As a percentage of the world’s population, there are not many of us who have been fortunate enough to be brought up on a diet of British comedy from the 1950s through to the end of the 20th century, and nearly all of us who have, and who are still standing, are on the slippery slide of the road to geriatricity, that greying form of non-renewable energy. And we have something else in common, we nearly all lived through the era of television and The Benny Hill Show. Alfred Hawthorn Hill, born on 21 January, like many show business greats (and probably millions of unknown aficianados of the stage), adopted a stage name: Benny, in honour of his hero of comedy, Jack Benny. Benny Hill instilled in the permanent memories of the maybe millions of men who have been captured by his humour, the chase (or run-off) and with it ‘The Benny Hill Theme’, otherwise known as Yakety Sax by Boots Randolph. Of the three means to be successful in advertising and show business: sex, drugs and rock&roll, Benny Hill concentrated on the bawdy, bringing music hall and slapstick into the late 20th century with Hill’s Angels, scantily clad voluptuous women. Not surprisingly, virtually none of our many wives were as impressed by the show and particularly our avid appreciation of it – but maybe my memory is playing tricks – and that is all I recall. Let’s hear from Benny:
I’m not against half naked girls – not as often as I’d like to be.
Girls are like pianos. When they’re not upright, they’re grand.
Benny Hill never married, despite his attractor – wealth. The two ladies to whom he offered that status, declined his invitation.
Why would I make one woman so miserable when I can make so many women very happy?
I guess that he sought praise – nearly every skit involved Benny as the central character. But was that just because his ‘characters’ were so good. I’m the one who gets the laughs.
Ego or reality? That’s what show business is, sincere insincerity.
For some sketches he even made us think.
Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.
But like many comedians he lived alone, and so he died at the age of 68.
What was his real love?
I thought I couldn’t afford to take her out and smoke as well. So I gave up cigarettes. Then I took her out and one day I looked at her and thought: ‘Oh well,’ and I went back to smoking again, and that was better.
Live each day as if it were your last…because one day, you’ll be right!