Beadle’s About – the Hidden Camera Show back on track
The Benny Hill Show and other TV favorites from the past will be returning to TV screens from tonight on That’s TV Christmas, a nostalgia channel broadcasting for the Christmas season on Freeview, Freesat, and Sky.
Alongside Benny Hill, the channel will deliver festive treats from the schedules of yesteryear including Beadle’s About and Christmas TV specials from Kenny Everett, Mike Yarwood, Tommy Cooper and the Carry On team.
That’s TV Christmas is the seasonal rebrand for That’s TV Gold, the archive TV channel broadcasting across the UK on Freeview channel 91, Sky channel 187 and Freesat channel 178. Many That’s TV Christmas shows will also be available on That’s TV’s local TV network which is available in 20 areas of the UK on Freeview channel 7 or 8.
The first hour on That’s TV Christmas today (Thursday 18 November 2021) at 9pm is a double billing of The Benny Hill Show.
Other shows in the coming weeks include Beadle’s About, the hidden camera show presented by prankster Jeremy Beadle, which ran from 1986 for 20 years making it the world’s longest continuously running hidden camera show. Neither The Benny Hill Show or Beadle’s About have been broadcast by any TV channel in the UK for 19 years.
Benny Hill is sited as a hero by many modern comedians, including TV star and author David Walliams who begged for more of him on TV, saying on Twitter in 2017: “I wish Benny Hill was celebrated more on TV“. Comedian Tim Vine of Not Going Out fame claims to have kept all his old Benny Hill VHS tapes saying: “I never tire of it, and I think he’s hugely underrated.”
The late Caroline Aherne, writer of sitcom The Royale Family, told a Channel 4 documentary in 1998: “I loved Benny Hill so much“, while comedian Ben Miller of Armstrong and Miller fame commented: “His early work was ground-breaking. He is the most successful comedian on a world-wide stage that Britain has ever produced.”
Benny Hill was a prime-time feature of British TV for four decades, first on the BBC and then on ITV where his shows ran for a further 20 years to 1989. At his height more Britons tuned in to laugh at Benny Hill than watched the moon landing and he won the first of multiple awards in 1954 when he was voted TV Personality of the Year. The Benny Hill Show received a total of 11 awards during his time with ITV and his shows were exported to over 140 countries. But these British classics, the rights to which are controlled by his Estate and Thames TV, have not been licensed to any UK broadcaster for nearly 20 years.
That changes tonight when That’s TV Christmas launches for another 7-week run with a season of Benny Hill specials.
That’s TV Christmas Head of Programming, Kris Vaiksalu, said: “We are excited to have secured the rights to two of the biggest shows in British TV history, The Benny Hill Show and Beadle’s About, for our seasonal rebrand this year. These shows are part of our national cultural heritage. Watching age-old comedy is a national Christmas tradition but for two decades these particular favourites have been missing from the festivities.
“We all need some festive cheer following the past year. Our viewers have inundated us with requests to show Benny Hill and we’re thrilled to be able to make this Christmas wish come true. But there are lots more crackers on That’s TV Christmas. We’ve lined up a Christmas TV nostalgia-fest with some of the most famous names in TV and music from the past four decades. We aim to give our viewers a special Christmas time full of magical memories. You better watch out… because Benny Hill and Jeremy Beadle are back on your telly this Christmas!”
Last year That’s TV’s Christmas re-brand attracted over 4.4 million viewers in the four weeks to 27 December 2020 (source: BARB). The channel has now extended its coverage and is available across the UK on Sky and Freesat as well as Freeview.
That’s TV will display on-screen messages that bring to the attention of viewers that some of the content featured in the shows reflects the standards of the time in which the shows were originally created.
The Christmas treats showing on That’s TV Christmas include:
- The Benny Hill Show – a selection of Benny Hill’s 20 years at Thames TV 1969 to 1989
- Beadle’s About – the sensational Saturday night hidden camera show which was a staple of ITV schedules from 1986 to 1996
- Carry on Christmas – four saucy Christmas specials from the Carry On crew made in 1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973
- Mike Yarwood Christmas Specials – the impressionist and comedian was a staple of the Christmas TV schedules throughout the ’70s and ’80s. That’s TV Christmas has secured the rights to his special Christmas shows from 1982, 1984 and 1985
- Kenny Everett’s New Year Specials– the madcap comedian’s New Year Specials from 1978, 1979 and 1980 with big name guest stars including Rod Stewart, Cliff Richard, David Bowie, David Essex, Billy Connolly, Bob Geldof and The Sex Pistols. Plus, as an extra treat for Kenny fans That’s TV Christmas will be showing special programming originally made for video release and never shown on TV starring friends including Cleo Rocos and the late Lionel Blair
- Tommy Cooper – a selection of specials from the one and only Tommy Cooper, master of mixed-up magic
MUSIC, ARTS AND DOCUMENTARY
- Pavarotti: A Christmas Special – the famed tenor performs holiday classics in this program at Notre Dame Cathedral in Montréal, joined by a boys choir, Les Petits Chanteur du Mont-Royal, and an adult choir, Les Disciples de Massenet (1978)
- Irish Tenor Trio: A Classic Christmas Tale – an eclectic mixture of traditional Christmas carols and Irish melodies performed by the Irish Tenor Trio
- 100% Christmas Hits – chart-busting Christmas hits from the ’60s to today
- A season of documentaries on the iconic people and events of the last century including ’70s Punk in London, Princess Diana, John Lennon, King George VI, Margaret Thatcher, David Bowie andMichael Rockefeller
Following the Christmas re-brand That’s TV’s normal services will resume with a brand-new schedule on 4 January 2022.
ABOUT THE BENNY HILL SHOW
The Benny Hill Show was a British burlesque comedy-variety series in Vaudeville-style created by British entertainer Benny Hill that aired from 23 December 1962 to 26 December 1968 on the BBC and from 19 December 1969 to 1 May 1989 on ITV.
Benny Hill was born Alfred Hall in 1925 in Southampton and is remembered by family and schoolmates as the ‘class clown’. As a teenager, he dropped out of school and worked as a milkman before serving in the British Army during World War II. During this time, he entertained the troops in variety shows and adopted his stage name, Benny Hill, in homage to comedian Jack Benny. Following the war, Hill performed in London music halls and got his break in TV after comparing a BBC entertainment show. His shows became a worldwide hit in the ’70s, earning Thames TV £26 million from sales. Hill died in London in 1992 aged 68, two months after suffering a heart attack.
When Hill died, American actor Jack Lemmon said: “In recent years my favourite comedian above all was Benny Hill, who was a master in his field. Most comedians deliver a barrage of powder puffs; Benny gave you a cannon shot.”
ABOUT BEADLE’S ABOUT
Beadle’s About ran on ITV from 1986 to 1996 presented by the practical joker, Jeremy Beadle. The show would play elaborate stunts and tricks on unsuspecting members of the public who were secretly recorded using hidden cameras. Beadle is credited with the democratisation of television, putting real people at the heart of his shows. The star was a huge supporter of Children with Leukaemia and raised more than £100 million for charity, earning an MBE in 2001. Beadle died of pneumonia in 2008 aged 59.
ABOUT KENNY EVERETT
Maurice Cole, better known as Kenny Everett, was an English comedian and radio disc jockey. After spells on pirate radio, he was one of the first DJs to join the BBC’s newly launched Radio 1 in 1967. Everett subsequently joined Capital Radio in London after being fired by the BBC in 1970 for remarks about a Government Minister’s wife. Everett was friends with celebrities including Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, who he met when presenting the Capital Radio Breakfast Show in 1974.
In the late ’70s Everett brought his zany radio characters and jingles to television making four series for ITV (Thames) before being poached by BBC1. The ITV shows were famous for featuring dances by the performance troupe, Hot Gossip, who were choreographed by Arlene Phillips, who went on to become a Dame and serve as one of the original judges on Strictly Come Dancing. All of the Thames shows featuring Arlene Phillips’ Hot Gossip, including the infamous New Year specials, will be broadcast on That’s TV Christmas.
Comedian Michael McIntyre has described Kenny Everett his “other Dad” because of the friendship between his parents and the star. McIntyre’s father was a scriptwriter on the Kenny Everett show.
Everett died in 1995, aged 50.
ABOUT THE THAT’S TV NETWORK
That’s TV Christmas (which will display as “That’s TV Xmas” on most TV sets) is operated by That’s TV, part of the That’s Media Group.
That’s TV runs 20 local TV services and a UK national channel currently branded as That’s TV Gold, all of which are rebranding to That’s TV Christmas from 18 November 2021 to 4 January 2022.
That’s TV’s local TV services (Freeview channel 7/8) serve over five million homes in 20 UK conurbations. That’s TV delivers locally focused news and information for each location alongside a network programming ‘spine’ comprising of nostalgic music, entertainment and documentaries.
That’s TV’s UK national channel launched in July 2021 and is now available UK-wide on Freeview channel 91, Sky channel 187 and Freesat channel 178. That’s TV’s UK-wide channel, branded as That’s TV Gold until 18 November 2021, is the ‘Home of Nostalgia’ and primarily delivers comedy, music and entertainment and documentaries about the people and events of the last century.
As part of its charter for social responsibility, That’s TV is accredited by the Living Wage Foundation as a Real Living Wage Employer.