On Tuesday, December 17, 2002, I had the privilege and honor of having another lunch with Sue, accompanied again by her friend Ian Freeman. We had a wonderful, long, informal chat over lunch; afterward, at one of the bars in my hotel, Sue answered a series of written questions - some posed by me, others sent in by other fans. She spoke her answers into my pocket tape recorder, and I now present my transcription of her answers. I've done only the very minimum amount of editing necessary for clarity, and to take out all the pauses, hesitations, and so forth that characterize all impromptu speaking. The gist of each question is indicated in square brackets. Sue is the speaker, except where indicated otherwise. And now, without any further ado, here's Sue Upton, in her own words.
When a question is linked, click on it to hear her answer!
Sue: This is info on Sue Upton. "When is your birthday, and where was I born?" My birthday's in November, a late time of the year, and I was actually born in a place called Chadwell Heath, which is in Romford in Essex. And Essex is a county which is east of London, hence I do have a London accent. The date of my birthday is actually on the 9th of November, and I'm a Scorpio.
From the early age of three years old, I actually started in a local dancing school, which became my learning foundation to actually enter the whole big wide world of show business. I actually was at this dancing school from the age of three till when I left school at sixteen. And during that time, I danced and learned ballet dancing, tap, modern jazz, I did sort of acting work and singing, drama, and had a fantastic time there. But in the meantime, I did go to an ordinary day school where I actually took my, what we call here, GCE O-levels, so I could have a normal education as well. I was actually still at school in my last year, having just taken my O-levels, when I actually got my first professional dancing job, which was working in London near Leicester Square, in a nightclub-restaurant place. This actual restaurant-theater place was called the Strand Corner House, at Leicester Square.
And I think from a very early age I did always want to be a performer. I think I was very star-struck and always enjoyed being the center of attraction; I loved being on the stage and performing in front of lots of people. This really was the basis for my training for entering the world of show business, and I took all my dancing and singing exams. And when I was actually sixteen, I passed out, to be a proper teacher...
Ian: At sixteen, you passed out! [laughs]
Me: To be a what teacher?
Sue: A teacher! I'll start again... When I was sixteen years old, I actually passed exams... [breaks up laughing]
Ian: And you never looked back! [laughs]
Sue: When I was six... when I was sixt... [laughs]
Me [laughing]: I've only got three of these tapes, you know!
Sue [To Ian and myself]: Shut up! [laughs]
Ian [to Sue]: No more wine for you!
Sue [recovering her composure]: When I was sixteen, I entered for my teacher's training course to become a professional dancing teacher. And I passed this when I was sixteen years old, and I actually did teach young children tap dancing and ballet dancing, at the actual school where I trained from the age of three years old. But I did decide that being a teacher wasn't really the life for me. As much as I enjoyed teaching youngsters, I actually wanted to be a performer rather than a teacher.
While I was at-school age, I actually entered the modeling profession, from about the age of thirteen years old. I actually did child modeling, and modeled for the mail-order catalogs and doing advertising work, and this really continued into my sort of twenties, early twenties, and I was a very successful model. I also had a very great career in modeling as a foot and a hand model, which comes as a surprise to many people. I don't think the public realize that models are specified in various parts of the body, and that there's just as much money to be made in showing your hands and your feet as there are in showing anything else! And I had a very good time, actually, doing this.
I've never been a glamour model, but was approached for a number of years to appear as a Page Three model for one of our daily newspapers called "The Sun" newspaper, but I never actually said yes - I was always a bit too shy. Anyway, I think as time has arisen now, as one gets older, you think a little bit differently, and I would consider, maybe, a double-page spread now if the money was right.
My agent at the time sent in a couple of photographs to Benny Hill, to see whether I would be suitable. He liked the look of my pictures, and arranged with the agent for me to go along for an audition. The audition took place at Benny's flat, where he actually lived, and this was a normal procedure at the time. I felt rather nervous on first attending, but as soon as I met Benny, he put me very much at ease. He actually asked me what I did, whether I could sing, dance, act, et cetera, I had various scripts to read through, did some singing with him, and basically that was the audition. And it was about a month later when I actually heard that he liked me, thought I had a great twinkle, and that he would like to use me on the show.
Ian: Were there other girls on the same day auditioning, do you remember?
Sue: To my knowledge, I was the only girl that he actually auditioned on that day, but there were lots of auditions going on at the time.
To film an hour-long episode of The Benny Hill Show actually took about six weeks, all in all. That was from beginning to end. We actually started by doing a week's location filming work for each hour-long show, and then the internal studio work was done at a later date, normally about three, four weeks later. Everything was shot out of sequence: we would always do the location work first, just to get that done and out of the way, and then the studio work was done rather higgledy-piggledy, it was just really what came along in the script at the time. And during those three weeks of internal shooting at the studios, the Hill's Angels dance routines were just fitted in during those three weeks of filming.
We used to have a week to rehearse for the girls' dance routines, and that was actually a week of rehearsing including a couple of days in the studio extra for the actual filming. Some days, depending on the actual type of the routine, they, obviously some took longer than others. We didn't always have The Ladybirds as a trio singing the backing vocals, it just really depended. Sometimes depending on the type of song, we would have different individual solo singers.