Funny, Peculiar: The True Story of Benny HillPaperback
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- Publisher: Pan Books
- Format: Paperback | 528 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 32mm | 386g
- Publication date: 1 October 2003
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0330393405
- ISBN 13: 9780330393409
- Edition: New edition
- Edition statement: New edition
- Illustrations note: 80 b&w photos
The definitive biography of the international TV comedy icon; Benny Hill's saucy smirks at underdressed women are relished the world over. Yet the comedian cut an unlikely figure of global admiration: unmarried and emotionally enfeebled in his few relationships, he was a deeply private individual uninterested in the trappings of success, a frugal man content to live in his humble childhood home flooded, freezing and burgled while his building society account bulged with millions of pounds he didn't use and hand't wanted to earn. Funny Peculiar is the first objective and full account of Benny Hill's life and work. Tenaciously researched and yet sensitively reported, it charts the highs, lows and many paradoxes of a man whose professional strengths - observation impression and mime - bought him unimagined success, and whose weakness, especially an inability to change, fashioned his ultimate downfall.
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Acclaimed for such books as the 'Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy' and 'The Complete Beatles Chronicle', Mark Lewisohn has a worldwide reputation as a meticulous researcher and writer of popular culture. With unprecedented access to archives and 125 interviews with Benny Hill's friends and family, this is the last word on 'The World's Most Popular Comedian'.
'Riveting and unexpectedly sympathetic' Craig Brown, Mail On Sunday; 'A revelation... entertaining and exhaustively researched' Kathryn Flett. Observer
Benny Hill will always be remembered for his salacious, sexy (some have said sexist) comedy The Benny Hill Show, in which he either failed to get the girl or was surrounded by scantily-clad women. Alfred 'Alfie' Hill was born in Southampton in 1924. His peers deemed him an ordinary child with no special talent except for clowning around and imitating variety stars. As an adolescent he became fascinated by radio and variety shows, doing impressions of the nervous customers in his father's shop, which sold condoms and other 'marital aids'. Here he learnt about sexual embarrassment at an early age, and used this awareness later on in his TV shows. Always interested in girls, he constantly fell in love with women who weren't interested in him. Over the years his disappointments in love and his own lack of commitment drove him to see women as trophies rather than partners. But there are fascinating contradictions: his close friendships with two disabled women contrasted with his seedy sexual encounters with factory girls whom he needed to dominate. The book is kind to Hill, though it does hint at shadier facets, like his shameless plagiarisation of other comedians' work, and his obsession, in middle age, with being surrounded by beautiful women in his shows or on his arm - women he could never hope to have, yet who flattered his ego and bolstered a shy and distorted sexuality. This book might well have been subtitled Hill and His Women, but it also describes his childhood in detail and his hard struggle to be a performer. He might have been a curious roue, but he was also a professional. Variously described as innocent, generous, mean, oversexed and undersexed, Benny Hill was a man who defies categorization. He earned millions yet lived on fish fingers and diet cola, he didn't even pay in his cheques and his awards were stuffed in a cupboard. And he died alone, undiscovered for two days. Accessible and thoughtful, the book reveals the man who captured the tabloid audience with his simple postcard humour.to be a strange enigma. (Kirkus UK)