Hywel Bennett

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Hywel Bennett
Bennett in 1966
Hywel Thomas Bennett

(1944-04-08)8 April 1944
Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Died25 July 2017(2017-07-25) (aged 73)
Cardiff, Wales
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1965–2007
(m. 1970; div. 1988)

Sandra Layne Fulford
(m. 1998)
RelativesAlun Lewis (brother)
Amelia Warner (niece)

Hywel Thomas Bennett[1][a] (8 April 1944 – 25 July 2017) was a Welsh film and television actor. Bennett is perhaps best known for his leading roles in films including The Family Way (1966) and for playing the titular James Shelley in the television sitcom Shelley (1979–1992).

Having played opposite Hayley Mills in The Family Way and Twisted Nerve and starred as Private Brigg in the comedy film The Virgin Soldiers (1969), Bennett's screen roles continued into the 1970s in films such as Loot (1970) and Percy (1971). Bennett's character, Ricki Tarr, was pivotal in the BBC serial based on John le Carré's novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979). Among his later roles was crime boss Jack Dalton in EastEnders during 2003.

Early life[edit]

Bennett was born in Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the son of Sarah Gwen (née Lewis) and Gorden Bennett.[3] He was the brother of actor Alun Lewis, who is best known for playing Vic Windsor in Emmerdale. Bennett was brought up in London from an early age, and attended Sunnyhill School, Streatham, Henry Thornton Grammar School, Clapham (1955–62) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[4]


Bennett debuted on stage in the role of Ophelia in a Queen's Theatre production of Hamlet in 1959.[4]

His first film appearance was as Leonardo in the 1966 Italian Il marito è mio e l'ammazzo quando mi pare ("It's my husband and I'll decide when to kill him"), directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile, a comedy in which a young wife carefully plans to murder her husband, who is 40 years her senior, to marry a young beatnik.[5]

He starred opposite Hayley Mills in several films, including The Family Way (1966), Twisted Nerve (1968) and Endless Night (1972).

He starred in The Virgin Soldiers (1969), the film adaptation of Loot (1970) by Joe Orton, and Percy (1971).[6] In 1969, contemporary critic Roger Ebert called him "one of England's best young actors".[7]

On television Bennett appeared in Doctor Who (1965) and The Sweeney (1976).[8]

He played major parts in several Dennis Potter television plays, including Where the Buffalo Roam (1966), an episode of 1978's Pennies from Heaven, "Better Think Twice", in which he played Tom, a pimp; Karaoke (1996); and Cold Lazarus (also 1996). He took the lead role in Shelley (1979–84) and its sequel The Return of Shelley (1988–92).

He was also the villainous Mr Croup in Neil Gaiman's serial Neverwhere (1996).[9] Bennett also starred in the four-part BBC mini-series Malice Aforethought (1979) based on a novel written in the 1920s by Francis Iles.[10] Bennett's character, Ricki Tarr, was pivotal in the BBC serial based on John le Carré's novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979).[7] He also appeared in Lock, Stock... (2000) as Deep Throat.[11]

In 2003, Bennett joined the cast of the long-running soap opera EastEnders as Jack Dalton – the ruthless gangland kingpin of Walford.

Bennett also appeared as an occasional character, Peter Baxter, on The Bill and was in the first episode of Jam & Jerusalem.[12][13]

He appeared in the 1986 music video of "Loving You's a Dirty Job but Somebody's Gotta Do It" by Bonnie Tyler and Todd Rundgren in which he lip synced Rundgren's vocals.[citation needed]

Personal life and death[edit]

From 1970 to 1988, Bennett was married to Cathy McGowan, who was the presenter of the TV rock show Ready Steady Go! in the mid-1960s. They had a daughter, Emma. In 1998, he married Sandra Layne Fulford.[1]

Bennett retired from acting in 2007 after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect,[1] and later moved to Deal, Kent. He died on 25 July 2017, aged 73.[14][4]



Year Title Role Notes
1964 Julius Caesar Octavius Caesar TV film
1966 The Family Way Arthur Fitton
1968 Il marito è mio e l'ammazzo quando mi pare Leonardo Italian
Twisted Nerve Martin Durnley/Georgie Clifford
1969 The Virgin Soldiers Private Brigg
1970 The Buttercup Chain France
Loot Dennis
1971 Percy Edwin Anthony
1972 Endless Night Michael Rogers
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Duckworth
1973 The Love Ban Mick Goonahan
1981 Artemis 81 Gideon Harlax TV film
1985 Murder Elite Jimmy Fowler
1987 Deadline Mike Jessop
1991 A Mind to Kill Gareth D. Lewis TV film
1994 Deadly Advice Dr. Crippen
1997 Hospital! Dickie Beaumont TV film
Harpur and Iles ACC Desmond Iles TV film
1999 Misery Harbour The Captain
Nasty Neighbours The Boss
Mary, Mother of Jesus Herod TV film
2000 Vatel Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Married 2 Malcolm Reg
2003 Lloyd & Hill Dr. Freddie Marks TV film
One for the Road Richard Stevens
2004 The Second Quest Ronno TV film
The Final Quest Ronno TV film


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Redcap Brown Episode: "Nightwatch"
1965 Doctor Who Rynian Episode: "The Death of Time"
Jury Room Joe Mintz Episode: "The Side of Mercy"
Theatre 625 Lipstrob Episode: "Unman, Wittering and Zigo"
1966 Beliayev Episode: "A Month in the Country"
The Idiot Hypolite Terentiev Mini-series
Thirteen Against Fate Gilles Mauvaisin Episode: "The Traveller"
The Wednesday Play Willy Turner Episode: "Where the Buffalo Roam"
1967 Oliver Treefe Episode: "Death of a Teddy Bear"
BBC Play of the Month Romeo Episode: "Romeo and Juliet"
1973 Play for Today Tony Episode: "Three's One"
1976 The Sweeney Steve Castle Episode: "Sweet Smell of Succession"
1978 Pennies from Heaven Tom Episode: "Better Think Twice"
Strangers Jack Slater Episode: "Silver Lining"
1979 Malice Aforethought Dr. Edmund Bickleigh Mini-series
Play for Today Harry Essendorf Episode: "Coming Out"
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Ricki Tarr Mini-series
1979-1984 Shelley James Shelley Series regular
1982 BBC Play of the Month Mr. King/Mr. Puff Episode: "The Critic"
1983 The Consultant Chris Webb Mini-series
1985 Theatre Night John Episode: "Absent Friends"
1986 Screen Two Allan Blakeston Episode: "Frank and Johnnie"
The Twilight Zone Grant Episode: "Devil's Alphabet"
Robin of Sherwood King Arthur Episode: "The Inheritance"
1987 Tickets for the Titanic Brian Stebbings Episode: "Checkpoint Chiswick"
1988 The Modern World: Ten Great Writers Professor Episode: "Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'"
Boon Richard Jay Episode: "Charity Begins at Home"
1988-1992 The Return of Shelley James Shelley Series regular
1991 Ålder okänd James Williams Mini-series
1992 The Other Side of Paradise Purvis Mini-series
Virtual Murder Harold Bingham Episode: "A Bone to Pick"
Screen One Ralph Episode: "Trust Me"
1993 Casualty Paul Lawson Episode: "Life in the Fast Lane"
Frank Stubbs Promotes Clive Riley Episode: "Book"
1994 Murder Most Horrid Clancy Episode: "Smashing Bird"
1996 Karaoke Arthur 'Pig' Mallion Mini-series
Cold Lazarus Mini-series
Frontiers DS Eddie Spader Series regular
Neverwhere Mr. Croup Mini-series
2000 Dirty Work Mostyn Hughes Episode: "A Fish Called Rhondda"
Lock, Stock... Deep Throat Episode: "...And Spaghetti Sauce"
2001 Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Roger Whale Episode: "Whatever Possessed You?"
2002 Last of the Summer Wine Kevin Episode: "It All Began with an Old Volvo Headlamp"
Time Gentlemen Please Barsteward in Wheelchair Episode: "Optics Wide Shut"
The Quest Ronno Mini-series
2003 EastEnders Jack Dalton Recurring role
2005 Casualty@Holby City David Wincott Episode: "Interactive: Something We Can Do"
High Hopes Uncle Tom Episode: "Uncle Tom"
2006 Jam & Jerusalem Dr. Mike Vine Episode: "Sudden Death"
2007 The Last Detective Reggie Conway Episode: "Dangerous Liaisons"


  1. ^ According to director Roy Boulting, Bennett was not consistent on the pronunciation of his given name: "It's pronounced 'Howell' or 'Hugh-el,' ... altho [sic] he seems to use one pronunciation one day, and another the next."[2]


  1. ^ a b c Hayward, Anthony (4 August 2017). "Hywel Bennett obituary" – via www.theguardian.com.
  2. ^ Terry, Clifford (9 July 1967). "Little Hayley Now Mature Miss Mills". Chicago Tribune – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Hywel Bennett Biography (1944–)". www.filmreference.com.
  4. ^ a b c Williamson, Marcus (3 August 2017). "Hywel Bennett obituary: Beloved actor who rose to fame as a sitcom star". The Independent. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Il MARITO È MIO E L'AMMAZZO QUANDO MI PARE (1967)". BFI. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Hywel Bennett – Movies and Filmography – AllMovie". AllMovie.
  7. ^ a b "Hywel Bennett obituary: fashionable young man who grew up fast – Sight & Sound".
  8. ^ "Il MARITO È MIO E L'AMMAZZO QUANDO MI PARE (1967)". BFI. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  9. ^ "EastEnders star Hywel Bennett passes away aged 73". 4 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Malice Aforethought Part 3 (1979)".
  11. ^ "Lock, Stock...And Spaghetti Sauce (2000)".
  12. ^ "Hywel Bennett".
  13. ^ TV.com. "Jam and Jerusalem". TV.com.
  14. ^ "Hywel Bennett, star of television and film, dies aged 73". BBC News. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017.

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