Television and Radio Interviews
Scotland TV — Louise is her usual dazzling, charming self as she and David
Essex discuss the All The Fun Of The Fair tour in this video interview on
Scotland TV's The Five-Thirty Show.
This is a rare opportunity for Louise's many fans outside the UK to see her and
hear her speak out-of-character.
Liverpool's City Talk
Radio 105.9 — Louise gave a very interesting interview about Benny Hill to
Dean Sullivan. To read the transcription of the interview
FOR INTERNET AND PRINT INTERVIEWS CLICK HERE.
The Sullivan Show
Hosted by Dean Sullivan
Liverpool’s City Talk Radio 105.9
Friday, 17 April 2009, 1:30 PM
Dean Sullivan = DS
Louise English = LOUISE
Let’s give our listeners a clip from your career.
[Plays the theme to The Benny Hill Show
(Yakety Sax).] Does that bring back some happy memories?
Oh, very happy memories.
Benny Hill, how were you involved with Benny Hill? Were you on the TV show?
Yes, I did his television shows up until 1986.
Were you one of the girls running around the fields?
I was. I was 16 when I met him. He formed a group called
Hill’s Angels about a
year or two after I was in the show, and I was doing all the sketches with him
and sang on the shows with him, and he use to write things for me to do with
him, which was great.
And what was he actually like as a man? Because, you know, you here all these
stories that he died on his own in a little flat somewhere with stacks of money
About this time of year it was, Easter. He was a very, very lovely, sensitive
very private man, who I think was actually frightened of being hurt by people.
So he went into, sort of, gradually—not reclusive—but he just kept himself with
the people he knew and loved.
And I can
quite understand that now—now that I’m older, I can. At the time I always
thought he’s always on his own, bless him. But he loved his mum and dad, he
loved his close family, but he wasn’t reclusive.
He was a very happy, happy,
I wondered, but he was successful, highly successful.
it’s a shame that the genre of comedy he was a master of is sometimes frowned
upon these days, you know.
Do you think it still is? Or, do you think there are other things to frown upon
now? I think there is, isn’t there? Like people playing tricks on radio shows
and things. I think that’s worse.
I think that kind of behavior…I mean the old school, the
Morecambe and Wise, Benny Hill – they were all such gentlemen and so lovely. I’m
so privileged that I remember meeting them when I was 16. I was just a baby,
I just remember everyone being so lovely to one another and
Eric Morecambe would shake Benny by the hand and say, “Well done, Benny. We’re
so thrilled for you that your show has done so well in America.”
And Benny would say, “Thank you very much, sir.” That was
great respect. It was just fantastic.
If you’ve just tuned in you are listening to City Talk 105.9, the voice of
Liverpool. My special guest in the café at this hour is one of the stars from
All The Fun Of The Fair, alongside David Essex. I’m joined by Louise English.
Yes, a gentleman, but I can remember reading after he died
they found un-cashed checks in his flat from TV series and things.
Umm, yeah, yeah, Dennis [Kirkland] was there when he was found. He was on his
own over Easter because it was just Easter and he had been to see me in
My Girl on Wednesday, which was just prior. He died on a Sunday.
And he came to the matinee and I was in it with Les Dennis,
who’s from Liverpool, as you know, and Benny wanted to have a picture taken with me, which
is something he never used to do. He was always very private and quiet, but he
insisted on a photo shoot that I had to organize, which I thought was a bit odd.
But, looking back…
What was it for then?
Just, he wanted a picture with me. I didn’t know what it was for. He just said,
“Get the publicity people in, “ and he came in and we had pictures.
And Les was there and Les took the pictures, and
the pictures they used when Benny died—on the Monday morning.
I don’t know whether he knew he was going to die or
whether…he was obviously feeling very ill and he had a very bad heart problem.
Whether or not he was told I don’t know, but he wouldn’t leave my dressing room.
He didn’t want to go, and at the half-hour call, a half-hour before the show,
the company manager is coming in and said, “All right, Miss English, guests will have to go
now,” and he had no intention of going.
Well what did he do then?
He stayed until the five-minute call, and then he very reluctantly left. He was
like a dad to me, you see. I grew up with him.
That is unusual. If people don’t know who are listening, backstage there are all
those rituals. People have to be out of the dressing room by five-to-seven.
So, you said he was like a dad to you?
Yeah, he was. So, when I said goodbye to him, I felt really…I knew there was
something not right. I knew there was something wrong. But, I couldn’t…I just
kept thinking, “Oh, well it will be fine. We’ll get Easter over.”
And when you’re doing a show, it’s not that you’re
flippant, it’s just that you have to go on stage. You have to. You’re called to.
You can’t just say, “Oh, I think I’d like the night off. Please, can I go off
with Benny for something to eat?” because I was a bit worried about him, but I
couldn’t. I had to stay and do the show.
He was very happy though because he had been given a new
contract with Central Television and he was going to do a new series because,
you know, he was sacked from Thames. And he had Dennis Kirkland…
How did he react to that?
He took it very well. I was furious for him.
Did he? Because Benny Hill was with Thames for a long time wasn’t he?
32 years, or something, wasn’t it?
Yeah, yeah, and he was just called into the office—and just on a—and they
insisted that he go in on his own. They said, “We don’t want your agent with
your director with you.”
And he thought it was just to do another promo for the
south of France.
Because, I think he just picked up an award from the Cannes Film Festival.
Why do you think they made this decision?
Well, I think it was the controller’s wife who was a bit of a snob. It’s, “Oh,
dear, we can’t have all that.
running about. It’s not
on. It’s not on.”
And you know, you become out of favour, don’t you, as a
comedian? Which I think he accepted. You know, you have your day, and he had his
own show for forty-five years…
And, yeah, Benny Hill wasn’t just about chasing scantily-dressed girls around a
No, he was quite marvelous with the sketches and things…
Yeah, and created great characters as well.
Yeah, but as you say, it was that sort of press attention and media—sort or
pressurizing—I think just on the girls running around and, actually when you see
the shows, there was just a tiny clip of that sometimes.
But he was a great comedian and he was huge in America, and his shows went to
70 countries around the world which I still get repeat money from, and it’s
still a great interest in America, I still get lots of letters.
And he was absolutely enormous, and Michael Jackson was
desperate to meet him. Everybody, everybody—Liza Minelli, Burt Reynolds—they all
wanted to be in the show. They wanted to do anything in the show. They wanted to
run around at the end with the girls at the end, just to do anything on it.
So to be in something that was so phenomenally large—he was
just so quiet and sweet about it.
So, Louise, it must have been a huge—obviously you were very close to
him—obviously from what you said…
So, it must have been a terrible shock to find out he died.
Terrible shock. I heard on the radio going home. Terrible shock, yeah.
How did it all start for you? Were you always interested in becoming an actress,
Yes, I’m afraid I was because…
Treading the boards.
My mother was and so was my father—a musician in the orchestra pits.
Well, tell us about your mum and dad.
Well, she had a beautiful singing voice, and my mum was in the Evening Stars
with Leslie Crowther and they used to do summer season shows.
And there was one year she was at the Winter Gardens and
Benny was at the Lido with Reg
Varney, and I think my mum was only 17 or 18. And he [Benny] was in love with
someone that was in my mum’s show, or something had happened—there was a romance
going on. But she turned him down and Benny was very upset. So, I think my mum
took him out for egg and chips and a cup of tea to cheer him up.
So, they sort of had a great respect for each other and
knew each other. Bob Monkhouse was there as well, writing shows. There was a
great kind of union they had really.
Mum said that she always knew he [Benny] was going to do
well. He always thought he would just be a writer.
You see, he wrote all these scripts and took them to the
BBC when he was very young. He was about 27, and the man said, “Oh yes, we would
like to do the shows.”
And he [Benny] said, “Well, who do you think would be able
to do them?”
And the controller of the BBC said, “You, Mr Hill. We’re
going to give it to you,” and that’s how he got his own show in the 50s.
Oh, he was lovely. You would have loved him.
He was just
great fun, and just a lovely, normal guy.
And the money you see, you mentioned the checks, well, the
money wasn’t important to him. He used to give a lot of it away, a lot of it to
Do you still miss him?
Terribly, I do, yeah.
I mean you mentioned earlier it was this time of year when he passed away. So,
it’s one of those things that always comes back to you.
What are some of your—let’s not be miserable—what are some
of your favourite parts? I’ve just been reading through, skimming through,
CV as we call it. You’ve done lots of musicals and shows haven’t you?
I’ve done lots of plays too. I try to balance them out with plays.
Because you know what it’s like when you’re an actor. So, you know, if you do
too much singing: “Oh, well she is not an actress.” So, you’ve got to always
keep proving yourself, which is exhausting.
And I think I’ve spent my whole career proving I could do
it, from the age of 16. Particularly having been on The Benny Hill Show, it’s
all people want to talk about or remember you by. So you have to balance with a
few bits of Shakespeare and bits and bobs.
Absolutely. Any favourite roles?
All of them, I can honestly say. I like this one at the moment
[Rosa in All The
Fun Of The Fair] because it’s the first I’ve ever played a very hard woman, and
I think it’s the first time I’ve come on stage not smiling.
And isn’t it great to be given the opportunity to create a brand-new character?
Yes, it’s wonderful. That doesn’t happen very often.
Well, it doesn’t, especially in the world of musicals as well. Because very
often you’ll have people say, “I saw so-and-so in such-a-thing, but she wasn’t
good as…” because they make that comparison.
Of course they do. Like when I did Me and My Girl, there were so many Me and My
Girls before me, Emma Thompson being one of them. But, doing something so marvelous as this… is that yes, you are.
You’re on the CD first because it’s the first thing they’re
doing. And David [Essex] is thinking of filming it too, which would be amazing.
But, I must say that working with him [David Essex] has been an absolute
pleasure and delight.
Well, Louise, it’s been an absolute pleasure and delight talking to you.
You’re at the Empire until Saturday?
Saturday, yes, please come and see it.
I will do, I’m going to come tomorrow.
We had a great crowd last night—danced standing up, but I love Liverpool. Liverpool never let me down.
Liverpool has great audiences.
It’s been great talking to you, Louise.
Back to Top
Excerpted from The
Hosted by Stephen Jardine and Rachel McTavish
STV (Scotland TV-Glasgow); (www.youtube.com)
Thursday, 6 November 2008, 5:30 PM
Rachel McTavish = RM
Louise English = LOUISE
Stephen Jardine = SJ
David Essex = DE
RM: David joins us now with his co-star Louise English. Thank you
both very much for coming in. Louise you're equally experienced. There'll be a lot of dads sitting at home
going "I recognize that face". You were one of the main Benny Hill ladies,
LOUISE: I was.
SJ: Dee dee dee dee deedilie dee...
LOUISE: That's right, I was. I worked with him for
about eight years. I was sixteen when I first did the shows and I learned a
lot about comedy and we worked with super people and I met some amazing people.
And the show did so well in America. And it was a great experience, a great
start, a great kicking-off in the profession for me.
SJ: What was he like?
LOUISE: He was a lovely man and very shy, very professional, hard-working,
expected a lot. A great experience and great fun. But obviously I went on to do
theatre and musicals.
RM: But the pair of you (Louise and David Essex), the amount you've covered...
LOUISE: I know, I don't know how we do it. (With a friendly nudge to David
Essex) How do we do it? We keep going and going don't we?
DE: Louise is fantastic. She's the resident gypsy fortune teller at the fair...
LOUISE: (With a laugh and patting David Essex's arm) Thank you Dave, I'll give
you five pounds later.
RM: Had your paths ever crossed before over the years?
LOUISE: No never, had they? I don't think? Have I ever met you before? (Laughing
to David Essex) I don't think I have? No, I would have known.
RM: (To David Essex) Were you solely responsible for casting this? Was it
DE: We saw a lot of people to play Rosa, the part that Louise plays, and she was
just the one.
SJ: Good to meet you both.
LOUISE: Thank you very much. Thank you.