Monday, April 23, 2012
Benny Hill...a Further Celebration...
For quick reference: The first three sets are referred to The Naughty Early Years and the second three sets are called The Hill's Angels Years.
Benny Hill DVD Megaset This link will take you to my 2010 blog entry when I wrote about the then upcoming Mega-Set. I didn't post any images from my personal collection but this time around, as you can see, I decided to do so.
A look at Hill's years at the BBC can be explored further Here. On April 20th the BBC took a look back at Hill's career on the 20th anniversary of his death. Their information can be found Here.
In the documentaries I wrote of earlier you'll learn about Benny's childhood, his comic influences, his rise to stardom, and his personal life...and you'll hear candid commentary from his supporting cast on their experiences working on Benny's programs and working with the man himself. Since the Thames material is what's more well-known all over the world that's mostly what appears in the documentaries...with a clip or two from the BBC shows added in to highlight his earliest performances on television. Hill had a regular cast of supporting players in all of his shows. The one that gets the most attention is Jackie Wright, the Irish comedian known by millions of Benny Hill fans as the "little bald man in the Benny Hill sketches" who is forever being slapped on the head and kicked in the rear by any number of cast-members...mostly by Hill but there's been times when any number of Hill's Angels have slapped and kicked Jackie Wright, too. Often, Hill's character would do something naughty toward one of the Angel's and, in error, the Angel would take her anger out on innocent bystander, Jackie Wright.
One of the most popular sketches that would surface at various times during the Thames Television run (1969-1989) would involve Hill at a bus stop wearing a trench coat and at first glance it would appear that he was holding up a newspaper as if he's reading it. Standing in the middle of Hill and Wright, in the same bus line, would be one of the Hill's Angels. Seconds later the woman would shriek, touch her bottom as she reacted to being pinched, and because Hill's hands were supposedly occupied holding up the newspaper, the woman would slap Jackie Wright, instead. After another incident involving a female in line at the bus stop, the woman would storm off after slapping Jackie Wright. These kinds of sketches were often played in mime fashion...usually with an up-tempo instrumental playing in the background. The loud slaps and other sound-effects were inserted, obviously, for comic effect. The mime/fast-paced chase routines that appeared regularly enabled many of his skits to transcend the language barrier, too.
I don't know too much about the BBC cast other than Jeremy Hawk and Patricia Hayes appearing frequently in the programs. In some of the earliest Thames episodes Nicholas Parsons was Hill's straight-man. Henry McGee remained the permanent straight-man, though, and remained a fixture on all of Hill's subsequent programs. Bob Todd often appeared. He was the big guy who also had hardly any hair. Sue Upton and Louise English were a couple of the Hill's Angels that have become synonymous with the series...but I don't know the names of any of the others off the top of my head....but....
I came across a web-site called Benny's Place and for those who want in-depth analysis and information about all things Benny Hill as well as the names of his cast-members through the years click the following Link. Along the left side of the page you'll see pics of Benny as different characters as well as pics of other cast-members, too.
Nicholas Parsons is still among the living and heard regularly on radio. June Whitfield, who appeared on a few of the BBC specials, is also still among the living. The main cast is no longer living. Jackie Wright passed away in January 1989 but had stopped appearing on Hill's specials in 1983. Bob Todd passed away in October of 1992. Patricia Hayes, also from the BBC era, passed away in September 1998. Jeremy Hawk passed away in January 2002. Henry McGee passed away in January 2006...
Benny Hill passed away on April 20, 1992. This salute, used many times by Hill in his programs, is one of his most recognizable. It didn't really matter which hand he used...whether right or left...it was sure to appear during any number of sketches revolving around his character, Fred Scuttle.