Ben Miller's Radio 2 thing about Benny Hill is in my current queue of things to be listened to, and it will be interesting to see how it views Hill's demise. The more I think about it, especially since a particularly thought provoking email on the subject from Matt Rudd, his worst crime was sticking with producer Dennis Kirkland for so long. Dennis was the perfect producer for him at one time, but not by 1989. I met Dennis once, and liked him enormously, but by the end of their association, his idea of what Hill should be doing had become outmoded. His continued belief in its validity can be seen in the shows he made at Central in the mid-1990s with Freddie Starr, which are latter-day Benny Hill shows in all but name.
I don't think it's madness to suggest that someone like Geoff Posner or Alan Nixon could have taken over and reinvented him. He was still a very capable comic performer, let down simply by material and format. The main sticking point would have been Hill's neediness. Throughout his career, he needed reassurance and molly-coddling from his producers. According to Brian Tesler, studio tapes of Hill's early shows are notable for the number of times when Hill stops and calls out for Philip Jones. The likes of Posner and Nixon would have understood and been able to supply that level of care, undoubtedly, but whether Hill would have trusted them is another matter. It's an imponderable that nonetheless remains worth pondering.
Of course, had he lived even five years longer he'd have had the full wanky student ironic veneration treatment, for what that's worth. Let's not forget, though, his best stuff - the BBC shows and the earlier Thames shows - is top-notch TV comedy.