7 Questions With… Sandylands star Natalie Dew: It’s a deliciously bonkers escape to seaside nostalgia

We chat to the show's rising star about Gold’s new comedy series Sandylands, meeting cats, working with comedy legends and a Weston-super-Mare heatwave.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 4 March 2020 - 3.41pm
Gold Channel NOW TV

Sandylands

UKTV

Sunshine, sea and Sandylands. Gold’s new surreal seaside comedy carries so much warmth it might finally bring to an end the long British winter.

Packed full of candy floss, fish and chips and an incredible cast including David Walliams, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Craig Parkinson, Hugh Bonneville, Simon Bird and Sophie Thompson, Sandylands is a joyous and original treat.

Newcomer Natalie Dew plays the series lead, Emily Verma, who returns to her neon-lit childhood home, the seaside town of Sandylands, following the disappearance of her father Les Vegas (Bhaskar).

Natalie Dew in Gold channel's new seaside comedy Sandylands UKTV

Emily's homecoming reunites her with the colourful locals of Sandylands including childhood crushes, infamous nightclub owners and oddball B&B owners. Imagine the League of Gentleman, but swap out the dark sinister edges for arcade machines, buckets and spades and sun cream. 

BT TV caught up with Natalie to find out more about the curious world of Sandylands...

1. How would you describe Sandylands?

Natalie Dew and Harriet Webb in Sandylands UKTV

I would say it's a deliciously bonkers escape to a nostalgic seaside town. Wow, I didn't expect it to come out that well! 

It's really funny. Genuinely funny. And even though the characters felt quite heightened, everything felt quite real. I grew up in Devon, so I've been to a lot of seaside villages. The whole sitcom rang so true about certain characters you meet.

2. Was it nerve-racking working with famous names like David Walliams and Hugh Bonneville?

David Walliams as Derek Swallows in Sandylands UKTV

Everyone is just comedy gold. And I didn't expect everyone to be as lovely as they are. I couldn't have asked for a more generous set of people to work with. And because we were working in Weston-super-Mare, it was just like a holiday camp for three weeks. We got to eat loads of candy floss, fish and chips and play in the arcades. It felt like an amazing trip.

Watching anyone eat fish and chips is fascinating. But what's really fun is that it's just amazing how child-like everyone becomes at the seaside. There's not really anything else to do other than just indulge in beach delights and get a bucket and spade.

3. I've never been to Weston-super-Mare - what was it like filming there?

Natalie Dew in Gold channel's new seaside comedy Sandylands UKTV

Ever?! You must. What's it like? It has a huge arcade, filled with slot machines and a haunted house. Everyone is incredibly friendly. And it’s the first place I’ve ever seen anyone using a metal detector on the beach in real life. I didn’t realise they actually existed. I thought it was a person who was part of the set, but they were genuinely just on the beach hunting for gold.

There's something lovely and nostalgic about our seaside and we’re really lucky our coastline is so beautiful and unspoiled. And with places like Weston, they have a real sense of a 'time before' and haven't been impacted by modernisation so much.

4. Emily is a bit snooty about returning to Sandylands. Is that something you could relate to?

Craig Parkinson in Sandylands UKTV

I moved to London when I was 18, so I could totally empathise with that. The idea of ‘wanting to find myself’ in a really eye-rolly way.

I think finding your own identity away from home is something we all do. For Emily, I don’t think she realises how much of her identity there is still at home. I think she's surprised at how open-armed people are, people she hasn't given much thought to.

5. What were your favourite scenes to film?

Simon Bird as Nathan Wild in Sandylands UKTV

“I genuinely couldn't get through a scene with Simon Bird without laughing...It’s quite pathetic really. I giggled like an absolute school girl.”
- Natalie Dew

I genuinely couldn't get through a scene with Simon Bird without laughing. I didn't think there would be anything we could use, it’s quite pathetic really. I giggled like an absolute schoolgirl.

We also filmed scenes in this massive house that was totally empty except a single cat that was living there. So we could just hear it miaow-ing in the background. We got to go look for the cat, find the cat and feed the cat, which was the best day ever for me because I love cats. That was the real highlight for me, meeting a cat that I didn't know.

6. What was the biggest challenge?

It was an actual heatwave in Weston. It was a heat I’ve never experienced apart from on holiday abroad. There was one day where we were sweating buckets it was so hot. 

We had two actors who were dressed as street performers, a man painted gold and a man in a tiger outfit. They did so well, the man in gold especially - his skin couldn’t breathe and he did amazingly. 

7. I loved Emily's #kale T-shirt. Is that one of yours?

Natalie Dew in Gold channel's new seaside comedy Sandylands UKTV

Ha-ha. No, I'm not that bad a person. Jesus. If you saw me in the street actually wearing that you'd wonder, what on earth is that girl wearing. It's not so much the kale, I'm all for kale, it's the hashtag that I have a slight problem with. 

Sadly, none of the great T-shirts that Emily wears are mine. I do love that she's a dreadful vegan as well. She has the branding all over herself and then in every episode she's eating quite a lot of bacon.

Did I take away any of the T-shirts? If I'd known you were going to be so big on the T-shirt, I would have put in a bid for you. What did I keep? I really tried to keep the Doc Martins, but I couldn't get them. I did steal a very small ring with a sea anchor on it as a little token and memory.

Watch Sandylands on Gold, BT TV channel 310, on Wednesday March 4-Friday 6 March at 10pm.

Gold is also available with NOW TV.