By D'ARCY POWERS
BLONDE Sue Upton, leader of Benny Hill's Angels for 13 years, admitted last night: "I'm being upstaged - by my own kids!"
The veteran funnyman has signed up Sue's son Richard, five, and her three-year-old daughter Louise as regulars for his smash-hit shows.
And in the new series, starting next Wednesday on ITV, Richard and Louise even get their own billing - as part of Hill's LITTLE Angels.
Richard and Louise first appeared with Benny, 64, when he made his TV comeback after a one-year layoff. And he was so pleased with them that they are both appearing in ALL the new shows he is recording this year.
Sue, 30, who made her name scampering across the screen in stockings and suspenders, laughed: "I'm not sure whether I love little Richard or hate him at the moment!
"He has become a real scene-stealer and, I am sad to say, he has started stealing the limelight from me.
"Benny says that Richard is his main 'littley' character. Richard is the one in the blue baseball hat and he loves working with Benny.
"He comes across as a real Dennis The Menace kind of character. And that's him all over - he doesn't have to act much because he's like that all the time.
"He has such a cheeky face, he pokes his tongue out and he looks really funny with a cap on because his hair sticks out. And just like his little sister, he thinks that Benny is wonderful."
Sue has been in Benny's shows since 1976. And over the years the two have become firm friends.
Benny has often been to stay at the Essex home of Sue and her husband Roger Whatling, a builder and decorator.
Richard and Louise call the millionaire comedian Uncle Benny.
"You should see Benny when he is staying here," said Sue. "The children stamp on his toes and shove him about and he'll be down on all fours giving them piggy-back rides. He loves them and they love him back.
"Once I said I was going to buy a pet rabbit and he insisted on coming along to the shop to help me choose one.
"Then when Rosie Rabbit gave birth to seven baby bunnies, I had to ring up and give him the good news.
"When he decided he needed some children for some sketches he was writing, he asked if Richard and Louise would like to be in them.
"I wouldn't dream of putting them into his shows if they didn't enjoy it. But they have such a lot of fun.
"And at the end of a day's filming, Benny always produces a bag of goodies for them.
"He will have quietly gone off to the shops to buy them some sweets or something. He is incredibly generous without spoiling them too much.
"He never forgets their birthdays and if he can't give them a present in person then there will always be a parcel for them in the post.
"He's taken them out to places like Battersea Park, on trips to the seaside and to see the Moscow State Circus when it was in London.
"Benny likes to take us all with him and make it a fun family outing.
"He is especially good with Louise in the studio.
"Sometimes she will be asked to do something for a sketch and, like any small child, she'll decide once in a while that she doesn't want to do it. That's when Benny walks over to her, says, 'Come on, my little sausage' and she goes off and does it.
"Now Louise often toddles over to him during filming and says, 'I really love you, Uncle Benny.'
"The trouble is we have finished filming for a few months and the children have enjoyed it so much that they are pestering me to find out when they are going to do some more.
"They are not working exclusively on Benny's shows, so if they get offers then obviously I would consider them.
"But for them there will be no one quite like their Uncle Benny."
Sue was a teenager when she first auditioned for Benny. She did a dance routine, and took part in a sketch.
A week later Sue was told she was in his show. Since then she has never been out of it.
She said: "I never dreamed I would still be working with Benny 13 years later. These days I am playing more character parts in his shows, such as little old ladies.
"Some of the other girls are amazed that I agree to do them. But I have done my share of roles in stockings and suspenders and now I'm happy to move on to other things.
"There will never be a shortage of sexy young girls wanting to look pretty on Benny's shows. In next week's programme I team up with Benny to do a double act as Laurel and Hardy.
"He has wanted to do a sketch as them for a long time and he went to endless trouble to make sure we were a good likeness.
"I've had so much fun in the show over the years - and some crazy moments. Once I was wearing a pair of satin trousers and they split because they were so tight.
"Another time I was dressed in a basque, stockings and suspenders for a dance routine and as I stretched over a chair I overbalanced.
"I ended up falling flat on my back with my legs in the air while the cameras were rolling.
"Naturally, I'm very proud that my children should have followed me into Benny's shows.
"Everybody says Richard, especially, has quite a gift for acting, though he's a little terror.
"Mind you, he could always take over my nickname on the show - they call me Up-to-no-good!"