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  1. #1
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    Don't worry, I'm not asking the question - I know the subject has been debated by myself and others elsewhere on this forum, but wondered if any other UK viewers watched Is Benny Hill Still Funny? yesterday evening. Furthermore, does anyone know exactly what the point was?



    For the benefit of those who didn't see it - it concerned the results of a study designed to gauge whether 30 minutes of Benny Hill clips would amuse or offend a modern audience.



    It was a fairly poor effort in my opinion. For starters, I was getting mixed signals about the message it was trying to send out. It seemed on the face of it to be a fully sympathetic production, but I detected a contradictory undertone to the whole thing - I'm just not sure if that was by design or a simple accident of bad production.



    Whilst some of the interviews and comments were interesting, the study itself was a complete waste of time. Playing 30 minutes of old clips to a handful of seemingly educated people (most of whom were too young to have ever seen The Benny Hill show previously - hence, a huge novelty factor here) isn't exactly a representative audience.



    I'm not against new exposure of old work by any means, quite the reverse. No, just sad that such documentaries (I use the word cautiously) aren't a bit more openly balanced.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    The comic climate has changed somewhat and the likes of Little Britain do give a nod to 70s shows like Benny Hill, The Two Ronnies and Dick Emery. I think the show was trying to gauge if the youth of today are more prepared to accept Benny Hill having been accustomed to the likes of Sasha Baron Cohen and his postmodern politically incorrect humor.... although Cohen, Gervais et al do disguise it as irony.



    Felt it was a bit hard to judge Benny's material as it obviously looked dated and most sketch shows by their nature are hit n miss affairs. I'd like to see more of Benny's BBC material but I gather the majority of it would have been wiped.


  3. #3
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    name='Cuffy']Don't worry, I'm not asking the question - I know the subject has been debated by myself and others elsewhere on this forum, but wondered if any other UK viewers watched Is Benny Hill Still Funny?
    As a young lad growing up in the 70s Benny Hill was compulsory viewing. It wasn't funny at all, not in the slightest, and it has been noted in recent years that much of the humour had been lifted by Mr Hill from clowns and mimes from all around Europe.



    No, we watched it purely for cleavage and thigh, and there was always enough to keep growing boys happy with the likes of Anna Dawson and Hill's Angels, some daring costumes and the old favourite, the suspender belt and black stockings! Which is possibly why it was such a hit in the US because until Benny Hill was shown, there had been very little in the way of tawdry titilation allowed passed the censors.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: England aaron's Avatar
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    I watched 2/3rds of this, but bowed out before the 'verdict' as i have no interest in such nonsense.

    For what it's worth, in my opinion, yes, Benny Hill was/is as funny as most performers i.e. mostly vaguely amusing, sometimes funny, occasionaly inspired. I believe, that he was an unfortunate casualty of the time, and in some ways an easy target.

    It was interesting that one of the characters highlighted in this appraisal, was his 'chinaman'.

    I recall occasions when the seemingly above critisism Ronnie Barker has done similar impersonations, as well as happily 'blacking up' for comic effect.

    Similarly, the hugely popular (and regularly repeated still) Leonard Rossiter in rising damp contains some (potentially) dubious racial observations. Personaly, i don't consider such things to be 'beyond the pale' provided it is done without malice, and i am certainly among the Ronnie Barker/Leonard Rossiter admirers.

    Of course, times and tastes do change, but it is not always for the better. Little Britain was amusing for two episodes, after which the half a dozen jokes they had, were well and truly exhausted. Catherine Tate's use of the "i know someone just like that" characterisation humour wears thin after half an episode.

    The interesting thing to me, is that both of these two recent hit shows, seem to me capable of causing offense (to those willing to be offended!)

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses so far guys - I've read and digested with great interest.



    I think perhaps it's the attempt to correlate Benny Hill/[insert other] with modern shows that confused me on this issue - for whilst I don't consider myself to be cerebrally challenged in any particular way, it's probably fair to say that I'm one of those pedants in life who often studies (or tries to at least) the detail, to the detriment of the obvious.



    I've a few points to make, no particular order or preference to be inferred...



    I think that DB7 makes a particularly valid point re the availability of Benny's BBC material and what could be offered to the featured study group - this was mentioned in the programme but largely glossed over. The washing up liquid spoof sketch with Patricia Hayes being a notable exception - the rest were mostly Benny's post-colour Thames era.



    They did make a meal of the "cleavage and thigh" element - deserved and no doubt relative simply to the amount of footage available, but as usual it was presented as being more nasty and seedy than it need be.



    The comparison with the The Two Ronnies amuses me - although they were contemporararies of Benny and Dick Emery I never really considered them much in the same group, although the truth is that they were - Barker (as mentioned) being, of far, the more daring of the duo. Perhaps a psychological barrier on my part regarding double acts? Who knows.



    Either way, I admire the duo Ronnies for the fact they managed to balance their family viewing without managing to upset the PC brigade. Ironically (and irrelevantly perhaps), I admired Morecambe and Wise for probably the opposite reasons - about clean cut as you could get (sadly, it's perhaps why Eric and Ernie were conspiciously absent from this years xmas listings in my area!!).



    I don't think the recycling of comedy has ever been any secret. Benny Hill took the existing old jokes and threw them into a pot along with the music hall acts and mime. He came up with his own version that worked - our argument here is largely audience dependent. What comes around, goes around - rightly or wrongly. For what it's worth it always annoyed me that Freddie Starr's silent sketches were blatant Benny Hill rip-offs.



    Putting my cards on the table - perhaps I just like the old timers. Dick Emery top of all, Benny is probably slap bang in the middle of my ratings and the Two Ronnies towards the lower. And whilst I think non-PC is to be admired, I can't seem to cope with the likes of Catherine Tate. She's an up and downer on my radar - and yet, I think she's lovely as a straight actress. Little Britain is ok, can be genius at times but the novelty is starting wearing off for me. Finally, I think that Ricky Gervais will stand the test of time more than either - a hit and run artist for sure, but thats no bad thing in my book. Cant speak for Cohen though - I've not really seen any of his work.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    name='Cuffy']

    I think that DB7 makes a particularly valid point re the availability of Benny's BBC material and what could be offered to the featured study group - this was mentioned in the programme but largely glossed over. The washing up liquid spoof sketch with Patricia Hayes being a notable exception - the rest were mostly Benny's post-colour Thames era.


    That clip reminded me somewhat of the Harry Enfield sketch The Toddlers involving Enfield and Kathy Burke.



    I was quite interested in the Beeb material as it appeared more satirical and the move to Thames seemed to signal a switch to slapstick/seaside postcard humour. But it was hard to judge how major the shift was a there was only a few BBC clips and we've seen hours on Benny's ITV output. Might be a case of what might have been had Benny not been so desperate to fund those short films; maybe not dissimilar to Emery had he not departed.

  7. #7
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    I'm not a great lover of Benny Hill doing his wink, wink type humour. I always thought perhaps it should be spelt a bit different. I did watch a film on BBC over Christmas about Fanny Craddock. This had a scene of Johnny in bed after his heart attack watching a Benny Hill sketch with the late great Bob Todd playing Johnny. They did not show the end of the sketch but I recalled it and it made me laugh. When he bothered he could be funny but to often seem to go for the cheap laugh.

  8. #8
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    I think the show offered far more insight into the pisspoor state of factual programming on British TV than it offered anything new on Benny Hill - from whom the programme makers might at least have learnt a little about creativity!

  9. #9
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    Benny Hill was a brilliant satirist in the sixties, especially of film and T.V. By the late eighties there was not much but tits and arse. God bless you, Benny.

  10. #10
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    name='Stephen Jones']Benny Hill was a brilliant satirist in the sixties, especially of film and T.V. By the late eighties there was not much but tits and arse. God bless you, Benny.


    I'd disagree there, possibly because I own the Thames episodes. I find the first eight or nine years of the Thames shows very funny (though like any sketch show they are hit and miss, thankfully with DVD's you can skip the weak bits). When Dennis Kirkland took over as producer, the "tits and arse" element (which was always there) became a lot more in your face (via Hill's Angels). However this really only lasted three or four years and the remainder of the show's run was a reaction to that (the introduction the Little Angels, more prim costumes) and one of the very last episodes had the wonderfully dark edged 'Crook Report' sketch. That said, the eighties episodes remain patchy



    Benny's very well represented on R1, all the Thames episodes are available and there's even a compelation of his BBC work available.



    I like Benny and tend to find him far more funnier than the now-sainted 'Two Ronnies', but I must admit that my tastes are old fashioned as my favourite comics are the likes of Tony Hancock, Peter Cook, Eric & Ernie, Will Hay, Laurel & Hardy etc.

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