Friday, August 17, 2012

Discuss: The Benny Hill Show


Robert said...

Interestingly, the Olympics in London got a bit of stick in the British press for using the Benny Hill theme as background music during the Beach Volleyball. What were they thinking!

J.A. Morris said...

I loved the show at when I was 10-11, by the time I was 13 I was over it, haven't watched in 25+ years.

But I still love this SCTV sketch, 'Benny Hill Street Blues'

david_b said...

Ah, I think of my Dad when I hear Benny Hill. He was a big fan. It's a shame when Benny was told to tone it down and be more 'child-friendly'.. Ruined some classic comedy.

Not a big fan of this type of cheese personally, but I know his show was a great comic institution, providing the lovely and funny Jane Leeves and others their humble starts. Bravo for that!

William Preston said...

I also think of my father when the subject of this show comes up. I watched it with mild interest because it was British comedy, and, as a middle-schooler, had fallen in love with Monty Python, but the show was largely a let-down and confusing to me. I could "get" the surreal and cerebral comedy of Monty Python, which also used slapstick, but the shifting of tones in Benny Hill, from the racy to the mawkish, left me baffled. He'd be chasing girls one second and singing a sad song the next.

And though it also came up when watching the Pythons, who also used a laugh track, the way Benny Hill acted as if there were an actual audience threw me.

My father was greatly amused by "the little old guy."

I wonder if Brits are as embarrassed by that export as they are by EastEnders.

david_b said...

William, well spoken.. Sums up my ideals better than I could. I appreciate the age of burlesque humor and it's place in entertainment history, but not my cup of tea (no pun intended..).

Greatly preferred Python, Seller's Goon Show, Not Only... But Also, Goodies, and other Brit comedy shows.

Edo Bosnar said...

As I recall, this was shown during a Friday late-night slot where I was growing up, and I used to watch it on occasion. Like J.A., it was when I was aged roughly 10 to 12, after which I began to find it kind of crass.
Interesting that a few readers mentioned their dads liking this. Mine didn't, but he liked something that was, in my opinion, just as bad: Hee Haw.

david_b said...

Oh, jeez Hee Haw..

I loathed and detested that show when I was a youngster. By some freak accident of nature, somehow the planets lined up, when I bought my first home in the early 90s and just got cable, I'd actually hunt for it on CMT.

Funny as it is, I used to detest the old-style twangy country/farm music growing up. Playing gigs now and doing slide work, I see that guy playing slide on the the table dobro behind Conway Twitty and frankly, "I want to be 'that guy'"..

Too funny.

Doug said...

Whenever we were at my grandparents (both sides of the family) we'd watch Hee Haw and the Lawrence Welk Show. The other night I was flipping channels around midnight and came across a public television station airing Lawrence Welk reruns. I was captivated. Talk about some Bronze Age goodness!! Why did the pale blue tuxedo with the ruffled shirt ever go out of style?

In regard to Benny Hill, it was a huge hit among my friends and I when we were in junior high. Right up a hormonally-ragin youth's alley, I suppose.


Karen said...

Doug said, "Whenever we were at my grandparents (both sides of the family) we'd watch Hee Haw and the Lawrence Welk Show."

Oh my... we appear to have something else in common. That was sheer torture for me. I'm sure my intense dislike of those shows was one reason I became a hiker and nature lover. When those would come on, I would immediately exit my grandparents' house and go running around in the backwoods area behind their home. The lizards, horned toads, jerusalem crickets, etc that I found there were far more interesting than "ah one and ah two"...

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen & Doug: too funny, and both of you were lucky because it was only when you visited your grandparents. I had to experience the Welk/Hee Haw double whammy every weekend (Hee Haw was Saturday evening, Welk Sunday evening), since, as I noted, my dad was into Hee Haw, while mom watched the Lawrence Welk show religiously. It was a bit like Donnie and Marie, with the "I'm a little bit country, I'm a little bit rock-n-roll" debate, except the rock-n-roll was painfully absent. And Karen, yes, I often did go outside when the weather was nice, or shut myself up in my room and read comics during the cold, dark winters.
By the way, david_b, I later came to appreciate the musical talent of both Hee Haw hosts, Roy Clark and Buck Owens, but I still would not be able to sit through an entire episode of that show...

Edo Bosnar said...

...and sorry everybody for turning this learned discussion of acclaimed British entertainer Benny Hill into an encounter group for those suffering from childhood trauma rooted in country music and schmaltz.

david_b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david_b said...

Actually, folks, actually...:

Who here can tell me the first TWO notable music industry artists to acquire the Moog Synthesizer in the mid '60s..? Anyone?

Mickey Dolenz and Buck Owens.


Edo, you're spot ON about the musical versatility of both stars.. Roy Clark can play so many string instruments, it's unreal.

Here's him on 'Odd Couple', on a short that's typically left off in syndication..:

Cut to about 1:08 and 2:18 on this clip.

"Play that, Mr. Clapton.. By the way, grab a napkin, you've just been served."

Steve Does Comics said...

It's amazing to remember just how big a star Benny Hill was in Britain when I was growing up in the 1970s. He was so big he even had a Number 1 single.

From my own experience; in the early 1970s he was hugely popular with all the kids I knew. By the late 1970s his show was starting to feel stale and by the early 1980s it'd become horribly unfashionable, as that seaside postcard style humour came under attack from more right-on comedians.

It is interesting to see clips from his earlier shows and see just how creative he was back then compared to how predictable he became in later years.

I don't know how much people in America know about his private life but he did seem to live a very sad life - as a lot of British comedians of his vintage did. It's like we used to churn out unhappy comedians on a conveyor belt.

Sadly, I do feel his shows have stood the test of time a lot worse than comparable shows like Are You Being Served and the Carry On movies have.

david_b said...

Steve, you bring to mind a wonderful story about the death of Mr. Hill a few years back. I'll try to recount the incident faithfully, but apparently Mr. Hill was discovered by Police in his apartment keeled over, generally 'in a bad way'. A close friend was notified and arrived on the scene quickly. That friend pleaded with police to allow him to comb Benny's hair and at least make him presentable before any pictures were taken, on the chance any got out to the public.

Just a wonderful testimony of friendship, loyalty, and maintaining a sense of decency which seems lacking of late.

Chris said...

Living in the UK I can remember the popularity of The Benny Hill Show. But my dad disliked it so it was very rarely on our TV.

I've watched a few, but I've no idea if they were from early or later days. But what I do remember is the music from the "crazy chases" generally at the end of the show. I loved that music!

In fact I still hum that when any games with my 8 year old boy involve a chase. It's so apt!

Garett said...

Haha--great Benny Hill Street Blues, and love that Roy Clark guitar solo.

Has SCTV been a topic yet?

Fred W. Hill said...

Despite our shared surname, I could only take Benny in small dosages, although my younger brother loved his antics. I was more into Monty Python, the Blackadder and other British comedies. Oh, and Hee Haw & Lawrence Welk were staples in my household on Sunday evenings too. Hee Haw I found dumb but mostly tolerable, Lawrence Welk made me want to retch! After dinner, if those shows were on in the living room I usually retreated to my bedroom to read or draw.

J.A. Morris said...

Forget Hee Haw:

"I wonder if Brits are as embarrassed by that export as they are by EastEnders."
Are they really embarrassed by it? Isn't it one of the most watched shows in the UK?
Dum dum dum dum dum da da da dum!

William Preston said...


Yeah, it's a popular show, but certain segments of society find it embarrassing. I've head it called "EastBloodyEnders" in disgust. As my daughter's English boyfriend has said, in the U.S., people watch soaps to see beautiful people living better than they do to they can imagine themselves in those lives; in the U.K., they want to see unattractive people making fools of themselves in pathetic conditions so they can feel better about their own lives.

Anonymous said...

Benny Hill - comedic genius!

As I always tell people : "I'm not a fan of Benny Hinn (the preacher) but I do like Benny Hill (the cherubic British comedian)!"

- Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

Steve Does Comics said...

I'm shocked to discover that overseas TV stations show Eastenders.

Then again, I'm baffled that a British TV station shows it.

I wouldn't say people in Britain are embarrassed by it so much as they're depressed by it, ridicule it and wish it'd end.

Its viewing figures have always been a mystery, as you never seem to meet anyone who watches it, likes it or has any respect at all for it.

It's like watching it is some sort of endurance test, like running a marathon backwards while dressed as a rhino.

Rip Jagger said...

I discovered The Benny Hill show on late-night TV after I got to college, and discovered the wild world of cable, not a common thing in my time when HBO was a brand new thing.

The idiotic comedy was sometimes opaque, but the cheesecake was always fun. I could tell it was like yet fundamentally unlike Monty Python, the only other British TV I had to compare it to.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

Sorry just came upon this blog, but as an American teenager in the 80's I loved the show. (And I know what you are thinking- any straight teenage male would like any show with lots of pretty women.) However,I really enjoyed the silly "low" humor. I think the British are too harsh in their criticism of his show. His program was the most popular anything Thames produced. Everything with an English accent doesn't have to be high brow. He made me laugh and for that, I will always be most thankful.

Related Posts with Thumbnails