Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-01-2001, 12:27 AM
Cue017 Cue017 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 41
I watched the biography of Benny Hill tonight and while I was not able to watch all of his shows when they were on here in the States, I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I saw. I was saddened by reports of his death in the 90s and until the biography came out, had no idea that he was so famous world wide.

I absolutely did not like the way he was fired and that rose some questions. Like, did the Tames Broadcast Company, who made millions off of him, ever give any reason for praising him as their best asset ever one week and the next week, terminating him abruptly without even giving him notice or a chance to say farewell? His show was still highly rated and doing well at the time of his termination and everyone who knew him knew that, because of his eccentric ways, his staff and actors were like a real family to him. To suddenly cut him off at the knees essentially killed him, so I blame the Tames Broadcasting Company for his death and want to know why they abruptly terminated their highest rated star.

Anyone know? Biography never said.

The TV and movie industry here has a history of doing that, but you expect that in America. The famous 3 Stooges were making a comeback when they showed up for work one day, only to discover that they had all been fired. They were not even allowed in the lot to be informed by the executives whom they had made millions for or to even go clean out their dressing rooms!!

Hill was even more famous, plus because of his obsession with his work, basically was a producer's dream because he wrote all of the scripts and he never threw tantrums, got into scandals, caused trouble and the greatest drug he ever took was diet pills because he liked to eat. Plus, he had tons and tons of awards and was admired by Charlie Chaplain, whom he later surpassed in fame. His show was broadcast into 100 nations!

Then one day he went into a meeting with the Tames executives and within a few minutes, his life was over.

What bastard decided to fire him and why? Certainly the reasons came out in the English press. So, tell me, so I can write hate mail.
Old 05-01-2001, 10:14 AM
ticker ticker is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: London
Posts: 1,972
That would be Thames TV (like in the river), not Tames.

I don't recall what reason was given for the show being axed but the general mood at the time was turning against his sort of sexist humour which to many here in the UK seemed rather dated.
Old 05-01-2001, 04:19 PM
casdave casdave is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 8,141
The cancellation of his show hurt Benny deeply, he couldn't understand why it was stopped.

It was seen as being a remnant of the racist, bigoted and sexist humour around at the time and which was being replaced by comedians who relied more on irony and observations such as Lenny Henry(who actually started out on the club circuit as more of an 'Uncle Tom'), Billy Connolly, Jasper Carrott and the like.

I think Benny was treated a bit unfairly as his was gentle humour and not at the expense of others as had been the case with some of his contemporaries.

I think maybe we Brits felt like we wanted something more sophisticated and witty but Benny's simple humour(actually some of it was deceptively clever) didn't fit the bill, at least as far as the TV executives decided.
Old 05-01-2001, 05:24 PM
Cue017 Cue017 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 41
According to biography, he started facing his worst criticism in the 70s, because of his sexist humor (but, please note, the women always won in his shows), and he regained his audience in the 80s and was pretty much at the top internationally, when he unexpectedly got the ax.

Within something like 2 or 3 years, he died because his show was his life, even though a long time friend started the ball rolling to create a new Benny Hill show at a different broadcast company. Benny even had the unsigned new contract when he was found dead. Thames pretty much killed the old guy by pulling the rug out from under him so callously.

Come on, someone out there must have heard something from the infamous scandal sheets of England and the press because questions would have been asked about his termination, especially after his death. The British do love their 'investigative' papers.

Oh, sorry about the mispelling of Thames.
Old 05-01-2001, 05:30 PM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Oakland, CA, USA
Posts: 5,625
I'll try to look around later, but I am still getting over the shock of seeing "great" as an adjective preceding "Benny Hill".

Once I stop twitching I'll get right on it.
Old 05-01-2001, 08:22 PM
nineiron nineiron is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,349
Man, I can never believe how harsh people are to good old Benny, even to this day. (I once heard a female comedian crack that the only time he ever made her laugh was when he died.) The show was hilarious. I hadn't known about his rough treatment from the Thames folks.

Slightly off the topic, what was the title of the song which served as the theme to Benny's show? I know I used to know this...
Old 05-01-2001, 08:30 PM
Manduck Manduck is offline
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 5,435
Yakety Sax by Boots Randolph
Old 05-01-2001, 08:51 PM
Cue017 Cue017 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 41
Well, according to biography, he had won the coveted Charlie Chaplain award and showed him getting it, plus was asked to visit, and did, the Great Man himself, who thought Benny Hill was the greatest.

He also had dozens and dozens of awards. One of the few people ever to visit him in his apartment discovered stacks of awards on his self in a little used room and even more shoved in a closet. He was also a multimillionaire, though rarely spent much on himself and thought nothing of giving friends in need thousands of dollars. He never married, so I wonder what happened to his millions. His biography is fascinating, leading me to believe that he was actually an obsessive compulsive for about the only thing he did was work. Even when he traveled he sent back scripts written on odds and ends for his show.

He lived in a small apartment, mainly in one room, even though he could have afforded a mansion and had a great room in the place that he never went into!! He produced all of his scripts by himself for the show and was a remarkably shy man when not on the air.

Over here, his termination would have been as shocking as kicking Milton Berle off of the stage during his peak years or suddenly closing down the Monty Python show when it was doing good.I don't know the name of the song, though it sounds darn familiar, but since he had a tendency of making up most of the music for the show, it's probably something he wrote.

The man was an unsung genus! I've been trying to think of any American performer who invested even half as much effort into their show as he did and cannot come up with any. Even the Late Jackie Gleason did not put in the enormous hours that Benny Hill did for creativity. Charlie Chaplain is one of the few that I can think of and Charlie though Hill had surpassed him!

Benny, from what I've been able to find out, was a genuine nice guy through and through. Over here, we've had lots of nice guy actors who later have turned up with scandals and not so nice things they kept hidden away but Benny had none, except that he was eccentric. Pat Boon here was displayed as a nice guy, milk drinker and very, very religious but he was bought and paid for by an automotive company, and when that company shut down one of it's main plants, which had supported a city for over 40 years, he turned his back on the occupants, who were loosing everything, when they asked for his help.

Jerry Lewis, who delighted a generation as a simple, good hearted fool, has turned out to be not all that good hearted. Even Dean Martin, the wonderful singer and comedian and nice guy got into scandals when he hung around with the Rat Pack run by the shady Frank Sinatra.

It boggles my mind to think about the vast amount of brainpower and creativity Hill had to have to churn out scripts almost daily, even when on vacation. His life style was quite similar to a certain type of eccentric genus that pops up now and then.

Benny Hills comedy was never raw, never vulgar, and while sexist, he made sure that he always lost to the women, which is something one does not see today.

What is also sad is that Benny Hill, the reclusive, died alone in his apartment, in his favorite room, watching TV and it was three days before anyone noticed. Even then, a close friend was called, who scaled a two story ladder to get to his balcony and looked through a window to see him dead.

One little thing that the friend, on the show, mentioned, that touched me was a neighbor of Hills, apparently watching everything, as soon as the guy had the cops called, and was back on the patio, leaned out of his window and asked if he'd like a drink. The man said he could use a bottle and the guy gave him one.

Then, because Hill's hair was all mussed up, the guy got permission from the police to neaten it up before they took the body out because he could not bear Benny, who was always neat, appearing in public, even dead, looking disheveled.

That kinda got to me.
Old 05-01-2001, 09:42 PM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Oakland, CA, USA
Posts: 5,625
The man was an unsung genus!
I can accept that (he's an unsung genus, just like Tenebrionidae Alobates morio!), but I will have to question "unsung genius."

And as of yet I have not turned up any information not already covered in this thread.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:40 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017