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He was only 16 and a half stone (his brother Leonard was 23 and a half when he died), but the belly which made him our “cuddly, lovable, roly-poly funnyman” bothered him greatly.
This did not sit well with his love of fine food and fancy restaurants (“I have plenty of will power, but not a lot of won’t power”).
The effects of his out-of-control speed habit characterised location filming in the early 70s, where the lure of the catering truck would have Benny gobbling the pills at seven in the morning and “running at 400mph”, as Kirkland unhappily remembers it.
In 1976, he had his kidney out (“the tumour was benign, it used to smile a lot,” he joked), and it’s likely this was as a result of liquid retention caused by the speed.
By the time of his next TV engagement, hosting Showtime, Benny was earning £300 a week (the national average age was £10); his rent was £3 a week.
The Benny Hill Show came in 1955, and, even though the Daily Mirror initially deemed it “patchy and lacking cohesion”, it soon picked up, and Benny was suddenly a Royal Variety Show kinda guy, getting film offers (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Italian Job), doing Schweppes commercials, and being poached by the toddler ITV in 1969, where he stayed for 20 years.
In 1990, The Benny Hill Show was on in 97 countries around the world, although not, ironically, the UK, and his famous fans included Michael Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and Charlie Chaplin.
In case you’re interested, Benny preferred his women small and dark, not blonde and bosomy.
Incidentally, there was no disorder to his eating: his habit was to methodically consume each item on his plate individually – all the mushrooms first, then the spuds, then the steak and so on.
Another unhappy image is that of the dirty old man in the dock.
And we all thought those chase sequences at the end of The Benny Hill Show were done with a speeded-up camera.
Nicking all the cakes during tea breaks and pretending to wander off, deep in thought, while he scoffed them all is not a happy image of Benny Hill to take away with us.
He turned down chat show after chat show (from Parkinson to Johnny Carson), and only appeared at a glittering showbiz tribute to the late Eric Morecambe thanks to a schoolteacher sketch that involved him reading from a book.