From the Sun, July 13, 1989

EXCLUSIVE: The woman closest to TV's top comic talks to The Sun


A HILL OF A GUY!

Sue Upton lifts the lid on life with 'big kid' Benny


Only a handful of people have ever become close to multi-millionaire Benny Hill. And they have always refused to talk about him. Until today.

Hill's Angel Sue Upton, 34, has made the 64-year-old comic genius part of her family. She shared his triumphs and tragedies while working on his smash-hit TV shows. He shares fun-filled holidays at her home in [town deleted by webmaster], Essex.

Here saucy Sue finally breaks her 14-year silence as she tells STUART HIGGINS all about her life with telly's best-loved funnyman.



There can't be many women in the world who have taken coffee and biscuits to Benny Hill in bed. I am one of them.

I have walked into the spare room in my house to see him snuggled down in his stripy pajamas, sleeping like a baby.

I give him a gentle nudge and he comes round, full of smiles. And that's the way he is for the rest of the day.

If I don't wake him my two children will take up the coffee and biscuits. They knock on the door and then burst in shouting: "Wake up, Ben! Wake up, Ben!" He loves it.

I am lucky to be close to Benny, and over the years I have come to learn a lot about the real man behind the superstar, and the secret side of himself that he never talks about.

When I was pregnant with my first child Richard five years ago, he was always on the phone asking if I could "feel the little fella moving around."

Bouquet

After the birth I rang him straight away and he jumped into a chauffeur-driven car and came to the hospital.

The nurses couldn't believe it. He sent me the biggest bouquet of flowers I have ever seen, in a box about 6ft by 3ft.

The room was crammed with flowers and when I got home the house looked like a florist's - they filled eight vases.

He stayed in my room in the hospital for hours but he wouldn't hold the baby. I tried to persuade him but he said he was too nervous. He told me: "I'll give him a cuddle later on."

We are his substitute family and I am probably the nearest thing he has got to a wife. I am his shoulder to cry on.

It's me who reminds him about his weight, urging him to eat properly and have regular check-ups. He probably looks on me as a nagging wife - I know he calls me his old mother hen!

He was staying with me a couple of weeks ago. He becomes part of the family and joins in with the children, playing football and badminton in the garden, and letting them jump all over him.

I always try to let him do as he pleases and let him have a lie-in, but even on the first Monday morning he was up having breakfast with us.

Pictures

I told him to stay in bed for an hour because I had to take my daughter Louise, who is three, to playschool. His eyes immediately lit up and he said: "Can I come?"

We drove to the school and he just walked in and said: "Hello, I'm pleased to meet you."

He chatted to the teachers, and all the children wanted to show him their pictures. He spent time with all of them. Then he stayed around signing autographs. There were more mums than children queuing up.

Next day he wanted to walk my boy Richard to school. He went straight into the classroom and started asking the children what they were doing.

Later he went to collect Richard by himself. He just congregated at the gates along with all the other parents, waiting to catch Richard's eye as he came out.

Benny absolutely loves children. Mine look on him as part of the family.

They have appeared in the Benny Hill Show and he treats them like a grandfather would, sending them birthday and Christmas presents and making a fuss of them. He gets lots of ideas from being with kids.

He always brings his little notebook with him and I sometimes catch him frantically making notes after the kids have said or done something funny.

Excited

While he was with us we went off for a day trip to the seaside at Southend.

Benny is like a big kid. He gets as excited as the children when we go on an outing.

We have been all over the place. He loves fairgrounds but he always gets mobbed.

He even joins in our shopping trips. When we go to Sainsburys he comes with us and pushes our trolley round the store. No one bats an eyelid. Some people have recognized me and not him!

He is not fussy about what he eats. He does love his food, whether it's Indian, Chinese, anything. He eats everything and he does have a problem with his waistline but he does try to diet.

When he is staying with us he always takes us out one night for a slap-up meal. The rest of the time we're one big family.

After a meal, he likes to put his feet up and watch the telly over a couple of beers - especially if there is boxing on. He'll stay up until 3am watching it.

He arrives at our place in hired chauffeur-driven cars like Rolls-Royces, Mercedes, and Volvos, but he doesn't own a car of his own.

While he was here last he told me he wanted to visit a lady in the area who lived alone.

He told me, "I want to go round and have a chat and a cuppa with her."

Amazing

I drove him and spent a couple of hours there. They didn't stop talking, she was telling him all about her garden, how she had not been so well lately and he just sat there taking it all in.

It was amazing to watch. She didn't care about him being the famous Benny Hill. He was simply her friend - and she was delighted to see him.

We were all surprised when Thames axed Benny's show last month.

But he is full of optimism about the future, and says he will make programmes abroad, probably in Australia or America.

I still get royalties when the old shows are screened around the world. The other day I got a cheque from Swaziland - for 6.74!

Husband Roger's proud of a pin-up

Sue's husband Roger, a painter and decorator, isn't worried about the world ogling his wife's curves on Benny's shows.

He says: "I'm proud of Sue. The show's style is tongue-in-cheek and it's not offensive. You see more outrageous sights on the Majorcan beaches."

Roger adds, "Benny's like one of the family. I treat him as a pal. We sit and watch the telly over a couple of beers. He often phones Sue for advice or encouragement about projects."

Roger spent two months refurbishing Benny's house in Southampton last year. He fitted a new kitchen, central heating, new carpets, two new loos and new curtains.