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Hywel Thomas Bennett[1] (8 April 1944 – 25 July 2017) was a Welsh film and television actor. Bennett was known for his recurring title role as James Shelley in the television sitcom Shelley (1979–84), and its sequel The Return of Shelley (1988–92).

Hywel Bennett
Hywel Thomas Bennett

(1944-04-08)8 April 1944
Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Died25 July 2017(2017-07-25) (aged 73)
Cardiff, Wales
Alma materRADA
Years active1965–2007
Cathy McGowan (m. 1970–1988)

Sandra Layne Fulford
(1998–2017 his death)
ChildrenEmma Bennett (by first marriage)

After becoming known for his role in the comedy film The Virgin Soldiers (1969), Bennett made appearances in films such as Loot (1970) and Percy (1971). He was in EastEnders during 2003 as gangster Jack Dalton.


Early lifeEdit

Bennett was born in Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the son of Sarah Gwen (née Lewis) and Gorden Bennett.[2] 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.[3]


Bennett debuted on stage in the role of Ophelia in a Queen's Theatre production of Hamlet in 1959.[3]

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.[4]

On TV, Bennett played small parts in Doctor Who (1965) and The Sweeney (1976).[4]

He starred in The Virgin Soldiers (1969), the film adaptation of Loot (1970) by Joe Orton, and Percy (1971).[5] He also starred opposite Hayley Mills in several films, including The Family Way (1966), Twisted Nerve (1968) and Endless Night (1972). In 1969, contemporary critic Roger Ebert called him "one of England's best young actors".[6]

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).[7] Bennett also starred in the four-part BBC mini-series Malice Aforethought (1979) based on a novel written in the 1920s by Francis Iles.[8] Bennett's character, Ricki Tarr, was pivotal in the BBC serial based on John le Carré's novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979).[6] He also appeared in Lock, Stock... (2000) as Deep Throat.[9]

In 2003, Bennett joined the cast of the long-running soap opera EastEnders as Jack Dalton, a gangland boss who was a former adversary of Den Watts (played by Leslie Grantham) and was believed to have ordered Watts's death in 1989. He first appeared in the series in May 2003, but was written out just two months later when his character was shot dead by Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman), son of Den Watts.[10] Just before his death, Dalton revealed that Den had survived the shooting 14 years earlier, and later that year Den returned to the series.

Bennett also appeared as an occasional character, Peter Baxter, on The Bill and was in the first episode of Jam & Jerusalem.[11][12]

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. He lip synced Rundgren's vocals. The song can be found on Tyler's album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire.

Personal life and deathEdit

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.

Bennett retired from acting in 2007, and later moved to Deal, Kent.

On 3 August 2017, it was announced that he had died on 25 July, aged 73.[13][3]





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

External linksEdit