One of the UK’s best known commedians and known worldwide, Benny Hill also has a connection with Bournemouth.
Although Benny Hill was born in Shirley in Southampton in 1924, during the Second World War he was evacuated to Bournemouth School in Bournemouth, to avoid the bombing, since Southampton is a major port and industrial centre and was bombed heavily during the blitz.
After leaving school Benny had jobs as a milkman (later to help greatly in his career), he worked at Woolworths, and also trained as a mechanic, but in the late 1940’s, inspired by the success of the Old Time Music Hall, he decided that he wanted to get into comedy.
He changed his name to Benny (he was christened Alfred Hawthorne Hill), and began performing in working men’s clubs.
His first professional theatre job was playing a straight man to Reg Varney (of “On The Buses” fame), beating Peter Sellers to get the role, Peter Sellers still then being unknown.
As well as the famous Benny Hill Show, Benny played parts in a number of classic comedy movies, including Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Italian Job.
His greatest musical achievement was of course the now classic Ernie The Fastest Milkman In The West, not forgetting of course his appearance in the Genesis music video for Anything She Does.
Benny passed away in 1992 and is buried in Southampton.
We have visited Benny’s grave, which is in Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton. I saw him once in Oxford Street in London when I was working there, but sadly never got a chance to meet him. I think he would have been an interesting person to get to know and to interview.