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John Benton

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
John Benton’s grandfather met the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler in the trenches of World War I in 1914. (COMIC: The Forgotten)

His father also served in the military. As a boy, John wanted to be just like him. His brother, Chris Benton, did not want to be a soldier. (HOMEVID: Wartime)

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 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
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)

Following Sergeant Robin Marshall’s death, (AUDIO: Shadow of the Past) Benton was promoted to Sergeant. (TV: The Ambassadors of Death) This was the rank he held throughout the Third Doctor’s exile and beyond. He quickly formed a close working relationship with the Doctor, Captain Mike Yates and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. (TV: Terror of the Autons)

Benton was a down-to-earth 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 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 traveled 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. (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. 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 whendinosaurs appeared in London. (AUDIO: Council of War)

Benton had some memorable experiences in UNIT. He fought Daleks and Ogrons from an alternate timeline. (TV: Day of the Daleks) The Master’sTOMTIT 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 traveled for the first and only trip in the TARDIS — namely, the short journey from UNIT HQ to Omega’s palace. (TV: The Three Doctors)

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 Defense 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)

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)

After UNIT
By 1979, Benton had left UNIT and had became a used car salesman. (TV: Mawdryn Undead) Some time later, he was married and had three children. (PROSE: Genocide) He later had a grandson. (PROSE: Faithful Friends: Part 3)

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)

On 24 April 2010 he attended the wedding of Bernice Summerfield and Jason Kane in Cheldon Bonniface. By this time, he was in his seventies, well-tanned and stocky. (PROSE: Happy Endings)

Benton attended a Christmas dinner hosted by the Eighth Doctor at the Brigadier’s house. Together they shared a toast to faithful friends. (PROSE: Faithful Friends: Part 3)

The Eighth Doctor later visited Benton to collect his third self’s notes on Isaac’s music. The Doctor then informed Benton that he would die soon. (PROSE: DS Al Fine)


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