John Benfield (real name John Turner), best known for playing DCS Michael Kernan in the ITV crime drama Prime Suspect, has died at the age of 68. He had been battling Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
He reportedly died on 16th June at Oxford’s Sobell House Hospice, according to an obituary in Oxford Mail.
He has been described by his fans as an “amazing actor” and “a gift to the industry”.
John was born in Essex in 1951 and attended the Webber Douglas School of Drama.
But before he found his love for acting, he had quite the CV, including jobs such as chauffeuring and he was also in the ambulance service before going to studying history at Nottingham University at the age of 23.
His agents Markham, Froggatt & Irwin said he always brought a “truth and integrity to his roles and was an imposing, strong and rugged figure, with a soul and belief in his craft.”
John has appeared in over 70 films and TV series over his career.
He started out with small roles in BBC‘s The Day of the Triffids and The Winter’s Tale, before eventually securing the role of Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Kernan, starring opposite Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect.
The show first aired in 1991 and Benfield played the role until 1995.
The early episodes were watched by 14 million viewers.
The series ran for two seasons, but Benfield made his impression on the acting industry with his powerful performance.
He featured in a number of movies alongside his TV work, his credits including Speed Racer, Cassandra’s Dream, Endgame, In the Name of the Father, Buster and The Best Offer, which came out in 2013.
Most recently, he played Captain Axel in Cold Skin.
He also featured in another ITV popular crime drama, where he reprised his role as a detective, portraying DI Brook in Floodtide.
He also appeared as a recurring character in Sharpe’s Revenge, The Worst Week of My Life, Eurocops, and Maigret.
Over his career, he worked with numerous critically-acclaimed directors including the Wachowskis, Woody Allen, Gillian Armstrong, Jim Sheridan, Ken Loach, David Drury, Chris Menaul and Sam Mendes.
News of his death sparked a sadness among fans of the actor, who took to Twitter to share their memories.
One said: “He was one of those reassuring faces that would pop up in a drama or comedy & you knew you’d be in good hands.”
Another sent their condolences: “Sad news, love to his family.”