FRESH moves are being made to get a statue in Southampton of the city’s famous son and world celebrated comic genius Benny Hill.

A campaign to honour the comedian is being stepped up on the 25th anniversary of his death.

TV critic Garry Bushell has teamed up with sculptor Graham Ibbeson to put up a bronze of the comedian in Southampton.

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Showbiz legends Barbara Windsor, pictured below, Vicki Michelle, Rick Wakeman and Joe Pasquale, pictured right, are among the stars backing the initiative which aims to raise £60,000.

The fibreglass mould for the statue has already been made by Graham who has produced similar tributes to Cary Grant and Eric Morecambe in their home towns.

He has already completed a mould of Hill’s famous Fred Scuttle character.

Garry said: “Benny was Britain’s biggest ever TV comedy export. He was shown in more than 100 countries and adored the world over.

“Benny was a comedy genius and it’s a national scandal that his legacy is unrecognised in his own country.

“That’s why I’m leading the campaign for a statue to be raised to honour his memory.”

Garry, who was a friend of the comic, added: “Southampton should be proud of someone as great as Benny.”

At the height of his popularity in the 1970s, The Benny Hill Show on Thames Television was one of the biggest shows on British TV.

The vaudeville-style saucy slapstick was, and remains, massively popular around the world.

Charlie Chaplin reportedly had a shelf of Benny Hill films in his office.

Much of Benny’s inspiration for his unique brand of humour came from his early years working around Southampton and Eastleigh.

A spokesman for the Eastleigh Historical Society, said: “He set out to be the best and he didn’t look back.

“A lot of his characters began here. He’d visit local clothing stores, asking for clothes for vicars and the like.”

A job driving milkcarts for Hanns Dairy in Eastleigh famously gave him the inspiration for his 1971 gold top hit Ernie, The Fastest Milkman in the West.

Alfred Hawthorne Hill was born in 1924 in Bridge Street, Southampton.

It was from the shopping isles of an Eastleigh store that Benny Hill built a stock of impersonations which helped turn him into one of the world’s greatest comics.

Alfie Hill was 16 when he joined the Leigh Road branch of F W Woolworth & Co as a stockroom clerk.

He lived alone for many years in his mother’s house in Westrow Gardens, Southampton.

Benny, who attended Taunton’s School, left Southampton at the age of 17 bound for London’s theatreland. By 1955 he had his own television show. He died in 1992 aged 68 but there is still no large-scale memorial to one of television’s most popular stars.

His grave at Southampton’s Hollybrook Cemetery was broken into after rumours he was buried with his collection of gold jewellery.