Hywel Bennett

Last updated 09 January 2020

Hywel Bennett (1944-2017)
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Hywel Thomas Bennett

Born: Saturday 8th April 1944
Died: Tuesday 25th July 2017 (age: 73)


Hywel Bennett  was a Welsh film and television actor who was best known for his recurring title role as James Shelley in the television sitcom Shelley from 1979 to 1984 and its sequel The Return of Shelley from 1988 to 1992.

He appeared in the 1965 Dalek story, The Chase.

Bennett was born in Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Brought up in London from an early age, he attended Sunnyhill School, Streatham, Henry Thornton Grammar School, Clapham and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He appeared in The Sweeney (1976). He starred in The Virgin Soldiers (1969), the film adaptation of Loot (1970) by Joe Orton, Percy (1971) and played the lead role in Shelley (1979-84) and its sequelThe Return of Shelley (1988-92). He was also cast opposite former child star Hayley Mills in several films including The Family Way (1966), Twisted Nerve (1968) and Endless Night (1972).

He played major parts in several Dennis Potter television plays, including Where the Buffalo Roam(1966), Pennies From Heaven (1978), Karaoke (1996), and Cold Lazarus (also 1996). He was also the villainous Mr. Croup in Neil Gaiman's miniseries Neverwhere (1996). His character, Ricki Tarr, was pivotal in the 1979 BBC miniseries based on the John le Carr novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979). He also appeared in Lock, Stock... (2000) as "Deep Throat". Bennett also starred in the four-part 1979 BBC mini series Malice Aforethought from the original novel, written in the 1920s, by Francis Iles.

In 2003, he joined the cast of long running soap opera EastEnders as Jack Dalton, a gangland boss who was introduced into the series as a former adversary of Den Watts (played by Leslie Grantham) whose death he was believed to have ordered 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; just before his demise, the character revealed that Den had survived the shooting 14 years earlier, and later that year Den returned to the series.

He also appeared as an occasional character, Peter Baxter, on The Bill and was in the first episode of Jam & Jerusalem.

Also, 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 playbacked the Todd Rundgren vocals. The song can be found on Bonnie's album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire.

From 1967-88, Bennett was married to Cathy McGowan, best known as the presenter of the TV rock show Ready Steady Go! in the mid 1960s. They have a daughter, Emma.

Bennett retired in 2007 after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.