When the Falklands War occurred, and just after, British troops in the Falklands referred to the Islanders as "Bennies", after the simplistic motel handyman, often to be seen wearing a hat like the islanders. The simile wasn't taken to kindly by the islanders themselves, so the troops were told to desist. This lead to officials being puzzled on learning that the islanders were now called "Stills" - this was because they were "Still Bennies".
Later, troops were told to desist from using the term 'Stills'. Islanders were subsequently referred to as 'Andy's' - a corruption of, 'And they're', and hence "Andy Still Bennies". See more »
The March 1975 civil ceremony wedding of a fairly anonymous motel owner to a businessman - Meg Richardson and Hugh Mortimer - at Birmingham Register Office sees the city centre thronged with well-wishers; similarly the later affirmation/blessing at Birmingham Cathedral has a packed congregation, outside police supervision and reporters. Whilst in reality this reflects the interest of the general public in the show and its production, in narrative terms it is completely nonsensical. See more »
For about 25 years, this was British TV's best loved bad soap. Shaky sets, some over the top storylines and a host of okay actors revelling in the whole affair.
Set in a fictitious Midlands town, it centres on the staff and guests at the eponymous Motel - in the early days run by Meg Mortimer (Noelle Gordon) and later by Nicola Freeman (Gabrielle Drake).
The best characters included irascible Scots chef Shughie McFee (from The Great Escape); David Hunter (Ronald Allen from a Night to Remember) and Hammer veteran Sandor Eles (Countess Dracula) as a cliched chef.
Look out too for the late Jeremy Sinden (Donald's son) who went on to play one of the ill-fated pilots in Star Wars - a little movie he shot inbetween breaks from Crossroads.
However, head and shoulders above them all was scruffy, backward, lovable Benny Hawkins who never had much luck - his gypsy girlfriend was knocked down and killed on his wedding day - but with his woolly hat and good heart, he was the Midlands version of Forrest Gump long before Tom Hanks cornered the market in loveable simpletons.
The whole thing was repackaged and revamped as Neighbours, a show also boasting a Tony Hatch theme tune. At one point in the late Seventies, Paul McCartney and Wings even provided a rockier theme tune for this Seventies slice of nonsense, nicely spoofed as Acorn Antiques in Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV.
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