Benny's 7ft erection

Statue to Hill 'by 2008'

Campaigners planning a statue to commemorate of Benny Hill are hoping to have it in place by 2008.

The Hampshire town of Eastleigh, which inspired Hill’s comic hit Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West), has emerged as the favourite location for the 7ft tribute.

More than £5,000 has already been raised to pay for a design from sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who also created the Eric Morecambe bronze at Morecambe.

The Benny Hill Statue Campaign, led by TV critic Garry Bushell, now needs another £30,000 to make it happen.

Hill's birthplace of Southampton had originally been mooted as a possible site for the statue, but Eastleigh has now taken over as favourite.

Bushell told the local Daily Echo newspaper: ‘We have had talks with Eastleigh Council and they are very keen. My aim would be to have it in place by 2008.’

Bushell hails Benny Hill as ‘Britain's biggest ever comedy export’ and said the ‘gutless trendies’ at ITV who axed his show in the Eighties should ‘hang their heads in shame after caving in to joyless PC obsessed prudes’.

He added: ‘There is no doubt that their back-stabbing betrayal hastened the great man's death in 1992. Since then, not one of the fashionable comedians who TV has invested millions in has had a quarter of Hill's success.’

Ernie was inspired by Hill’s time working for Hann's Dairies in Eastleigh – and the 1971 No 1 hit mentions Market Street, which locals have taken to mean the road of that name in the town. Eastleigh also named one of its streets, Benny Hill Close, in his honour.

Click here to watch the Ernie video.

Published: 30 Dec 2006

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