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Benny Hill Show, The (1969-89)

Courtesy of FremantleMedia

Main image of Benny Hill Show, The (1969-89)
Thames TV for ITV
19 series of 58x60 min episodes plus compilations
ProducersJohn Robins, David Bell, Dennis Kirkland, Keith Beckett, Mark Stuart, Richard McCarthy, John Street
Written byBenny Hill

Cast: Benny Hill; Henry McGee; Bob Todd; Felicity Buirski; Patricia Hayes; Nicholas Parsons; Bella Emberg

Show full cast and credits

Loved by some for his saucy humour, loathed by others for his sexist portrayal of women, Benny Hill was a pioneer of TV comedy from the 1950s to the 1980s and the only British TV comedian to have become a star in America. He is perhaps best remembered for the Thames incarnation of The Benny Hill Show (ITV, 1969-1989), which achieved a BAFTA award for Best Light Entertainment Programme in 1971.

However, Hill had started his TV career in the early 1950s by hosting BBC variety shows and was named Television Personality of the Year 1954-55. He was the first comedian to parody other TV shows, TV personalities and TV adverts of the time. His early TV work for the BBC was particularly innovative, utilising split screen effects and slowing down film to produce speeded up effects.

The Benny Hill Show consisted of a variety of routines including trademark saucy songs, monologues, sketches, parodies and silent routines, usually culminating in an unlikely chase scene with the portly Hill being pursued by an array of usually semi-clad women.

By the late 1970s, edited versions of The Benny Hill Show (trimmed to half-an hour from the usual hour slot) were exported to America. His success in the States was immediate and phenomenal. By the mid-1980s, The Benny Hill Show was exported worldwide to a staggering 127 countries. He won a special comedy award at the prestigious Montreux Festival in 1985.

In 1989 Thames Television, which had made a fortune out of The Benny Hill Show, unceremoniously sacked Hill after receiving pressure from the political correctness lobby, which was outraged by the sexism and smutty nature of his shows. Despite being a multi-millionaire and the fact that repeats of his shows were constantly screened around the world, Hill was devastated by the manner of his dismissal. However, his most cherished achievement, the Charlie Chaplin International Award for Comedy, was presented to him in 1991. Plagued with a chronic heart condition, Hill died on April 20, 1992; he was 67 years old.

Eddie Dyja

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Video Clips
1. Keep fit (4:13)
2. French film director (3:35)
3. Immigration (3:47)
Complete programme - Part 1 (16:01)
Part 2 (20:05)
Part 3 (15:14)
Hayes, Patricia (1909-1998)
Hill, Benny (1924-1992)
Thames Television