British Comedy Guide

Hywel Bennett dies aged 73

Thursday 3rd August 2017, 3:30pm

Shelley. James Shelley (Hywel Bennett). Copyright: Thames Television.

Actor and sitcom star Hywel Bennett has died at the age of 73.

The Carmathenshire-born actor died last week after a period of ill health. He had been living in Deal, Kent.

Perhaps best remembered for taking the starring, titular role in 1979 - 1992 sitcom Shelley, a wide range of credits across comedy and drama also saw him work with celebrated film producers the Boulting Brothers in his very first feature film, 1966's The Family Way.

Bennett's first television appearance was in 1965 Doctor Who story The Chase, but he found his highest fame in the Thames Television sitcom Shelley, which originally ran for 6 series to 1983, before being revived for a further four high-rating series between 1988 and 1992 as The Return Of Shelley.

The sitcom saw Bennett play the title role of a young man with a sharp, analytical brain, but absolutely no desire to do any work whatsoever. Dubbed variously "one of life's endless philosophers" and a "professional freelance layabout", the 10 series of the hugely popular sitcom - which drew audiences of up to 18 million viewers - saw James Shelley offer thought and opinion on all range of topics, whilst trying as little as possible to do anything in practice himself.

Two complete box sets of the series, covering the initial six series and the latter four, are due for release in November.

He also starred in Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's feature film adaptation of the acclaimed Joe Orton play Loot in 1970, which is due to be released on Blu-ray and DVD later this month to mark 50 years since Orton's death.

Elsewhere in film, Hywel Bennett starred in the 1971 comedy Percy, as a man who receives the world's first penis transplant; in The Virgin Soldiers (1969), about National Service conscripts serving in Singapore in the 1950s; and The Love Ban in 1973, about the Roman Catholic church's opposition to womens' use of the morning after pill.

Other TV comedy roles included Jam & Jerusalem, Murder Most Horrid, Time Gentlemen Please, The Quest trilogy, Checkpoint Chiswick, and Last Of The Summer Wine.

Born on 8th April 1944, Bennett died on 25th July 2017. His brother, Alun Lewis, is also an actor.


Show your appreciation for Bennett's work:

 

Loot

Loot

Adaptation of the celebrated farcical play by Joe Orton.

Two bank robbers, Dennis (Hywel Bennett) and Hal (Roy Holder), are on the run from the police after a successful heist. Needing somewhere to hide the loot, they turn to a funeral parlour where they can stash the cash in Hal's recently-deceased mother's coffin. Taking the coffin, they turn to Hal's father (Milo O'Shea) and hide it in the bathroom of his hotel. Before long the hotel is host to the eccentric Inspector Truscott (Richard Attenborough) as he traces the crooks, and the promiscuous nurse Fay (Lee Remick), who is also on the trail of the stolen money.

First released: Monday 28th August 2017

  • Distributor: StudioCanal
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Minutes: 97
  • Catalogue: OPTD4074

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  • Distributor: StudioCanal
  • Region: B
  • Discs: 1
  • Minutes: 101
  • Catalogue: OPTBD4074

Search for this product on eBay

Shelley - The Complete Series 7 - 10

Shelley - The Complete Series 7 - 10

Returning from a near-five-year hiatus, Hywel Bennett stars once again as James Shelley, the erudite, philosophically inclined idler who elevated work-avoidance to an art form through its initial. massively popular six series run in the early 1980s.

These further series (initially titled The Return Of Shelley) see the graduate and 'freelance layabout' returning to the UK after a stint teaching English abroad. When he left, the social landscape was changing fast - and now he's shocked to see by how much. Middle-aged slobs have been banned from their origins, Yuppiedom is the name of the new game, and the only thing that's real is estate; an unforgiving new world personified by Shelley's frighteningly energetic new landlords, Carol and Graham...

Featuring guest appearances from James Grout, Sean Gilder, Stephen Tompkinson, Clive Swift and Alex Jennings among many others, this set contains every episode screened between 1988 and 1992, including the 1991 New Year special.

First released: Monday 13th November 2017

  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 5
  • Minutes: 800
  • Catalogue: 7954795

Shelley - The Complete Series 1 - 6

Shelley - The Complete Series 1 - 6

Hywel Bennett stars as James Shelley: an erudite, highly articulate graduate and bone-idle skiver who spends his days pondering life's philosophical implications whilst dodging the bureaucratic machinery that has the gall to insist that he actually work for a living. At the series' outset he shares a little North London bedsit with girlfriend Fran, but his life of reflective slothfulness comes increasingly under threat from the attentions of the labour exchange and the pressing realities of fatherhood, home-ownership, marriage and divorce...

A huge success for ITV running for a total of ten series over thirteen years, Shelley features a masterful performance by Bennett with regular appearances by Warren Clarke and Garfield Morgan, and guest turns from Kenneth Cope, Alan Rickman, Leslie Ash, Fulton MacKay and James Grout, among many others.

This set contains every episode of the initial run of six series, including the 1980 Christmas Special.

First released: Monday 13th November 2017

  • Distributor: Network
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 6
  • Minutes: 975
  • Catalogue: 7954794

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