Paul Henry (actor)

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Paul Henry (born 1947) is a British actor, best known for his role as Benny Hawkins in the soap opera, Crossroads.


Born in Aston, Birmingham,[1] he attended the city's Alderlea Boys School in Shard End with Jeff Lynne. Henry trained at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, which was followed by eight years at the Birmingham Rep.[1] Between 1975 and 1988, he played his best-known role of Benny Hawkins, a handy-man in Crossroads. British Forces in the Falklands Island called the local islanders Benny, after the character Benny. This was due to the fact that many Falkland Islanders wear Benny style woolly hats.

In 1977, Henry recorded "Benny's Theme" with the Mayson Glen Orchestra, on Pye Records. It peaked at no. 39 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1978.[2] He was in character as Benny in the song, but spoke rather than sang.

Henry made a guest appearance on the Central Television games show Bullseye presented by Jim Bowen on 11 February, 1985, where he scored 215 and raised £215 for charity.

His country boy style got him the part of Peter Stevens in The Archers for a time. Henry's post-Crossroads career included minor stage roles and running a nightclub in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but in 1994 he returned to television briefly in a tribute to Crossroads, called 30 Years On. In a 2002 interview, Henry declared that the public still love Benny and during a shopping trip, he came back to his car and found a person had left a piece of paper on it saying "Benny, we miss you".[3]

He appeared in the episode Stoppo Driver in The Sweeney playing a gangster.

In 2004, he returned to acting on TV in an episode of the British medical soap opera Doctors. He then played regular character Frank, a baker's delivery man and later attempted rapist, in the seventh and penultimate series of the ITV1 prison drama Bad Girls.

Returning to the stage, in 2009, he appeared in a touring version of Run for Your Wife and the following year portrayed Tony Hancock in the play Hancock's Finest Hour.[1]

The slang phrase throwing a benny refers to someone having a temper tantrum and may originate from Henry's Crossroads character.[4]

Comedian Ronnie Barker later in his life revealed that he had suggested Henry should be cast as the character, Lennie Godber, opposite him in the sitcom Porridge, but the actor Richard Beckinsale was chosen instead by the television producer.[5]

In October 2017, Henry appeared on Celebrity Pointless alongside Shaun Williamson. They won the jackpot.

Personal life[edit]

With wife Sheila, he had a son, Anthony and a daughter, Justine who died as a result of a traffic collision at the age of 19.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Paul Henry talks about Benny, Hancock and his own family tragedy". Sunday Mercury. 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 251. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Paul Henry interview Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. for the Crossroads Appreciation Society.
  4. ^ "h2g2 - UK slang "Throwing a Benny" -". Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  5. ^ "h2g2 - 'Porridge' - the TV Series - A713882". BBC. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 

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