By David G. Firestone
Like many guys, I love The Benny Hill Show. It was silly, goofy, raunchy, politically incorrect, and profane. Needless to say it is a lot of fun. Benny played many memorable characters, including Fred Scuttle, and Mr. Chow Mein. It offended a lot of people in its time. In fact, many of the episodes that were shown on American television were edited for content.
Though Benny frequently played sports fans and athletes on the show, they always wore generic uniforms with no logos. Even when he played American characters and sports fans, they never wore logos or mentioned teams by name. Interestingly, this for no reason changed in 1986. During a sketch called “The Herd” Benny played a number of different cast members. One scene in paticular caught my eye. Benny is playing a grizzled Texas cattle rancher on a golf course. For reason only known to him, Benny can clearly be seen wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap…One of the more risky logos they used was in a sketch concerning jogging. At one point, Henry McGee goes to a park and gets a cigarette, but can’t find a lighter. As he is looking, a man carrying a torch and wearing the Olympic Rings on his shirt walk jogs up. McGee calls him over, lights his cigarette and then proceeds to blow the torch out.
This next part requires some backstory. Richard Whatling was a cast member on The Benny Hill show. The son of Benny Hill cast member Sue Upton, from 1988-1989 he played many child roles on the show, eventually joining “Hills Little Angels.” Hills Angels were a cast of female cast members who were known for their raunchy dancing routines. Hills Little Angels were a cast of children, namely, Joanna Kirkland-daughter of producer Dennis Kirkland, Jade Westbrook-daughter of cast member Jenny Westbrook, Adam Johnstone-son of a choreographer, and Adam and sister Louise Whatling.
By 1988, when Whatling joined the cast, The Benny Hill Show was in the twilight years. Long time cast member Jackie Wright had left the show due to health reasons. The show was noticeably more conservative, many of the jokes had been run their course. So Hills Little Angels came about. Richard played a character who from here on out, I will refer to as “Baseball Boy” because he always wears something with an MLB logo on it. Baseball Boy’s first appearance was in a sketch called “Hill’s Little Angels: Outdoor Games” It starts with the kids sitting in the dark watching TV. As they pan to each kid, Baseball Boy is wearing a New York Yankees sweatshirt. Benny decides to takes them to the park for a picnic. As they leave the house, Benny puts on a scout master hat, and Baseball Boy has added a Yankee cap. One thing leads to another, and Baseball Boy winds up playing..cricket? In New York Yankees apparel? Makes no sense at all, at least to me. Baseball Boy was a trouble maker. He would flirt at other children from cars, play croquet, and insult women.He would never take his cap off, even to have dinner with the local minister.He would also switch from Yankees gear to Mets gear. One of his more memorable appearances was in the next to last episode. In a series of sketches termed “Misunderstandings II” where he not only wears a Mets cap, but a Doc Gooden jersey. Tragically, Baseball Boy and the rest of the show met their end in 1989, when Thames Television pulled the plug on The Benny Hill Show. Benny Hill is one of the most underrated comedians of all time in my mind, and when he died in 1992 at age 68. Benny, you are missed, and you will be missed.