stacy actor James Corden has a guest role in the series (see what I mean about incestuous). Stella is due to air on Sky 1 in January.

Checking over the recording with crew

Sandy is married to one time childrens televison presenter of "Play School" Sheelagh Gilbey ... he told me he first set eyes on her on the televison and knew there and then that she was the one - how lovely .... and with that Sandy had to depart to interview an actor for a prospective part in the last episode he is directing - no I didn't get to see who it was incase you are wondering!

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