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Published on April 20th, 2005 | by Christian Cawley

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John Bennett Obituary

Following the sad loss on April 11th of the actor John Bennett, Kasterborous would like to add our condolences to those already received.

John Bennett was best known to Doctor Who fans as the General Finch in 1974′s Jon Pertwee adventure Invasion of the Dinosaurs and more famously as the villainous Li H’sen Chang in the iconic Tom Baker story The Talons of Weng Chiang in 1977.

In February, Kasterborous ran a 3-part feature on the wonderful story, The Talons of Weng Chiang. We had this to say about John Bennett’s portrayal of Li H’sen Chang, which seems more than appropriate at this point:

So, a figure of respect, intelligence and gifted amazing powers steals women from the night streets to allow his god to feed from their life essence. Li H’sen Chang could be described as a monster in the truest sense of the word. He has no feelings for his fellow humans, no pity. There is no depth to which he will sink to aid his god, no task he would turn down. Gifted extraordinary mental powers by Weng Chiang, he uses them not for good but to follow his twisted master’s bidding.

John Bennett, the actor who turned Li H’sen Chiang into a three dimensional character and not another ciphered Chinaman, had previously appeared in Doctor Who as General Finch in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. He is an actor of standing in the industry, having worked almost constantly since the early 1960s – recent work has included “The Fifth Element” (1997), “Heartbeat” (1999), “The Pianist” and “Minority Report” (both 2002). While most productions at the BBC in the second half of the 1970s shied away from employing actors of one race to portray a character of another, the production team (Producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and Script Editor Robert Holmes) wisely chose against …(this option)

So with a little makeup, and a suitable attention to detail, John Bennett turns Li H’sen Chang into a selfish, god-fearing puppet, happy to obey his master’s disgusting commands – blind to the truth, yet it stares him in the face…

The Independent has published a suitable account of Bennett’s career, recounting his involvement with some of televisions most remembered shows and his earlier ambitions to become and architect. His career as a character actor spanned 45 years, and his talents will be sadly missed.

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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