The Benny Hill Show, 1955
One of the longest running comedy shows on British Television The Benny Hill Show ran for forty years from it’s early days in the 1950’s to 1992. Initially the show aired on BBC1, transferring to ITV Thames 1969.
During it’s heyday the show was famous for it’s scantily clad women, seaside postcard humour and those end title chase sequences. However a new era dawned…
During the 1980’s television began to change and political correctness was fast becoming the order of the day. Although by now the show had been toned down and the Hill’s Angels dropped , The Benny Hill show was accused of being, amongst other things: sexist, as criticism began to mount against the show.
In 1989 without warning Thames dropped The Benny Hill Show. Many people saw this as a cheap publicity stunt on behalf of Thames, particularly as the show continued to make millions all over the world.
Three years after cancellation of the show Central Television invited Hill to make a new series, sadly it was never completed as Hill passed away before it was completed.
The show would feature occasional extravagant musical performances by top artists of the time. Hill would appear in many different costumes portraying a vast array of characters. slapstick, burlesque and double entendre were his trademark. Critics of the show have accused of being sexist, but Hill refuted this claiming that female characters kept their dignity while the men chasing them were portrayed as buffoons.
The early shows were a mixture of visual slapstick style gags, sketches and comedy song routines. Hill had an uncanny ability for mimicry, this he used to great effect in these early shows taking off popular figures of the day. As well as this Hill developed a number of his own characters most notable of which was Fred Scuttle.
The show followed this format until the mid seventies, when the traditional British ‘Saucy Postcard’ humour of Donald McGill was introduced. Hill’s Angels joined the cast (a group of scantily clad dancers that fitted perfectly into the new routines). Needless to say the ratings soared. For the next decade Hill was one of the biggest names on television, even managing to succeed where many other comedians had failed on American television.
Henry Mc Gee
Jon Jon Keefe
Channel: BBC1 1951 – 1969 ITV Thames 1969 – 1992
Written By: Benny Hill
Original Transmission Dates: 15th January 1955 – 30 May 1991