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John Benton was a member of UNIT, serving before, during, and after the Third Doctor's exile on Earth. He was promoted from Corporal to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1, holding the post of Regimental Sergeant Major. One source says that he later achieved the rank of Lieutenant.
Early life Edit
In 1944, while his father was on embarkation leave, the Benton family had a picnic in the woods outside Bolton. While the boys were playing, Chris fell from the high wall of a ruined tower to his death. John tried to save him, but failed and blamed himself ever after. Some time later, his father was killed in the Normandy landings by a grenade. (HOMEVID: Wartime)
John had another brother who worked on the railways in the 1970s (AUDIO: Time Tunnel) and a younger sister. (TV: The Android Invasion) He also had an aunt, who was supposedly a medium and died in the late 1960s. (PROSE: The Eye of the Giant)
Military career Edit
Benton was a corporal when he met the Doctor for the first time, though he was doing surveillance work rather than serving in uniform. He helped the Second Doctor defeat the Cybermen and Tobias Vaughn. (TV: The Invasion)
Benton was part of a team who investigated the Glasshouse. He had discovered that someone had kidnapped Barbara Redworth, a police officer who had seen Silurians, while murdering everyone else on the floor. He led UNIT troops in successfully fighting off a Silurian invasion fleet on the Kent coast. He detonated a bag full of flares at an invading Myrka, killing it. He turned down a promotion to Captain because he preferred being a soldier to an officer. The promotion instead went to Mike Yates, who became the Number Two to UNIT's British commanding officer Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. (PROSE: The Scales of Injustice)
Benton was a down-to-earth British infantryman and non-commissioned officer — reliable, uncomplicated and with a good dose of common sense. When the Third Doctor asked him if he was going to comment that his TARDIS was bigger on the inside than on the outside as everyone did, Benton's classic reply was, "Well, It's pretty obvious, isn't it?" It was also on this occasion that Benton travelled for the first and only time in the TARDIS — namely, the short hop from UNIT H.Q. to Omega's palace. (TV: The Three Doctors) Despite not understanding what the Doctor was doing or any of his explanations, Benton always took the Doctor at his word and trusted him implicitly. He was loyal, not just to the rank, but also to the people he worked with, and was willing to disobey orders in order to help them. During one incident, he allowed himself to be rendered unconscious when the Doctor was framed so as allow him to escape, and later subdued Mike Yates and General Finch. (TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs)
Little was known of his personal life at this time. It seemed Benton was single. He was preparing for a dancing date with his sister when a crisis with Azal interrupted his plans. He flirted briefly with Jo Grant, (TV: The Dæmons) and Sarah Jane Smith, (TV: Robot) though as far as is known, this never progressed beyond good-natured banter.
Benton had some memorable experiences in UNIT. He fought Daleks and Ogrons from an alternate timeline. (TV: Day of the Daleks) The Master's TOMTIT machine regressed him to a baby. When restored to adult form, he appeared before his UNIT colleagues stark naked. (TV: The Time Monster) Benton also worked with the current Doctor and his previous incarnation whom the Time Lords had called in to help against Omega. Benton was delighted with the reunion. It was during these events that Benton travelled for the first and only trip in the TARDIS — namely, the short journey from UNIT HQ to Omega's palace. (TV: The Three Doctors)
While undercover in Kettering, Benton met Margery Phipps around Christmas time the year Jo left UNIT and they began dating. They were still dating in spring when dinosaurs appeared in London. He was sent to Kettering in the place of Mike Yates when he was recovering (AUDIO: Council of War)
Shortly after the return of the Doctor to Earth and his regeneration into his fourth incarnation, Benton was promoted to Warrant Officer — a rank which entitled him to be addressed as "Mister". (TV: Robot) As a Regimental Sergeant Major, Benton helped against the Zygons. (TV: Terror of the Zygons) He was stationed at the Space Defence Station at Devesham during the Kraals' attempted invasion of Earth, where he was replaced by one of Styggron's android duplicates. (TV: The Android Invasion)
Benton met the Ninth Doctor when he was put on a team with Harry Sullivan and sent to the West Country to investigate a missing member of UNIT and a subsequent series of "monster" sightings. Though this was after his promotion, the Doctor still referred to Benton as "Sergeant". (COMIC: Official Secrets)
While transporting radioactive cargo by UNIT Land Rover through the woods outside Bolton with his driver, Private Willis of the Regular Army, Benton was haunted by the ghosts of his brother and father. He overcame his feelings of guilt (which were apparently the source of these hauntings) and returned to his post in time to prevent the cargo from being hijacked by a dangerous criminal. (HOMEVID: Wartime)
Later career Edit
By 1979, Benton had left UNIT and had became a used car salesman. (TV: Mawdryn Undead) Benton attented the UNIT reunion of 1983, by which point he had returned to active service. (PROSE: Business Unusual)
One account stated that by 1986, Benton had returned to UNIT and become a commissioned officer with the rank of Lieutenant, subsequently leading a UNIT team to the Snowcap tracking base in Antarctica to clear up the chaos left by the Cybermen's attempt to drain Earth of its energy in December of that year. (PROSE: The Power of the Daleks)
In 2009 John Benton was invited to Sarah Jane Smith's aborted wedding with Peter Dalton, but couldn't make it because he was doing something secret in Malaysia. (PROSE: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith)
Undated events Edit
Other information Edit
Behind the scenes Edit
- Benton would have appeared in a cameo in the television story The Five Doctors, not recognising the Second Doctor and denying him admittance to UNIT's reunion. However John Levene declined to take up the role again on the grounds that Benton would have remembered that version of the Doctor and not made such a mistake. Instead, he was replaced by a nameless UNIT sergeant.
- During his on-screen appearances, Benton's first name, John, was never given. It was first revealed in the video Wartime, and later appeared in fully-licensed stories such as the novel Happy Endings.
- Benton was the first companion to be portrayed by a juvenile or infant actor. (TV: The Time Monster)