I can’t remember if I have said this before (what I’ve thought about and what I’ve actually written has, after over hundred posts, blurred into one) but I am often intrigued by the gap between a shows ratings and its critical acclaim. This gap seems especially big in comedy. Take, for example, the fact that Mrs Brown’s Boys is a massive hit yet is greeted with disdain by tastemakers, whilst The Detectorists is critically adored but is not even a blip on most people’s horizon.

Benidorm falls sharply in the first category. It is often dismissed as crude, coarse, clichéd and full of stereotypes. Yet it garners healthy ratings and is nominated for, and sometimes wins, awards that are voted for by the public.

I must admit, I personally have a guilty liking for it. A lot of it isn’t to my taste – I veer away from toilet humour where possible and the charge of stereotyping isn’t without foundation – but I somehow still manage to enjoy most of it. It’s silly, knock-about fun and skewers the image of the ‘Brit abroad’ quite well. It is also impressive that the show has quite a large cast yet manages to stay broadly coherent.

That’s not to say that I don’t feel it is on a general downward slope. A lot of the new characters aren’t that likeable, or that new. Take Joey, Tiger’s new best mate. The show has done dim-witted characters before, and they haven’t given enough of a new take on it to make the character worthwhile.

Likewise, I can’t warm to the Dawson’s. The grandad, is quite frankly, minus any of the redeeming features that other monsters of the show had (at least Madge Garvey had enough of a sharp tongue to elevate her character). The daughter is equally annoying. I have some sympathy with Julie Graham’s role as the mum, but feel that she is being reduced to just someone who butts heads with the rest of the family. Only the teenage son seems to be a fully functioning human being, and he’s been shoved to the periphery.

Thankfully, there are bright spots. The Oracle and his mum are back, and early signs are that they are going to be as good as ever. Noreen could teach Joey about how to pull off dim-witted but loveable. Jacqueline the swinger is also present, although being minus Donald is a real shame. Their stories of Big Donna and the Middlesbrough Swinger’s Association lack something with only one person to tell them.

Personally, I would make this the last series if I was ITV, if only to preserve what is good about it. It has a fan base and proven the critics wrong. The best stories have been told. It has nothing left to prove. But maybe that’s the thing with shows like Benidorm. They never end because they had nothing to prove in the first place.

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