Series: The Benny Hill Show
The Benny Hill Show (1969-1989) is a British comedy series that cemented the career of one Benny Hill. Strangely, it became far more popular in the United States, leaving a lot of Brits to wonder what all the fuss was about. (Compounded by the fact that it hasn't been shown on network television in Great Britain since 1992.)The ending song of The Benny Hill Show was "Yakety Sax" by Boots Randolph, an infamous Ear Worm if there ever was one, with the ability to inject relentless levity into any situation. Endlessly parodied; if there's a nonsensical Chase Scene (or anything, really), play "Yakety Sax"!
The Benny Hill Show provides examples of the following tropes:
- Accidental Pervert: At least when it isn't on purpose.
- Affectionate Parody: Many skits are parodies of a genre (western, war movies, spy movies...) or a specific film or show. Among the latter are:
- Affectionate Pickpocket:
- In one sketch, three men break out of prison; they reunite and give each other hugs, each of them robbing the others.
- In another sketch, Robin Hood (Hill) has become the new Sheriff of Nottingham. Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet come to congratulate him and he lifts their money pouches as he hugs them, then sics the guards on them.
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: Mocked in "Murder on the Oregon Express".
- Aside Glance: The conclusion of many gags, with Benny either grinning at the camera or staring in shock.
- An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost: In one sketch, Benny plays a man who literally dreams of going out partying at night, getting away from his harridan of a wife. Then one day he's out in the daytime he happens by the very same place he goes in his dreams. Amazed, he knocks on the door. A bunch of women answer.Lead woman: You can't come in here!
Benny: Why not?
Woman: This place is haunted!
Benny: (dismissive) Who by?
- Awful Wedded Life: About anytime a married couple is shown.Husband: Good night... mother of six.
Wife: Good night... father of one.
- Backwards-Firing Gun: Happens in a skit that spoofed The A-Team.
- Bandit Clan: In a longform sketch filmed in and for Australia, Hill plays "Benny Kelly, son of Ned Kelly," and the Kelly gang is presented as an extended family.
- "Begone" Bribe: Benny is sitting in the park reading a book called "How to Get Rich". A young boy comes along with a toy trumpet blaring away. Benny buys the trumpet from the boy, then throws it away. Along comes a bunch of kids each with his/her own instrument (led by the trumpet boy, now with a new toy). Benny buys all their instruments, then realizes how much he just spent. He throws the book away and calls trumpet boy over, talking to him and taking notes on how to get rich.
- Big Little Man: Benny and Jackie Wright (a small man, under 5 feet tall) see a pair of wallflowers sitting at a dance. They decide to ask the girls to dance: Benny will ask the tall one and Jackie will ask the short one. The girls accept and stand up, revealing that — due to how the chairs they were sitting on were designed — the "tall one" is short and the "short one" is tall.
- Carload of Cool Kids: This happens at least twice, as part of a skit with a car full of people... and then the car would drive off revealing Benny was not actually in it, and was the loser.
- The Chase: There's typically a pattern — Hill makes an innocent mistake and a guy wants revenge. Guy chases Hill. As Hill runs away, he stumbles and pulls off a girl's bikini top (but the audience never gets to see her boobs) so she chases him. Next guy they run past is the girl's boyfriend, so he chases Hill. Another two guys carry a window across the road, and Hilarity Ensues. The final guy is bald, and as Hill and the chasers pass him they pat his bald head for luck.
- Chased Off into the Sunset: The mandatory ending — Benny Hill's character is usually shown being chased off into the horizon by an angry mob.
- The Chew Toy: Jackie Wright's character (the small, bald old man) is put to constant, hilarious abuse throughout the show.
- Clothing Damage: Happens very often to both male and female characters, in both cases played for laughs, and in the second case for Fanservice as well.
- Crossdresser: This is a British comedy, so naturally it's a given for Benny Hill and Co.
- Delayed Reaction: Henry McGee asks Question #1, but Benny is silent. McGee asks Question #2, then Benny answers Question #1.
- Distracted by the Sexy: A very common gag.
- In one sketch set in WWII, Benny plays a sniper tasked to shoot Hitler. However, as he's testing the sights, he spots a fraulein in skimpy dress by a window. He keeps ogling while distractedly putting together his sniper rifle, which ends up in a twisted, useless shape.
- In another sketch, he plays a messenger in the middle ages. After putting on women's clothing he flirts with several guards to distract them and knock them out. It doesn't work on the final guard. He has an epiphany and flirts with him as a male instead. It works.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Most of the time when Benny or someone else on the show pawed at a woman (or she was convinced they just had), they got belted for it. Lechery was frequently indulged in and just as frequently punished on this show. This kind of thing was Hill's go-to defense when people accused the show of sexism.
- Ear Trumpet: Several. In the sketch "Benny Kelly, Son of Ned Kelly", Benny pours some alcohol into someone's ear horn and the fluid comes out the man's mouth.
- Edible Bludgeon: The song "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)" features a fight between Ernie and his rival Two-Ton Ted who drives the bakers van using wares from their vans. Ernie is killed by rock cake underneath his heart followed by stale pork pie in the eye.
- The Eponymous Show
- Fanservice: LOTS of scantily-clad, beautiful ladies.
- Fun with Homophones: A serious TV talk show is about Youth in Asia, and a doctor comes on who is under the impression that the subject is euthanasia.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:Hill: (telling a story) ..boy cows.
Hill: It's TRUE, I tell you!
- Giving Them the Strip: An ending chase scene has Benny as an escaped prison inmate evading two bobbies by striping of the jacket and pants of his Institutional Apparel. Finding new clothes to replace it proves problematic, however.
- Groin Attack: A Running Gag.
- Henpecked Husband: Very common. Up to and including Dracula.
- Hilarity Ensues: Presumably mixed with a little real hilarity.
- Hot Gypsy Woman: The subject of the song "Rachel".
- Institutional Apparel: Sketches taking place in prison have the British arrow-covered uniforms. Some gags are milked out of it, such as Benny standing in a line with other inmates, whose arrows, both on the right and the left, all point toward him, while the arrows of his own uniform point upwards, toward his face.
- Jeweler's Eye Loupe: In a sketch with Benny as Robin Hood, he's about to kiss the hand of a wealthy lady when he notices the many jeweled rings and bracelets she's wearing. Robin pulls a (completely anachronistic) eye loupe to better examine them, before robbing her blind.
- Jump Cut:
- Used for the intentional "jump cut to a dummy falling from a great height into jump cut to character getting up after falling" gag.
- Much of the point of Passengers of Love, a romantic movie that makes The Man Who Saves the World look well edited.Girl: Oh, he's a very influential person. His mother is... (cut) Edward Heath.
- Laugh Track
- Lingerie Scene: The show featurs lots of scenes with women in their underwear, often as a result of Clothing Damage or Wardrobe Malfunctions.
- Literal Metaphor:
- A prison scene has a piano against a brick wall, and the narrator states, "During this dark time, music was his only escape", followed by Benny climbing on top of the piano to get over the wall.
- In a sketch on the beach, Benny is reading a book titled How to Pick Up Girls. Then, he tries to physically lift a swimsuit-clad beauty, and gets slapped for it.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Many of the characters played by Benny, whether he portrays a Dirty Old Man or a hormone-addled teenager.
- Never Mess with Granny: "Wonder Gran"
- Pan and Scan: Spoofed in one skit where the movie Deep in My Heart is rendered in fullscreen as Deep in My Ear; and then we repeatedly hear suggestive dialogue before the scene pans over to reveal an innocent context.
- Panty Shot: Many.
- Parody Commercial: A lot of the shorter sketches, usually used as filler between the longer ones.
- The Peeping Tom: In one episode, Benny is peeping through a beautiful woman's window when a policeman grabs him by the shoulder and says, "You are under arrest for being a Peeping...". At this point the woman starts undressing and both Benny and the policeman can only stand there, entranced by the view. Once the woman is down to bra and panties she draws the shades (still unaware that she was being watched) and the policeman grabs Benny again and finishes his arrest by saying, "Tom!"
- Plank Gag: Used with frequency.
- Planning with Props: A long sketch where Benny et al. are German POWs during World War II. They are planning an escape and Benny is using various food items — mostly pastry — to make a model of the camp. During his explanation of how they are going to escape, one of the other prisoners picks up the slice of pound cake which represents the gate and starts eating it.
- Prompting Nudge: During a big production number by the Volunteer Fireman's Brigade the Captain pushes a dimwitted member out in front so he can introduce the Captain. The Captain ends up Playing Cyrano, feeding him the introduction phrase by phrase, then acts surprised when he "discovers" that he's the one being talked about.
- Rake Take: Another common gag, usually coupled with Groin Attack.
- Real Vehicle Reveal: In a filmed sketch about the National Health Service, Benny is a private patient while another lower-class looking person is going through the public way. At the end of the sketch Benny is seen perched in a late model convertible; the lower class guy is then seen getting in the car and driving away, revealing that Benny is sitting on a bicycle. Also see Carload of Cool Kids above.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: A staple of the show. When another show use this trope and it isn't inspired by Scooby-Doo, it's likely to be a Benny Hill allusion.
- Shameful Shrinking: Happens to Benny Hill (via bluescreen) in an '80s sketch where a girl chews him out for being sexist — obviously intended as a Take That to RL critics who claimed he was.
- Sheet of Glass: A running gag during one chase features a sheet of glass carried by two workers, narrowly escaping destruction several times... then the chasers finally just run through it, as if the glass wasn't there... and the two carriers drop the sheet.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Many a lady singer would do this, and at times, Benny himself would do this, too.
- Six Is Nine:
- Benny as a jealous husband breaks into a hotel room and shoots the man & woman in the bed. Then he takes another look at them, looks at the room number, rotates the 6 to a 9, and sheepishly exits.
- Another sketch did the same gag with The Lower Tidwell Fire Brigade chopping their way into a home while on a fire call, which as the mistress of the house angrily pointed out was three doors down.
- Special Effect Failure: Usually quite intentional.
- The most common of it is replacing a falling character with a dummy.
- The parody of The Avengers involves a Fight Scene with very obvious cuts to "stunt doubles" that look absolutely nothing like the protagonists.
- The Police Raid in Waterloo Station is a criminal action movie parody consisting mostly of special effect failures. Actors change clothes between shots (at least once during a shot); director's reflection gets caught by a camera; stagehands are seen hiding behind furniture or outside the airplane; walls are so thin, they shake when Benny opens a door; Benny gets a full glass of wine, starts drinking from a half-full glass, continues with a beer mug; when Benny kisses a woman, his moustache stays on her lip, then returns in the same shot; "dead" people try to straighten their clothes and jerk when stepped on; actors say wrong lines with wrong voices; the airplane and the ship are not only obvious plastic models, but a ship-sized duck swims by in one shot.
- Standard Snippet: Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" for chase scenes. This show went a long way toward making it a Standard Snippet in the first place. So much so that "Yakety Sax" is often referred to as "The Benny Hill Theme", with many people not knowing its real title, or realising that it wasn't written for the show.
- Stripping The Scarecrow: Played With in "Butch Cafferty and the Fundance Kid". Cafferty (Hill) strips a man in the Turkish baths of his clothes but later discovers that a Scarecrow possesses absolutely identical ones.
- Tablecloth Yank: In one of the episodes, Benny Hill does that to several tables, leaves and comes back with new ones to preform an inversion of this trope.
- Thanks for the Mammary: A common gag.
- Theme Song: "Yakety Sax" is also used as the final theme music. Fitting, since the final credits always run over a chase scene.
- Tied Up on the Phone: A sketch has appliances come to life and attack humans; at one point a phone cord wraps itself around Hill.
- Twinkle Smile: Often parodied. Twinkle eyes, too.
- Twitchy Eye: Among Benny's various grimaces, this one is common when he's excited, or about to snap.
- Undercrank: Standard procedure for the obligatory chase scenes with speedy albeit hilarious results.
- The Unintelligible: A frequent bit; Hill would play the part of an foreigner with an utterly incomprehensible accent or dialect being interviewed. Hilarity resulted as the host attempted to make sense of what he said, with many hilarious and often off-color misunderstandings.
- Vandalism Backfire: The subject of a Patter Song. A gentleman goes into his rail compartment and finds a hippie seated there. Gentleman tells hippie to get out, hippie doesn't pay attention. Eventually the gentleman throws the hippie's suitcase out the window, "now what do you think about that?" "It's not my bloody case."
- Vocal Dissonance: Often male singers would sing in feminine registers, and vice versa. Alternatively, Hill would play a child or woman speaking sweetly, until a "blooper" occurs and the director yells at him. Hill's voice then changes to a gruff, throaty East-Ender accent as he complains.
- Wacky Sound Effect
- Wardrobe Malfunction: A staple of the show. However contrived, you can bet that every sort of possible freak accidents will happen to the clothes of any sexy woman in most sketches (usually with a very exaggerated ripping sound) and leave her in her underwear. Though the males of the cast aren't entirely spared either, but there it's purely for humor and never fanservice.
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: One sketch has Benny as clown performing a wacky striptease. It ends with him stripping off his skin until he's nothing but a dancing skeleton.
- That sketch was preceded by one in which several women, already scantily dressed, pantomime taking off clothes to appropriate music.
- Another sketch involves Benny and a lady in a supermarket reacting to the piped-in music. The last tune is 'The Stripper', so Benny takes off his gloves, and is arrested.
- Zipperiffic: Benny as a biker. After trying out all his zippers for his money pouch, his girlfriend finally zips his mouth.