John Levene

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John Levene in 2014
John Levene with a young fan at a convention in 2014

John Levene
John Anthony Woods

(1941-12-24) 24 December 1941 (age 77)
Other namesJohn Anthony Blake
Years active1965–present
OrganizationGenesis Communications
TelevisionDoctor Who

John Levene (born John Anthony Woods, 24 December 1941) is an English actor. His best-known role was that of Corporal, Sergeant, and later Warrant Officer, John Benton, of the UNIT in the science-fiction television series Doctor Who.


John Woods was born at Salisbury in Wiltshire. He was working in a men's clothing store on Regent Street in London when Telly Savalas encouraged him to sign up as an actor for The Dirty Dozen (1967). Although he failed to secure a part in the film, since he was not a union member, he became interested in acting. Upon joining Equity, he adopted the professional name John Levene to avoid confusion with another John Woods who was already registered with the union.

Film and Television[edit]

Levene's first acting role was in the television series Adam Adamant Lives! Other TV roles included episodes of Callan (1972) and The Adventurer (1972), and he also appeared in the films Go for a Take (1972), Dark Places (1973), Psychomania (1973), and Permission to Kill (1975).

Doctor Who[edit]

Levene made his first appearances in Doctor Who as an uncredited Cyberman in the 1967 serial The Moonbase and as a Yeti in The Web of Fear, before making his first appearance as then-Corporal Benton of UNIT in The Invasion (1968). UNIT were featured heavily in early 1970s Doctor Who, and the promoted Sergeant Benton also became a regular, appearing in a total of 16 serials.

After Doctor Who[edit]

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. He has since directed more than 45 audio-visuals and live events for various clients including the Ford Motor Company, British Airways, KFC, Amway and Revlon.

Levene has worked as an entertainer on cruise liners and has also lived in the United States,[1] where he returned to acting under the name John Anthony Blake. ("Blake" was the maiden name of Levene's mother, and as he informed the writers Steve Lyons and Christopher Howarth, he had had a much better relationship with her than with his father.)[2]

Levene's most recent acting work was in an independent film titled CanniBallistic! He has also appeared in an episode of Big Bad Beetleborgs and industrial videos.

Reprising Benton[edit]

In 1983 Levene turned down the opportunity to reprise the role of Benton for the 20th Anniversary Doctor Who special The Five Doctors [3] however, five years later he did return to the role for the 1988 Reeltime Pictures video production Wartime. In 2008, Levene co-starred with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred in Twice Upon a Timelord, a video production in which the Seventh Doctor and Ace attend Benton's wedding. In 2013, Levene reprised the character once again for the Big Finish Companion Chronicle Council of War


His music album The Ballads of Sergeant Benton was released in September 2012. The same year, he returned to the UK to promote himself and his album at a number of Doctor Who events.


In 2013 Levene appeared in the Big Finish Companion Chronicle Council of War. In 2015 he recorded vocals for an audio adaptation of the Doctor Who charity novel Time's Champion.[4] He has also performed voice-over work for Disney and The Queen Mary Hotel, among other companies. In September 2017, he joined other Doctor Who stars, including showrunner Steven Moffat, in recording audio contributions for the YouTube anniversary video of mutimedia artist Stuart Humphryes[5]


  1. ^ Tegeltija, Sam (13 January 2015). "Doctor Who actor John Levene meets fans at Rhondda sci-fi and comic shop". WalesOnline.
  2. ^ Lyons, Steve; Howarth, Chris (27 September 1995). "The Good Soldier". Doctor Who Magazine. Marvel Comics UK Ltd. p. 44. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ "John Levene Interview". Doctor Who Magazine. 1985. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  4. ^ Bates, Phillip. "John Levene's Benton Returns in Time's Champion Audiobook!". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  5. ^ "John Levene on Babelcolour's 11th Anniversary video". YouTube. Retrieved 22 January 2018.

External links[edit]