| Well a local channel here in L.A. aired the 30 minute shows late at night long before Comedy Central did. If I understand your question correctly, William, I think it was just a matter of cutting away 'the fat' or in this case all the musical numbers and various comedic monologues Benny performed in order to make it more of a sketch comedy show, like Saturday Night Live. There's no doubt that Benny made reference to a lot of people that only Brits would know. So basically they 'Americanized' his show. Also, Comedy Central had no problem with shows that featured a lot of T&A humor since it was a cable channel.|
I was referring more to the time period of hour-long shows Comedy Central aired -- May 30, 1978 through May 1, 1989 (with the Feb. 11, 1981 show mysteriously missing).
|I am so waiting for the particular episode of TBHS in which he played all the 70's cops in one sketch like Ironside, McCloud, um.. Columbo I think, a few more I can't think of. Anyway I'm hoping that I'll see that in the next boxed set.|
That was from the March 24, 1976 show (Episode 27), so it'll probably be in the third box set. In that sketch, "Murder on the Oregon Express" ("A Quinn Marton, Barton, Harton, Larton & Fargo Production"), he'd played not only Ironside and McCloud, but also Cannon, Kojak & Stavros, and Hercule Poirot (a la Albert Finney). Bob Todd (in what was to be his last appearance on TBHS
until Feb. 6, 1980) wore a bad rug to play Barnaby Jones, Jenny Lee-Wright (in her first appearance on the show since Dec. 27, 1972) "impersonated" Angie Dickinson's "Sgt. Pepper" (shades of The Beatles, eh?) character from Police Woman
, and little Jackie Wright wore an even worse rug to play Peter Falk's Lt. Columbo. Personally, I thought in that context Ms. Lee-Wright's participation in the sketch was a tad ironic -- being as back in 1970, she'd appeared in the John Cassavetes film Husbands
, one of whose co-stars was . . . Peter Falk. We'll be more likely to see the opening segment (with reference to such strange-sounding stuff like "Extra-Special Co-Guest Star") on that coming set than was the case on Benny Hill's Video Revue
(formerly The Best of The Benny Hill Show, Vol. 1
) whereby that whole opening sequence was taken out and it started just as the train was pulling out of the station.
|I'm really looking forward to the next set or two to come because if I recall correctly the mid-70's Benny Hill shows were excrutiatingly funny. He hit his comedic stride and formed a much more tighter picture for his show then.|
Funny, I thought the March 24, 1971 show (in Set 1) was the turning point in that regard. He'd begun to hit his comic stride in that one, and it reached its zenith in the aforementioned mid-1970's period (right up to the time Mark Stuart produced his last TBHS
in 1977). As I said, I expect that Set 2 will consist of 1972 through 1975, Set 3 will probably be 1975 through '79, and the remaining box sets will doubtless chronicle the artistic, creative and overall decline of the show.
Although I'm waiting to see which of the sets, if any, will feature the following programs produced outside of the boundaries of TBHS
- Eddie in August
, a half-hour silent comedy which Mr. Hill not only wrote and starred in, but also co-produced and co-directed (to the chagrin of the technicians' union); he played a loser in everything -- not just love. First aired June 3, 1970. Some portions of this show were scattered amongst the initial U.S. syndicated TBHS
- Benny Hill Down Under
(a.k.a. Benny Hill in Australia
), produced by Network Ten of Australia and aired there on Oct. 11, 1977 and in Britain on April 12, 1978. This was the show that featured "Archie's Angels," the saga of Benny Kelly (descendant of Ned Kelly), the routine of the two men who tended to Lady Godiva's horse, and the sketch of Mr. Hill as the old man whose main catchphrase was "Cut out the middleman! That's how I made my money -- by cuttin' out the middleman!" As with Eddie in August
, selected sketches were sprinkled onto various syndicated half-hours; in addition, many of these same sketches were also on Benny Hill's Video Sideshow
(formerly Best of Benny Hill, Vol. 3
). I suppose that would be to his oeuvre what the German-made Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus
was to that troupe.
- And this may be a long shot, but his very last work, Benny Hill's World Tour: New York!
, aired in the U.S. a year before his death (and in Britain, two years after and in two parts).
| Speaking of Monty Python, I'm much more of a Benny Hill fan than a Python fan. I guess you might compare them with the Beatles and Rolling Stones, with Benny being the Stones(he did Mention Mick in one sketch) and Python, the Beatles(we know how much George loved Python). Although that musical analogy doesn't mean that much for me because I'm much more of a Beatles fan, but I still love the Stones.|
Mr. Harrison's connections to the Pythons are indeed very well known -- but I read somewhere that John Lennon, some months prior to his death, said he watched Benny Hill. Go figure.
But not only did Mr. Hill mention Mr. Jagger in the sketch you may be referring to -- back in the BBC days around 1965, he actually impersonated
him (and, for that matter, in closeups the other members), albeit referring to the band as "The Strolling Ones."
As to the second set, we're likely to see:
- The Woodstick festival for the elderly (from Oct. 25, 1972; Hugh Paddick's only Thames TBHS
appearance as straight man, as apparently neither McGee nor Parsons were available at the time)
- How differing films, plays and TV shows would've handled the story of Little Bo Peep (with the Ironside
"episode" "The Case of the Stolen Sheep") (from Dec. 27, 1973; also featured Fred Scuttle supervising construction of the Channel Tunnel)
- His parody of My Little Chickadee
and gender-reversal takeoff of Baby Doll
(from Feb. 7, 1974)
- "Coalpits," the parody of the British action show Colditz
(from March 13, 1974, Nicholas Parsons' last show; also featured Fred Scuttle as head of an escort service)