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The Truth About Benny Hill

by Andrew Collins
21 October 2011 42 Comments

He was Britain’s greatest comic export. In 1990, The Benny Hill Show was on in 97 countries around the world, although not, ironically, the UK, and his famous fans included Michael Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and Charlie Chaplin. Now, almost a decade after his death, discover the surprising truth behind about the comedian including his penchant for prostitutes, addiction to amphetamines and reluctance to spend a penny of his £7.5million fortune.

Benny Hill died watching Teletext. It was what he would’ve wanted.

On Easter Monday, April 20, 1992, his body was discovered slumped peacefully on the sofa in his pokey, rented Teddington flat, two empty dinner plates to his right, two of his weight-watching low-cal drinks to the left, £300 in cash turfed out of his pockets, specs on, shoes and socks off, shirt undone. “Benny was looking quite smart for a change,” observed Dennis Kirkland, lifelong friend and producer.

He’d died of a second heart attack, very probably connected to over-eating. In the words of Benny’s autobiographical Number One hit Ernie, you might say “a rock cake caught him underneath the heart”.

He left £7,548,192. Unfortunately, because he’d failed to amend a will prepared in 1961 whose only beneficiaries – his mum, dad, brother Leonard, and sister Diana – were now all dead, the mountain of Hill cash went to seven nieces and nephews he hardly knew. This was not what he would’ve wanted.

They called him Britain’s greatest television comedian. He was without a doubt our greatest comic export (in 1990, The Benny Hill Show was on in 97 countries around the world, although not, ironically, the UK, because Benny was sacked from Thames TV in 1989), and his famous fans included Michael Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and Charlie Chaplin. Though he couldn’t even bring himself to utter what he called “the dirty female c-word”, he was haunted by spurious tabloid accusations of impropriety and eccentricity (“I WAS BENNY HILL’S LOVE SLAVE”, News Of The World, 1985). And he died alone, one kidney less than he was born with, and, as Kirkland puts it, “so much laughter yet to give”.

What a shame he never married, eh?

Born Alfred Hawthorne Hill in Southampton on January 21, 1924, they called him “Alfie”, and he drove the fastest milk cart in the South.

Showbiz was in the family’s blood: his dad, Alfred, and grandfather, Henry, had been circus clowns (although they both went legit in later life, dad as the manager of a surgical appliances shop, granddad a totally unqualified dentist), but young Alfie’s first job out of school aged 15 was as a weighbridge clerk at the Phoenix Coal And Coke Company, then on to Woolworth’s as a stockroom boy (low point: cleaning up dogshit in the store). A brief spell filling in as a comedy vicar for six shows with a troupe called Bobbie’s Concert Party whetted his greasepaint glands, but this was to be little more than a false start, so, against his stern father’s wishes, he really did become a milkman, and really did ride a horse-drawn cart around Eastleigh. (One co-worker, who ended up staying with Hann & Son’s Dairy for 42 years, was called Ernie Carrington – join the dots yourself.)

At night, he played guitar and did the odd comic interlude for Ivy Lillywhite & Her Friends, and the experience was sufficient to inspire him to pack a cardboard suitcase, gather up his £25 “life savings”, and decamp to London. As Dennis Kirkland puts it so dramatically in his over-fond 1992 book Benny: The True Story, “a world war, closing theatres and hostile audiences were just around the corner, but nothing was going to stand in the way of his rise to stardom.”

Renaming himself Benny after US comic Jack Benny (“Alfie Hill sounds like a cheap barrow boy,” he decided), the 17-year-old wannabe endured what has now become a clichéd showbiz apprenticeship: traipsing around long-gone music halls, kipping in concrete air-raid shelters on Streatham Common, doing his Cagney impression for London impresario Harry Benet and becoming Assistant Stage Manager (“a glorified errand boy”) at the East Ham Palace in a show called Follow The Fun for £3 and 10 shillings a week, then joining a touring revue, Send Him Victorious. Because he was on the road, Benny’s call-up papers failed to reach him, and he was chucked into a police cell when the authorities finally tracked him down at Cardiff’s New Theatre (“I was treated like a criminal,” he said). Though innocent of any draft-dodging deception, an armed guard duly escorted him to camp at Catterick in Yorkshire, fuelling a lifelong fear of authority.

He was haunted by spurious tabloid accusations of impropriety and eccentricity

Private Hill 14332308 joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a driver/mechanic. A rotten mechanic and a useless driver, it was his natural gift for foreign languages that carried him through when his unit were packed off to Dunkirk after D-Day. Ironically, in light of later weight problems, Benny was too fit to audition for concert parties during hostilities, so when the fighting stopped, he wasted no time in auditioning for the army’s Central Pool of Artists (Stars In Battledress) and began touring army bases in musical revues with such innocuous, squaddie-unfriendly names as Happy Weekend and It’s All In Fun.

In 1947, Benny was de-mobbed, and went back to theatreland, this time with £50 in his pocket, and moved into a flat off London’s Bayswater Road with three girls. Wahey! Cue: the 23-year-old Benny Hill chasing his flatmates around the kitchen in their underwear. Not quite. Kirkland notes, “Benny, for once in his life, was not interested in women, he had little money and even less time. All he wanted to do was break into the showbusiness bigtime.”

All work and no play made Ben a dull boy. But was he turning gay? Before the war, he’d done a show with some gay dancers who’d asked him outright if he was “queer”. Not understanding the question, he replied, “Not really, but I’ve got my funny little ways . . .”

In a routine on telly in 1974, Benny played a West Country village idiot type who, typically, spoke in rhyming couplets: “Dad says, it’s time that you got wed/I said I’d rather drop down dead.”

In real life his sex life was always a sketchy, speculative area, and conjecture was high that he was either a closet homosexual or some marauding devotee of the dirty mac. In the 20-odd years that Kirkland knew Benny, he didn’t have one serious girlfriend, offering the explanation that women wanted to mother him, “maybe give him a cuddle and laugh at his jokes, but they didn’t very often want to sleep with him”. Benny often took ladyfriends away with him on foreign trips, but they were usually disappointed that his idea of a perfect night in Paris would involve sitting in the hotel room watching French TV in search of comedy ideas.

“A world war, closing theatres and hostile audiences were just around the corner, but nothing was going to stand in the way of his rise to stardom.”

In his 1992 book Star Turns, the twin tale of Benny Hill and Frankie Howerd (both men died within hours of each other), veteran comedy writer Barry Took notes: “[The war] was a time when love of the human, not to say carnal, side of life was revealed to the young soldier.” He later asserts that “he had simple, even schoolboyish, sexual needs.” Although Benny never confirmed or denied it, the insinuation here is that he was a sucker for prostitutes. The author notes that in later life, Benny’s travels would repeatedly take him to places like Hamburg, Marseilles, Bangkok and Tokyo, “all of them noted for the number and ingenuity of the local ladies and gentlemen of easy virtue. Had he wished, he could’ve led a fully-extended sex life to the benefit of all concerned.”

In case you’re interested, Benny preferred his women small and dark, not blonde and bosomy. When shooting the only show he ever made especially for American TV, The World Of Benny Hill, the producer Don Taffner, a New Yorker who’d marketed Thames TV’s programmes in the States since 1968, lined up an audition room full of likely looking lasses with “the most enormous boobs we had ever seen” (Kirkland). The casting director said to Benny, “Your kind of girls, eh?” Nope. They were sent away, in favour of ladies who were “normally built”.

Benny’s TV persona, imprinted on public consciousness over 40 years, was that of a sexually incorrigible, impish ladies’ man, an ogler, an incompetent. In reality, he was shy and continually disappointed by sex. A meticulous professional, and incredibly innovative in his early TV work (consider his ground-breaking split-screen parodies of What’s My Line and Juke Box Jury in which he played all the panelists at a time of televisual infancy), he has been often dismissed as an unsophisticated clown – indeed, in the mid-80s Ben Elton famously led the charge that Benny’s continued trade in seaside postcard smut was making it unsafe for women to walk the streets.

His myth is a complex one alright. Accounts of the private Benny Hill are of a gentle, generous fellow. The Daily Star called him “Mr Mean”, after not uncommon sightings in Teddington of a distinctly un-showbizzy-looking Benny poring over tins of food in a supermarket, and trudging home with plastic bags. This is where his reputation as a recluse comes from, and yet, he was probably checking the food for fat content and calorie-count during a dietary period, and the carrier-bag man is simply one who eschewed the trappings of wealth, and preferred to live alone, no staff, no personal assistant, no gardener (no garden). A cleaning lady, Lynne, was “barely tolerated”, and ordered not to move anything. In effect, she cleared around his mess.

“A slob at home”, according to pal Kirkland, his apartment at Fairwater House was characterised by an unmade bed, dirty dishes, and heaps of paper everywhere (Benny was a constant scribbler of ideas on the backs of fag packets and napkins, and frequently submitted TV scripts scrawled on the cardboard inserts you get with hotel-laundered shirts). This was not a place you might invite young ladies back to.

Kirkland would say, “Why do you throw all your clothes on the floor?” Hill would reply, “Because they won’t stick to the ceiling.”

TV Times once set up an “at home” photograph of Benny with dolly-dancers Hill’s Angels at his previous residence, a flat in Queens Gate, London, and the stylists had to literally deck the living room out with new furniture, pictures and ornaments, so it would look “lived in” (he barely used the room). Once the shoot was over, he insisted the Angels took anything they wanted. This was in the late 70s. He still had a black and white TV.

A straight man at home, Benny Hill’s first big break after the war was as a straight man on stage – to Reg Varney, later the turtle-necked star of On The Buses. The revue was called, prophetically, Gaytime. Varney and Hill worked the boards together for two successful years, until a particularly Northern audience in Sunderland slow-handclapped his solo spot, and, devastated, he quit. Instead of finishing him off, it made him even more determined to succeed, and the booking had at least hooked him up with uber-agent Richard Stone, with whom he would loyally stick until his death.

In the 50s, Benny’s eventual, unstoppable rise to fame began – not onstage at the Cliftonville Lido, but on telly. Only one in 20 households had a set in 1950, but Benny saw the fuzzy box’s potential for comedy, and hibernated in dirt-cheap London digs to write sketches for TV, longhand. Forty of these skits under his arm, he accosted BBC Head Of Light Entertainment, Ronnie Waldman, and a star was effectively born.

The double-entendres were there from the start, and Benny soon earned a “ribald reputation”. In 1952, compering The Centre Show (filmed at the Nuffield Centre servicemen’s club), he ran into trouble with a gag involving the football pools and Scotland Yard’s well-known phone number, Whitehall 1212: “A football coupon was lost last night in Chelsea. Will anyone who finds it please contact Scotland Yard, telephone Whitehall home-away, home-away.” A home win was worth one point, an away win two points – geddit? The services entertainment unit, Department AG3 didn’t. They thought he’d said “Homo-way, homo-way”, thereby insinuating that Whitehall was full of homosexuals, and – the TFI Friday of its day – the show’s script was thenceforth checked and censored for such offensive fripperies.

By the time of his next TV engagement, hosting Showtime, Benny was earning £300 a week (the national average age was £10); his rent was £3 a week. The Benny Hill Show came in 1955, and, even though the Daily Mirror initially deemed it “patchy and lacking cohesion”, it soon picked up, and Benny was suddenly a Royal Variety Show kinda guy, getting film offers (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Italian Job), doing Schweppes commercials, and being poached by the toddler ITV in 1969, where he stayed for 20 years.

TV success meant he could jack in the live performance altogether. “He made no secret of his hatred for live theatre,” recalls Dennis Kirkland, “It made him sweat; literally shake with nerves”. He turned down chat show after chat show (from Parkinson to Johnny Carson), and only appeared at a glittering showbiz tribute to the late Eric Morecambe thanks to a schoolteacher sketch that involved him reading from a book.

It was not nerves, but fear of flab that led Benny Hill to start popping amphetamines in the early 70s, prescribed as appetite-depressants. The effects of his out-of-control speed habit characterised location filming in the early 70s, where the lure of the catering truck would have Benny gobbling the pills at seven in the morning and “running at 400mph”, as Kirkland unhappily remembers it. In 1976, he had his kidney out (“the tumour was benign, it used to smile a lot,” he joked), and it’s likely this was as a result of liquid retention caused by the speed.

And we all thought those chase sequences at the end of The Benny Hill Show were done with a speeded-up camera.

Nicking all the cakes during tea breaks and pretending to wander off, deep in thought, while he scoffed them all is not a happy image of Benny Hill to take away with us. He was only 16 and a half stone (his brother Leonard was 23 and a half when he died), but the belly which made him our “cuddly, lovable, roly-poly funnyman” bothered him greatly. This did not sit well with his love of fine food and fancy restaurants (“I have plenty of will power, but not a lot of won’t power”). Incidentally, there was no disorder to his eating: his habit was to methodically consume each item on his plate individually – all the mushrooms first, then the spuds, then the steak and so on.

Another unhappy image is that of the dirty old man in the dock. In October 1985, former Page Three girl Stefanie Martin, 35, kissed and told to the News Of The World, accusing Benny of forcing her to “perform” while he pleasured himself (“He undressed me, and then stripped to his underpants, he looked like a white whale”). This continued, on the promise of a speaking part in his show, for six years. He didn’t exactly deny it, simply saying, “It wasn’t the way she made it sound at all”. One Hill’s Angel, Nikki Critcher, claimed she had to slap his face when he squeezed her breasts really hard in a rehearsal. Kirkland leaps to his defence: “Benny was not someone who touched other people much.”

And yet, he touched millions. What the Daily Mail persists in referring to as “political correctness” – but which I prefer simply to think of as the new enlightenment – made his “funny little ways” obsolete in the late 80s. In dying in 1992, he at least spared us the all-new Benny Hill Show proposed by Central. It would never have played. Either his seaside postcard sexism would have required neutering, or it would have been exposed in the cold, hard light of social progress as lecherous, dangerous and moribund.

Back in 1974, three doctors salivating as a female patient undressed was funny, but not any more, despite the best efforts of Nuts and Zoo to turn back the clock. I’m selfishly glad I was able to enjoy Benny Hill when I was young and guileless and apolitical and the world was a more innocent place, but – like punk rock, 9/11 and Hitler – he could never happen again.

Interviewer: “You lived life with a big L.”

Benny: “And sometimes I suffered pain with a big P . . .”


What people said about Benny Hill . . .

“The funniest comedian in the world. My all-time hero.” Michael Jackson

“I only want to do two things: I want to sing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and I want to go to a Benny Hill rehearsal.” Frank Sinatra

“He is huge in Australia. Everything stopped in our house for Benny Hill.” Jason Donovan

“He looks like he’d goose his own grandmother.” Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times

“There’s only one Benny Hill.” Burt Reynolds

“He has a face like an evil cherub — a cherub sent by the Devil.” Michael Caine


Some rum Benny Hill lines

As Tommy Tupper, chat show host: “Did you hear about the actress who was so dumb, she couldn’t count to two without taking off her blouse?”

As Mr Chow Mein, comedy Chinaman, going through British Immigration: “I have my beliefs.”

Immigration Officer: “Ah, your beliefs. Buddha.”

Chow Mein: “No! No Buddha, no sugar. Just my beliefs!” (He holds up his briefs)

Singing mock-’60s ballad, My Garden Of Love: “There’s beetroot for the day you said you’d be-true-to me/And a sweet pea for the sweet way you always used to . . . smile at me.”

Fashion Designer Marie Quaint: “Wouldn’t you men like to see your wife in something long and flowing?”

Jeremy Renault MP: “Yes, a river.”

As Mervin, hellraising stage actor: “They were practising witchcraft, and not just lady witches, they had men witches . . .”

Interviewer: “Warlocks.”

Mervin: “It’s true, I tell you!”

Reading from showbiz diary: “Went to showbiz party. Met Jim Davidson, a fine comedian and a gentleman. Talked to all three of them.”


Benny’s supporting cast


Ubiquitous stooge, he of the constantly-slapped noggin, this Belfast-born former trombonist was Benny’s whipping boy for 25 years. Died, aged 83, in 1989 (he quit the show, due to ill-health in ’83, but old footage was edited in).


Former straight actor, he appeared in Softly Softly, and turned to comedy as Charlie Drake’s straight man, going on to work with Benny for 22 years. Even stooged for the Honey Monster in Sugar Puffs ads. Still a bachelor, living in Fulham.


“Toddy” had no showbiz training, and was a farmer when Benny gave him a tryout. He stayed for 20 years. Scouse indie-pranksters Half Man Half Biscuit immortalised him in song in 1986 with Ninety Per Cent Of All Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd.


Amorphous singing-dancing dollybird collective replacing Dee Dee Wilde and her Troupe, inspired by Kenny Everett’s Hot Gossip. Benny used to audition the girls at his Queens Gate flat. Notables: Louise English, Lorraine Doyle, Jenny Westbrook.


Far and away the most famous Angel (Benny’s favourite: “Sue is pretty and she is funny”), Upton appeared in umpteen sketches, the show’s female lead after Jenny Lee Wright’s departure. Her family would invite Benny round for Christmas (he never came).

The Theme Tune

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

marklj 2:08 am, 29-May-2010

"warlocks" "its true i tell you" that stuff never gets usual mr collins writing serves as a nice 'aide memoire' for my own recollections of the late benny hill. i too am glad i saw his shows in context rather than in retrospect. more writing like this please

Tanya Jones 1:48 pm, 3-Jun-2010

Tracey Ullman appeared as a dancer in one of the summer specials Benny did back in the 70s. She recalls that Benny told her that she should go into comedy, but that she asked him exactly how she could, seeing as she was flat-chested and not particuarly pretty. Benny seems to not been aware that he was part of the problem. It's a shame he abandoned his clever early work in favour of tit jokes, because that's all he's remembered for now. I don't have anything against tit jokes as such, but when there's nothing else, it gets depressing.

Lancehenrikson 9:11 am, 18-Jun-2010

The 'long and flowing' gag is genius. If Brendon Burns had come out with it with added venom, pychosis and sweary bits, it would be seen as edgy. Hill was a master comedian - and veerything needs to be seen in context. Take someone like Doug Stanhope out of context of both his era and his persona and it's essentially the ravings of an unpleasant misanthrope. Despite the smut and seaside postcard witterings, he should be seen as a national treasure (in a similar way to Eric Morecombe) not as a dirty little secret. The sad fact is that his brand of humour died even before he did but the Davidson one-liner proves just what a great comic he was. And who doesn't laugh at a small bald man being slapped on the head? Minus the of-its-time racism (the Chineseman was cringe worthy even then), Benny Hill could be seen as the comedic forefather of his surnamesake Harry. Or maybe my childhood memories of scantily clad women being chased by tubby men are still too rosy. And his stripping down to nothing sketch is pure comic brilliance.

Chris Donald 10:55 pm, 20-Sep-2010

Very enjoyable. Thank you. Incidentally, my dad was a milkman, and his given name was Ernie, in the 1930s.

Clark Gwent 8:41 am, 21-Sep-2010

Splendid. But Jane Leeves, the psychic physio Daphne Moon/Crane of "Frazier" fame, is surely the most famous ex-Hill's Angel. Wonder if she was ever "nice to Uncle Benny"?

gayle 12:38 am, 27-Jan-2011

I spent a few years at the tail end of the 80's dossing around Europe.. Each time I mentioned my nationality people would say. 'o Benny 'Ill' . which I found rather strange, since he was from a remote and distant past to my thinking. Same thing applies now with ' oo, Misterr Bean'...

Simon Martin 8:26 pm, 26-Apr-2011

I never found him funny, not one bit. Fucking awful if I'm honest. ITV at it's worst. If Michael Jackson liked him then count me out.

Terry Dixon 8:57 pm, 26-Apr-2011

He was innovative in the 60s (as fore-mentioned Juke Box Dury and the Best of Benny Hill 70s film show this) but by the 80s it looked cheap and was no longer funny. Just wonering when this article was written as Dennis Kirkland and Henry McGee are now dead?

Mungo 5:12 am, 30-Jul-2011

in the US we only see the clips pieced together, not the whole program. I think Benny's monologues are very boring, I always mute the TV then. Actually I think they should cut the episodes to just the dancers. They were by far the best part of the show. And definately cut the parts with the kids.

Jane Garcia 10:12 pm, 21-Oct-2011

I was surprised to read that Benny Hill wasn't gay. My mother used to say, "You can tell by the eyes", whatever that meant. She thought Benny had "the eyes" but it seems hers was not a foolproof method of "telling." I worked with Bob Todd on "Q9" in 1979. He was pissed by 10.30am every day. He hated Benny Hill.

Dave Barking 7:01 pm, 25-Oct-2011

Benny Hill .. Mr Bean .. and Norman Wisdom in Albania .. some things are just beyond my ken!

S.P. 2:22 am, 23-Dec-2012

Benny Hill was my favorite comedian. Those above that say they hate him or he's not funny, they definitely are weirdos and sad persons with no sense of humor themselves. English people should be proud of him. In so many decades, there is still no other like him around, not even close. He always made us happier. Pity he left this world too soon.

ALLAN 1:13 am, 29-Jan-2013

I( would like a T.V. Show to be made about Benny Hill how he becamse a T.V.Star no need to delve into his personal life. Get actors and actresses to play the people most important to him in his career. I hope any T.V. producer or anyone working in T.V. may proceed with my hopes.

Davnkatz 6:58 am, 12-Feb-2013

My "new" wife and I discovered Benny Hill by accident just a couple of years before I retired from the army. Not too much - back then and now - made me laugh, but Benny did. Being tantalized by Hill's Angels (esp. Louise English and Sue Upton) had additional benefits for us. Toward the end, many of his verbal and sight jokes were repeated so often that they lost their punch. I still watch re-runs when they can be found and my videos from time-to-time. The only sketches hard to watch are the kiddies. I do understand why BH started featuring he had no kids of his own and he loved children. However, this OM can only handle so much "cute" at a time. Sure am glad I got to watch his showsduring the peake of his popularity.

Cintia Irupe 9:52 pm, 11-Aug-2013

I live by the rule that everyone's entitled to their opinion and here is mine. Benny Hill was a brilliant comedian & entertainer , a tad sexist but I adored his show. As for Simon Martin's comments, crickey, I have yet to read words that conjure up quite such a spontaneous & immediate picture of psychological misery in my mind.

Ariel Rodriguez 2:03 am, 11-Sep-2013

Benny Hill was and is by far my favorite comedian of all. Everytime I'm feeling down Benny still makes me forget my troubles. Ive been watching his shows all my life and it never gets tiring. Rest in peace Benny, the worlds a better place since you've been in it.

Dave 3:48 am, 24-Sep-2013

Grew up watching Benny Hill and absolutely loved him. Much better than the American crap they try to pass off as comedy.

TINA 4:20 am, 8-Dec-2013


TINA 4:22 am, 8-Dec-2013


ian lovat 11:24 am, 9-Jan-2014

Benny Hill was a perfectionist who devoted his life in exploiting the medium of television, to present the humorous side of almost every daily boy/girl situation imaginable; and a lot more sitcoms after that! The dancers and the choreography were fabulous: the costumes and sketches expanded across every race, and creed. He travelled a lot, watched people in exotic locations and understood the funny side of human nature very well. He got the chop from his Television Company in 1989, because the shows were expensive to create, ratings were down, and it was considered no longer appropriate, politically correct, or funny, for old men to be chasing young scantily clad women around public parks.

Larisa Crewdson 4:14 pm, 16-Jan-2014

They didn't like him because he was very talented person. So what can tv offer us now just rubbish x factor or Simon Cowell all day long, 'very talented'. Now you can find more politics in the shows instead of real humour.

Bob 4:21 am, 6-Mar-2014

He was just funny. RIP Benny, and thanks.

Marion conlrpey 3:35 pm, 9-Mar-2014

Benny was the greatest love the fastest milkman in the west

Mb 5:29 pm, 24-Apr-2014

Lenny henry is da best!

Brian 12:27 am, 1-May-2014

I grew up watching Benny. So funny and different to the existing "comedy" of the time. Life would have been a little bit duller without Ben.

Neil 11:41 pm, 4-May-2014

There was a turnip for the way you used to turn up late/ A melon for the melancholy way I used to wait/A chilli for how I felt while I waited for you/And a marrow to remind me of what I was frozen too! ("Broken Hearted Lover's Stew"). Benny's wordplay was always gold. See his impression of Pam Ayres the poet if you can, it's on one of his 1976 shows.

shikira pressley 12:02 pm, 17-May-2014

television entertainment in the so - called swinging 'black out years': all (primarily) geared towards youth audiences in the UK. Benny Hill's presence came in at the right time when women's quest for free-self expression; self-determination and sexual liberation at the fore of 1968 - 1975 female first revolution. However, very few western women were truly free at all, and the greater many stuck at kitchen sinks etc., a definitive reality. Social inequalities often meant that the less-freer woman would have felt Benny Hill's risqué humour, acutely intolerable, as well as those devoutly committed to institutional social norms and constraint as was very much the case in those days. I barely recall Benny Hill as I was born in 1973, yet recall him in the early 1980's at the height of his career when female sexual liberation overtaken by go - getting yuppie careerists. My own understanding of Benny's humour was that he was a naughty child; toying and teasing girls to gain their approval/affections - this, perhaps his sole intention to raise awareness amongst the sexes of sexual immaturity? still quite a prevalent social taboo even by 1985! - It has only been within the second decade of the 21st century that we can openly debate and discuss sexual health in the wider masses, yet certainly not in the 1960's - 1980's. It is within the context of those swinging 'black out years': 1965 - 1975 at least, that my mother's generation deplored such a comic genius, precisely because Benny celebrated the 'free-woman' who did not appear trapped by body hang-up's; money worries, child - rearing duties as they chased him as much he chased them up and down common lands. This in my view, where the resentment emerges in those who often misunderstood his on-screen role and character.

Al Freeman 9:20 pm, 6-Jul-2014

Benny Hill was incmparable GENIUS,because in everythig he did in every scetch, he spoke to us from the level of man's subconciousness. Men can lie, pretend, play a prude, but Benny brought it all out - we worship young, beautiful, well-bilt, feminine women. One of the best comedients in the world!

Randy Codd 8:37 am, 9-Aug-2014

My Shirika, thank you for your "wordy" response. It's like reading the IRS code book on the latest changes that have taken place. You obviously are well read but by your own admission, you weren't born until 1973. If I'm not mistaken, The Benny Hill Show was in syndicated re runs then. I've re read your comments 3 times and I'm still not clear on your point. Benny's comedy genius wasn't for everyone. I liken it to the three stooges form of slapstick. Some like it and some don't. The fact remains that both the stooges and Benny Hill were geniuses in their own time. RIP Benny

Orson Buggy 1:45 pm, 13-Aug-2014

He was funny.

Geoff Bairstow 6:51 pm, 25-Aug-2014

I will repeat the comment I made earlier which seems to have been disappeared.I find the comment by your writer that like punk rock,9/11 and Adolph Hitler BH could never happen again extremely nasty and far more obnoxious than anything BH ever did or said.Whether you like BH's sense of humour or not,and all humour is subjective,the nastiness of that observation shows the writer has no sense of humour at all.

Dave McCormick 12:36 am, 8-Nov-2014

In. 1985 I submitted a number of gags. For Benny. He took the trouble to phone and thank me.. A few days later a cheque arrived at my home for. £50.00 . And. to think he had a reputation for being mean !

MaryR 12:11 am, 13-Nov-2014

Well I happen to know for sure that he was gay: he ran off with my (then married) uncle, back in the late 1950s when he was just an act at the end of the pier.

Uncle G 12:37 pm, 13-Nov-2014

Always liked Benny Hill. Always hated political correctness, even though I support many of the causes political correctness aims to be correct about. Yes, I believe you can laugh at something and criticize it at the same time. It's called laughing at yourself. Benny was a master at it. Life is too serious to be taken too seriously.

Captain Bob 1:01 am, 20-Nov-2014

I really liked his shows, the innuendos and the beautiful girls. I think he invented (or certainly perfected) the "fast motion" chase set to music. I can not now ever see anything like that without thinking of Benny. He, just like Jack Benny, was frugal but was later found out to have anonymously helped charities and people down on their luck. A good man with a good heart even if a bit eccentric.

Bonzo Dog 4:17 pm, 1-Dec-2014

The Hill's ow caused embarrassment, but is still the stuff of dreams to many a young hetrosexual lad.

andy 8:49 pm, 9-Dec-2014

A genious

Mark 5:47 pm, 4-Jan-2015

Benny Hill was one of the Greatest Comedians of his Era, He had countless awards, he was funny and could sing as well, i myself liked his shows from the 70's and 80's the best, he had Talent. Now we are in 2015 and what do all modern So Called Comics have in common since Benny Hill? They all rely on Profanities, from the stand up comics to So Called Professional Comics, that's all they rely on, take away the Profanities (swearing) F words etc, and the modern comic is as Funny as watching wet paint dry (Boring) Talentless wannabees, oh how many times have i seen comics come on stage, start their act and the audience still bored after a couple to a few minutes, Then and only then do the laughter starts when the reliable Profanities begin and save the day. R.I.P Benny.

OrganizedGeorge 3:23 am, 18-Jan-2015

Benny Hill helped me get over homesickness my freshman year in college. Third week into school, I had a dream that Benny Hill had swooped in to take me to England in his flying machine (a la Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang) and whisked me off into one of his sketches. I've always been grateful to him for that. As for the IRS code book writer's comments above, I dearly wish young women born in 1973 or later would kindly put a sock in it. By the time you met adulthood, it was 1988 and you were busy drooling over George Michael (who, ironically, IS gay). To provide us with your Master's Thesis on Women's Studies based on the sexualization of the fairer gender by Benny Hill is absurd. He was funny, dammit. And so were the women. They didn't take themselves too seriously. Today, women annoy me, which sucks. Since I am one.

DT 9:30 am, 28-Jan-2015

The first time I saw Benny Hill when I was 12 years old back in 1981 in America. My friends thought he was the greatest. I think kids & teens liked him because he was an adult version of "Looney Tunes". To me he was Britain's greatest comedian. It's a shame Britain didn't know he was a national treasure to their country. I hope Benny knew he left his mark in the world of comedy & television.

Dr.Bombay 12:47 pm, 3-Mar-2015

'New enlightenment'? Now that is funny. First of all, realize that BH's humor is in no way 'obsolete' as you wish it was. People still laugh at it - and would laugh at it again. The reason they cannot is it was censored out of existence - not by the public itself, mind you, but by self-appointed cultural apparatchiks. Your new enlightenment is about as enlightened as when the Nazis prohibited cubism and other 'degenerate art' that did not fit into their political worldview. Of course, the apparatchiks themselves will portrait this as progress.

P R 1:48 am, 21-Mar-2015

I fail to understand why Benny Hill has become a lightening rod for writers who fixate on his personal human failings, theorize on diabolic motives, and seek to vilify this fellow human being. We laugh at such exploits as Captain Scuttle of the Lower Tidmarsh Fire Brigade as he uses a ladder to attempt a rescue of a man in a burning building, but the just-noticed scantily clad beauty in the next window suddenly becomes the priority. Are those laughing required to deny their thoughts that, even for a second, they would do the same? Benny Hill was pure fantasy, and he spoke to frustrated people everywhere; hence, his popularity. Even in the national stereotype characters (Chow Min, the Irish visitor interviewed on experiences in London, etc), while not flattering, there lacks anger, resentment, meanness and cruelty. Modern movies and television that are classified under "comedy" are often mean-spirited, angry, and cruel. Benny Hill seems to be a man who starved to love and be loved, all manifested through overeating if the statements in this article are accurate. Youtube offers the contemporary luxury of analyzing episodes. Although jokes and setups can be recycled occasionally, Benny not only is able to come up with these concepts, but is able to embody hundreds of characters (male and female) in speaking AND signing roles. This article and many others attempt to flesh out Benny Hill himself as if he was one of his characters, and to the frustration of scandal writers, they cannot.

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