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Eastenders star Hywel Bennett, from Deal, dies age 73

By Paul Hooper

Deal-based retired actor and Eastenders star Hywel Bennett has died aged 73.

Bennett was also known for starring in the 60s film Virgin Soldiers and for taking the title role of Shelley in the television series broadcast in the late 70s and early 80s.

A strikingly handsome figure as a young man, he excelled equally on stage, TV and film and in comedy as much as he did in the darker, more psychological roles.

Hywel Bennett: Starring in Eastenders
Hywel Bennett: Starring in Eastenders

Bennett was born in Garnant, Carmathenshire, in 1944, the son of Sarah Gwen and Gorden Bennett, and grew up in London.

He was educated at Henry Thornton Grammar School, Camden and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

He made his stage debut playing Ophelia in Hamlet at the Queen’s Theatre in 1959, at a time when it was still a tradition for men to play Shakespearean women’s roles.

Following a period in repertory at Salisbury and Leatherhead in the mid 60s he first appeared on television in Doctor Who in 1965 as the character Rynian in the serial The Chase.

Bennett was married to the former television presenter Cathy McGowan from 1970 to 1988 and to Sandra Layne Fulford from 1998.

He retired from acting in 2007 due to ill health and latterly lived in Deal.

His death was confirmed last night.

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