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John Levene with a young fan at a convention in 2014
John Anthony Woods
24 December 1941
|Other names||John Anthony Blake|
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 came to the store and 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
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 Zeppelin (1971), Go for a Take (1972), Dark Places (1973), Psychomania (1973) and Permission to Kill (1975).
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. Levene's last regular appearance was in the Fourth Doctor serial The Android Invasion.
After Doctor Who
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, 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.)
In 2019, Levene published his autobiography, entitled Run the Shadows, Walk the Sun.
In 1983 Levene turned down the opportunity to reprise the role of Benton for the 20th-anniversary Doctor Who special The Five Doctors. 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. He has also performed voice-over work for Disney and The Queen Mary Hotel, among other companies.
|1972||Go for a Take||Assistant Director|
|1975||Permission to Kill||Adams|
|1987||Wartime||John Benton||Direct to DVD film|
|2010||Satan Hates You||Reverend Bernie Shanks|
|1965||Undermind||Man in Club||Episode: "Waves of Sound"|
|1967||Doctor Who||Cyberman||Episode: "The Moonbase"|
|1967||Adam Adamant Lives!||S.S. Guard||Episode: "A Sinister Sort of Service"|
|1967||Z Cars||Constable||13 episodes|
|1968||Doctor Who||Yeti||Episode: "The Web of Fear"|
|1968||Detective||Detective||Episode: "Crime of Passion"|
|1968-1975||Doctor Who||Sergeant Benton||66 episodes|
|1969||Softly, Softly||Youth||Episode: "A Quantity of Gelignite"|
|1969||The Expert||Prison Officer||Episode: "A Question of Guilt"|
|1969||A Handful of Thieves||Police Constable||Episode: "The Fireworks Party"|
|1969||Special Branch||Special Branch Man||Episode: "A New Face"|
|1969||Coronation Street||Drinker in Rover's Return|
|1970||Germinal||Miner||Episode: "Mob Rule"|
|1970||ITV Sunday Night Theatre||Ernie||Episode: "Lay Down Your Arms"|
|1970||The Doctors||Det. Insp. Coates|
|1970||UFO||Interceptor Pilot||Episode: "Close Up"|
|1971||The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes||Constable||Episode: "The Affair of the Tortoise"|
|1972||The Regiment||Corporal Challoner||Episode: "The Fortunes of Peace"|
|1972||Callan||Harold||Episode: "I Never Wanted the Job"|
|1972||The Pathfinders||RAF Sergeant||Episode: "Our Daffodils Are Better Than Your Daffodils"|
|1973||The Adventurer||Tony||Episode: "I'll Get There Sometime"|
|1973||Whoops Baghdad||Cassan||Episode: "Genie of the Bottle"|
|1973||The Jensen Code||Military Policeman||2 episodes|
|1975||Carry On Laughing||Soldier||Episode: "The Baron Outlook"|
|1975||The Growing Pains of P.C. Penrose||Motorist||Episode: "The Peeper"|
|1997||Big Bad Beetleborgs||Lord T. N. Crumpets||Episode: "The Curse of Mums' Tomb"|
- Tegeltija, Sam (13 January 2015). "Doctor Who actor John Levene meets fans at Rhondda sci-fi and comic shop". WalesOnline.
- Lyons, Steve; Howarth, Chris (27 September 1995). "The Good Soldier". Doctor Who Magazine. No. 230. Marvel Comics UK Ltd. p. 44.
- "John Levene Interview". Doctor Who Magazine. 1985. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Bates, Phillip. "John Levene's Benton Returns in Time's Champion Audiobook!". Kasterborous.com. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- "John Levene on Babelcolour's 11th Anniversary video". YouTube. Retrieved 22 January 2018.