Benson is an American television sitcom created by Susan Harris as a spin-off from the soap opera parody Soap. The title character, portrayed by Robert Guillaume, originally appeared on Soap as the wise-cracking yet level-headed African American butler for the highly dysfunctional Tate family.
The series originally aired in the USA on ABC from 13 September, 1979 to 19 April, 1986. There are 158 half-hour episodes in seven seasons.
Benson originally aired in South Africa on the SABC. It premiered on DStv's M-Net Series channel on Saturday 31 May 2008, at 21h30.
See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times (for M-Net Series only).
In this spin-off from Soap, Benson the black butler - the only sane member of the Tate household - was sent by Jessica Tate to help her widowed cousin, Gov. James Gatling.
Gov. Gatling was a sweet, well-meaning man; but terribly naïve. The rest of the household included Katie, the Governor’s daughter, Gretchen the Housekeeper and Clayton and Taylor – the Governor’s aides.
Benson, though theoretically only in charge of the governor's household, kept order around the executive mansion. He was in constant battle with Gretchen, helped raise little Katie, and generally assisted the meek governor in deciding what to do, both politically and personally.
In 1981 Benson was appointed state budget director, giving him added responsibilities as well as his own secretary, Denise (who later married Pete). The promotion came just in time for Benson to help the governor in his campaign for a second term, which fortunately for the series he won, as an Independent - after his party dumped him.
Benson's former employee, Jessica Tate, showed up in ghostly form in 1983 to remind him how far he had progressed.
Benson's remarkable rise continued. In 1984 he was elected Lieutenant Governor, and in 1986 - in the series' final original episodes - he ran against his mentor Gov. Gatling for the governorship itself, with his new fiancée Diane serving as his campaign manager.
The bitter campaign strained the two men's friendship, but in the end they reconciled, reminisced, and settle in to watch the election results together.
In true TV cliff-hanger tradition, the outcome was not revealed, so viewers never did find out who won. However one thing was clear - Benson the insolent butler had come a long way.
(Note: no broadcast information is available for the SABC transmission of Benson in the 1980s - these times and dates are for M-Net Series only.)
Season 1 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 31 May 2008 | Finale: 15 November 2008 | Saturdays, 21h30
Season 2 (22 episodes)
Premiere: 23 May 2009 | Finale: 17 October 2009 | Saturdays, 20h30
Season 3 (22 episodes)
Premiere: 24 October 2009 | Finale: 20 March 2010 | Saturdays, 20h30
Season 4 (22 episodes)
Premiere: 4 September 2010 | Finale: 29 January 2011 | Saturdays, 21h00