You may not recognise saxophonist Boots Randolf but any fan of Benny Hill will instantly recognise his most famous composition: Yakity Sax. Those of you who don’t know the music should tune into That’s TV Christmas the seasonal rebranding of That’s TV Gold to watch a long overdue re-run of episodes of the Benny Hill Show tonight.
Unique comedian Benny Hill died in 1992 at the age of 68. His estate and Thames TV own the broadcasting rights to his work (from 1969-1989) and for more than 20 years they have kept it under lock and key. Now at last some of Hill’s work will be screened again.
The official website, http://bennyhill.co.uk/, says, “On the strength of his written material the BBC hired him for revues HI THERE! and SHOWCASE and he soon became an established TV comic. This success led to the premiere of his own show – THE BENNY HILL SHOW – and in 1969 Benny signed an exclusive contract with Thames Television which soon propelled him and THE BENNY HILL SHOW into a world of international fame and acclaim. Benny’s expert feel for television took every advantage that the new medium had to offer and by the late 1970s half hour editions of THE BENNY HILL SHOW began to air in America as well as worldwide. Throughout the years Benny retained tight control over his award-winning shows, writing all the scripts and composing much of the music.
Over the years Benny and his shows have received acclaim from the entertainment industry in the forms of many national and international awards such as ITV Personality Of The Year, BAFTA Light Entertainment Award for Production and Direction, the CRAFT Award for Best Script, BAFTA Award for Best Light Entertainment Programme, TV Times Hall of Fame Award, BANFF Festival Best TV Comedy Award, Golden Rose of Montreux/International TV Festival Comedy Prize and Charles Chaplin Award for Comedy.
Quote from veteran producer Hal Roach, responsible for the best of Laurel and Hardy, asked during a campus lecture if any modern comic measured up to the greats of the past “I guess there’s only one Benny Hill”.
Whether or not the episodes have been edited remains to be seen because much of his incredibly funny material at the time (1969-1989) may not be seen as quite so funny in the current climate.