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BENNY HILL SHOW: complete and unedited!

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by AndyMcKinney, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    In that Holiday sketch, there were two topless girls, Corinne Russell (the double-jointed one) and Tracy Evans.
     
  2. Troubado

    Troubado Auditioning

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    Hello there. This a long forgotten post, but I'll try... Are you sure this is Tracy Evans on the beach with Corinne Russell on the "Holiday" sketch? Sometimes it is indicated that's Nikki Critcher
     
  3. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    It was indeed Ms. Evans alongside Ms. Russell on the beach; she herself had been in contact by E-mail to advise as such, unfortunately it was in a period where the editing staff of the Benny's Place website was in flux (with the site's creator intending to retire), so sadly I was unable to respond to make things right (or at least, try to), and was thus as frustrated about that as no doubt she was about my inability to straighten things out on that.

    I wonder, though, about Ms. Critcher, whether she was in the background in the scene inside the gym during the Dibbles Health Farm sketch that ended the May 27, 1985 show, where Benny was trying to lift a weight and getting a hernia in the process. The lady in the background more resembled Ms. Critcher, comparatively speaking. Her hair and how it was worn - plus, possibly, her figure - also seemed to "check out" more. (And I saw pics of Ms. Critcher in The Spotlight; had no awareness of Ms. Evans when I accumulated my research on the supporting players and extras to see "who was who." And it was also before others filled in more blanks.)
     
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  4. Message #204 of 209 Oct 30, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know if it was brought up here before within this thread (if so, I apologise), but I have long wondered if this circumstance was a factor in the BBC's decision to poach Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam and join them with John Cleese and Graham Chapman for what ended up as Monty Python's Flying Circus. After all, Thames' luring of Hill (they used as the "carrot" the ability to make his proposed Eddie in August project; the "stick" was the obligation to leave the BBC once and for all and do all his future shows for Thames) happened around the same time that:
    - the BBC's Barry Took was developing a potential sketch comedy to headline Cleese
    - Do Not Adjust Your Set, which second series ran on Thames (and on which Idle, Jones, Palin and Gilliam on drawings/animations were featured), had just completed the airing of said series; Thames had expressed an interest in commissioning a third series (in a later time slot for a more "adult" audience), but in large part as a consequence of the signing of Hill (and also deals for new shows with Bernard Cribbins and Dickie Henderson, plus returning shows such as Father, Dear Father), they couldn't guarantee studio time for said new series for another year to 18 months - and I'm sure the BBC was aware of this circumstance and decided to take advantage on that basis, especially with the loss of Hill stinging so much
    (As a side note, scanning the various supporting players, bit extras and walk-ons who appeared on Python, I noticed absolutely none of them were clients of Hill's agent Richard Stone - and I don't think it was a coincidence. As well, that show's first film cameraman, James Balfour, had lensed the film segments for Benny in his last years with the 'Beeb'.)

    Once again, if I'd brung this up before, my apologies: The political climate whipped up against Hill and his show in his last years on the air didn't help matters any, and indeed may have made an already bad situation even worse.

    But it wasn't simply the rising production costs and declining ratings that helped spell doom for TBHS. The repetition factor had reached a point where it was now in "operating on autopilot" mode, with the repetition being increasingly lifeless, rote, perfunctory, paint-by-numbers, phoning/mailing it in, running-on-fumes, been-there-done-that. Increasing portions of the show looked like they had been made on the way to the men's room (as Jackie Gleason himself said of the last year or two of his American Scene Magazine before he retired that format in 1966), and the show by and large was slipping further into uninspired mediocrity - the last point of which John Howard Davies, who made the decision to end TBHS, had said in several interviews. (Indeed, those last few years Hill was on the air, was similar to seeing the last years' of Gleason's [if one saw Time Life's The Jackie Gleason Show in Color DVD's], Red Skelton's and Dean Martin's weekly network shows, plus every Lucille Ball sitcom from The Lucy Show onwards [especially after 1965] and Bob Hope's specials from the mid-to-late 1970's onwards - lack of energy, overall tiredness, running on fumes and so on.) The shows towards the end had become every bit as bloated as Hill himself, who had a very noticeable weight gain during the '80's.

    The sky's-the-limit budgets, on paper, sounded reminiscent of the budgets of Jackie Gleason's CBS variety shows (never mind his show was produced way differently from Benny's), and by 1970 he was in the same pickle as Hill in 1989 (only without the "political incorrectness" baggage) - rising costs and lower ratings. There were several key differences, though. In 1969 Gleason lost a great deal of weight (reported at 60 lbs., more likely 80-100 lbs.) which made the "fat jokes" far less palpable - especially as Art Carney by this point was a bit heavier than him. Over the years, he had burned his bridges with a succession of CBS executives with his outlandish and exorbitant demands (plus his overall contempt for network executives in general, something Hill could never be accused of), and many who served in that capacity (notably Mike Dann) in turn were saying that Gleason had become more and more a P.I.T.A. as the years went by, increasingly not worth the aggravation and cost. And CBS simply cancelled Gleason's show just like that, in February 1970 - not even inviting Gleason, his manager/business partner/producer Jack Philbin and/or his agent Sam Cohn to 'Black Rock' in midtown Manhattan to be delivered the bad news, indeed Gleason apparently read about his show's cancellation in the papers - unlike Hill and Dennis Kirkland being called to Davies' office in late May 1989 to be told it was the end of the line. While Dann may have said Gleason "never recovered" from being cancelled, he lived for 17 more years - unlike Hill who was dead three years after Thames gave his show the axe.
     
  5. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Just like Lucille Ball after the failure of Life With Lucy.

    Except that Gleason also had movies to fall back on after TV, and he did. Benny Hill's best-known film role is the toymaker in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, filmed before he moved to Thames (and before he was in color, IIRC), but he never did much with films beyond that.
     
  6. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Yes, Benny's show wasn't in colour until he switched to Thames in 1969, so yes, he made Chitty while his TV show was still in black-and-white.
     
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  7. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    Here's what I mean. First, a photo of Ms. Critcher from one of the editions of The Spotlight casting directory of UK:
    [​IMG]
    Then from the 1985 "Dibbles Health Farm" sketch:
    [​IMG]
    No doubt, can't be confused with Tracy Evans for sure anymore.
     
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  8. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    The other thing about Hill's Australian show from 1977 is, how it was shown there and how it was shown in the UK differed considerably in certain spots. Not just from the title change, but:
    - The original Aussie airing showed a cast list, just as his regular UK shows did:
    [​IMG]
    (Courtesy The Benny Hill Show Wikia.)
    I have to wonder if this is incomplete, as there are three actors also cited as being on this show - Nat Nixon, Stuart Wagstaff and Maurice Murphy - missing from this list. But when this aired in the UK, the cast credits were edited out from the show, which went from Benny's good nights to the crew credits leading off with Hill's "Script & Original Music." (They even had the superimposed credit roll shown differently, with an outline instead of a shadow.)
    - The original Aussie show also had a sketch with Chow Mein as Minister of Culture and Max Phipps as his straight man trying to figure out what he's saying. This was MIA from the UK version, which would have substituted the B&W period piece "Love Will Find a Way" (from Jan. 27, 1971, one of the "ITV Colour Strike Three") in its place.
     
  9. Troubado

    Troubado Auditioning

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    Thank you William for these precisions! I am in touch with Tracy Evans myself.

    She had told me that she had contacted "Benny Hill's Place" to rectify the confusion of her scenes as Hill's Angel with Nikki Critcher, but that she had received no response. I understand from reading you that this happened at a time when the site was dormant. Maybe "Threerandot" could now change it?

    "Thor2000", which is very active in Benny Hill Wikia, has corrected this error for its part.
    https://benny-hill.fandom.com/wiki/Tracy_Evans

    I thought Nikki Critcher might have been one of the Amazon army members of "Wanda the Wicked Whip Woman" (Alison Bell) in the Super-Teech episode, this year 1983. But I think the picture you show of the 1985 sketch is pretty convincing. It's probably Nikki Critcher in that picture.
     

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