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John Levene as Sergeant Benton in Doctor Who (circa 1970).
|Born||John Anthony Woods
24 December 1941
John Levene (born John Anthony Woods, 24 December 1941 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England) is an English actor. His most famous role was that of Sergeant Benton of UNIT on the television series Doctor Who.
He was working in a men's clothing store on Regents Street in London when Telly Savalas encouraged him to sign up as an actor for The Dirty Dozen. He failed to get a part, as he was not a union member, but this got him interested in acting. On joining Equity, he adopted the professional name John Levene to avoid confusion with another John Woods who was already registered with the union.
He made an uncredited appearance as a Cyberman in the 1967 Doctor Who serial The Moonbase and as a Yeti in The Web of Fear before making his first appearance as then-Corporal Benton in the Doctor Who serial The Invasion in 1968. The Web of Fear was, incidentally, the serial that introduced Benton's commanding officer Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, though he was only a colonel at the time. Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT were featured heavily in early 1970s Doctor Who, and the promoted Sergeant Benton also became a regular.
In 1977, following his final appearance on Doctor Who, Levene gave up acting as a career to set up his own audio visual company, Genesis Communications, and has directed well over 45 audio visuals and live events for various clients including the Ford Motor Company, British Airways, KFC, Amway and Revlon.
He has also worked as an entertainer on cruise liners and has now emigrated to the USA where he has returned to acting under the name John Anthony Blake. Blake is his mother's maiden name, and he had a much better relationship with her than with his father.
He is married and is the father of two from his previous marriage. His latest acting work was on an independent movie called Cannibalistic. He has also acted on an episode of Big Bad Beetleborgs, industrial videos, and has done some voice-over work for Disney and The Queen Mary Hotel, among others.
On 28 September 2012, his music album The Ballads of Sergeant Benton was released.
He returned to the UK in 2012 to promote himself and his album at several Doctor Who events.
- Lyons, Steve and Chris Howarth, "The Good Soldier" Doctor Who Magazine, #230, 27 September 1995, Marvel Comics UK Ltd., p. 44 (interview with Levene).
- "The Ballads of Sergeant Benton: John Levene: Amazon.co.uk: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-11.