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Sergeant Benton is a fictional character in the Britishmarker science fiction television series Doctor Who, played by John Levene. He was the senior NCO of the British contingent of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, later retitled: UNified Intelligence Taskforce for the new series), an international organisation that defends the Earth from alien threats. He appeared semi-regularly on the programme from 1968 to 1975, and was eventually promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1, holding the post of Regimental Sergeant Major.

Character history

Benton first appeared in the Second Doctor serial The Invasion (1968), where he was a Corporal in UNIT. By the time of his next appearance in The Ambassadors of Death (1970) he had been promoted to Sergeant and quickly formed a close working relationship with the Doctor, Captain Mike Yates and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, the latter usually calling first for Benton when an order needed to be carried out. Benton's tour in UNIT also coincided with the tenure of the Third and Fourth Doctors as its Scientific Advisor and his promotion to WO1 came in Robot (1974).

During his time with UNIT, Benton faced several alien invasions and also the schemes of the renegade Time Lord known as the Master. Benton was always a down-to-earth example of a British infantryman and non-commissioned officer, reliable, uncomplicated and with a good dose of common sense. When the Doctor asked him if he was going to comment that the TARDIS was bigger on the inside than on the outside (since everyone did), Benton's classic reply was, "Well, that's pretty obvious, isn't it?" Despite not understanding the specifics of what the Doctor was doing or any of his explanations, Benton always took the Doctor at his word and trusted him implicitly.

Very little is known of Benton outside of his UNIT duties, other than the fact he has a younger sister and is apparently fond of ballroom dancing. In fact, his first name was never revealed in the television series. Benton was loyal, not just to the rank but also to the people he worked with, and was willing to disobey orders to help them (in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, he allowed the Doctor to knock him out and "escape" after the Doctor was falsely accused). He flirted briefly with Jo Grant, the Third Doctor's assistant, and also Sarah Jane Smith, but neither appeared to get beyond good natured bantering.

Benton's last on-screen appearance was in The Android Invasion, where he was last seen being knocked out by his android duplicate. In Mawdryn Undead, set in 1983, he was said by the retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to have left the British Army in 1979 and become a used car salesman.

As one of the most popular recurring supporting characters in the television series, Benton is often listed as a companion of the Doctor and indeed is listed as such on the official BBC Doctor Who website. However, he is not always listed as such - the John Nathan-Turner penned book of companions, for instance, excludes Benton.

Other appearances

The prologue of the Virgin Publishing novelisation of The Power of the Daleks by John Peel revealed that Benton did return to UNIT at some point and became a commissioned officer with the rank of Lieutenant (OF-1). In 1986, he led a UNIT team to Antarcticamarker to clear up the mess left in the wake of the Cybermen's failed attempt to drain Earth of its energy (The Tenth Planet).

John Levene reprised the role of Benton in the spin-off video Wartime, produced by Reeltime Pictures in 1987. This finally established a first name for Benton: John, just like the actor who played him. Levene and Terrance Dicks actually determined this during UNIT's early 1970s heyday, though it was not used in any official production before Wartime. The name "John Benton" has subsequently been used in many spin-off novels and other fiction.

Benton appears alongside the Sixth Doctor in the unlicensed fan fiction novel Time's Champion by Chris McKeon, based on notes by the late Craig Hinton.

List of appearances

Television

Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11
Season 12
Season 13


Video

Audio drama



Novels

Virgin Missing Adventures


Past Doctor Adventures


Eighth Doctor Adventures


Independent Novels


Short stories



Comics



References

  1. Lyons, Steve and Chris Howarth, "The Good Soldier" Doctor Who Magazine #230, 27 September 1995, Marvel Comics UK Ltd., p. 44 (interview with John Levene).


See also



External links




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