Claire Sweeney wrote letter to Benidorm writer to ask for her part in ITV show

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Claire Sweeney may be known as Lindsey Corkhill from Channel 4's Brookside, but she also appeared on ITV's Benidorm, back in 2018.

15 years after the comedy series first appeared on screens, the veteran actress and television personality opened up to Daily Star about how she managed to land a role in the final episode.

Four years ago, ITV made the decision to quietly axe the series with sources at the time claiming bosses believed it had "run its course".

Despite this, Claire was determined to make an appearance on the show that heavily featured a cast of northern actors.

The 50-year-old told me: "I'd been a fan of the show for years, I was a massive fan and I think Derren Litten (writer and creator) is brilliant, he's a genius.

"I always wanted to be in it and I was working with Tony Maudsley who played Kenneth in it."

Explaining how she landed the part of airport worker Maxine, she explained: "I wrote a letter to Derren saying 'I'd love to be in it' and then I got offered a part.

"It was only the one episode, it was the last series and I was just thrilled to go out there and be part of it and it was such a wonderful character as well.

"He's just brilliant at painting these characters."

During her brief stint, the Walton, Liverpool born actress finally came face to face with her on-screen auntie, Doreen Corkhill (played by Kate Fitzgerald) from Brookside.

Despite the pair playing members of the same family, they never met during their stints on Brookside.

Claire joked: "We were both saying how funny it was that we'd never met and we spoke very fondly of John McArdle (who played Billy Corkhill) and Dean Sullivan (played Jimmy Corkhill).

"She was fantastic in it, I was thrilled to be in it with Bobby Ball and Holly Johnson, I was fangirling because Frankie Goes To Hollywood is so fantastic, I grew up listening to Relax and then to meeting him and spending time with him in Benidorm, he was so lovely."

The actress who is proud of her Liverpudlian heritage had previously opened up to me about becoming friends with Cilla Black having been a fan growing up.

She said: "I was a massive fan [of Cilla], every Saturday night when I was going to gigs to sing or going out, it was a ritual, Blind Date was on tele, you'd put your make up on to Blind Date.

"So, you know years later I got to know her and I hung out with her in Barbados and stuff and you know, she's just a legend."

The ex-Loose Women star added: "That woman's career was fantastic and people, until Sheridan [Smith] did the drama [ITV’s Cilla], people forgot what a great singer she is.

"She was a really fine singer and people just remember the latter years and taking the mickey. That woman could sing, the notes she could get were just phenomenal."

Recalling an intimate conversation with Cilla, Claire told us: "I remember in Barbados – I used to sing one of her songs in like a musical – and I used to say: 'How did you get that top belt?'

"She said: 'Oh I didn't know what I was doing, I just did it, I didn't have a clue', she was just a naturally gifted singer."

Claire is currently starring in Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 The Musical as Violet with shows across the country.

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