Over the Hill

BBC America drops 'outdated' Benny

BBC America is to drop Benny Hill from its schedules, saying he’s too outdated.

Americans have traditionally seen British comedy as encompassing little more than Hill and Monty Python, and the BBC’s commercial station has pandered to this, airing the Benny Hill show twice a day on US cable.

But now it is to be dropped in favour of more modern fare, such as Jack Dee’s Lead Balloon.

Other ageing shows facing the axe include ‘Allo ‘Allo, The Avengers, Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By and Are You Being Served?. In comes the likes of Torchwood and Hollyoaks.

Garth Ancier, a former head of the now defunct WB network who took over BBC America a month ago said: ‘ We're undergoing a radical makeover.

‘We are now going to focus exclusively on bringing US audiences the very best in contemporary British programming. We want to present a view of contemporary Britain. It's what the BBC does best. I'd rather have Wire In The Blood than Benny Hill.’

BBC America’s publicity director Amy Mulcair added: ‘I am afraid Benny Hill reflects older Britain and our job is to reflect contemporary Britain and all the cool shows coming out.’

David Croft, who wrote ‘Allo 'Allo, as well as producing Benny Hill, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It is very sad. "I am afraid this happens from time to time. A new executive comes in and decides to clear the boards and realise their mistake later.

‘As for Benny Hill not reflecting modern Britain that is just rubbish. It never reflected anything. It is just a funny show. This is a case of taking these things far to too seriously.’

Published: 5 Apr 2007

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