Paul Henry (actor)

For other people named Paul Henry, see Paul Henry (disambiguation).

Paul Henry, (born 1947) is a British actor, best known for his role as Benny Hawkins in the soap opera, Crossroads.


Born in Aston, Birmingham,[1] he attended the city's Alderlea Boys School in Shard End with Jeff Lynne. Henry trained at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, which was followed by eight years at the Birmingham Rep.[1] Between 1975 and 1988, he played his best-known role of Benny Hawkins, a handy-man in Crossroads.

In 1977, Henry recorded "Benny's Theme" with the Mayson Glen Orchestra, on Pye Records. It peaked at no. 39 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1978.[2] He was in character as Benny in the song, but spoke rather than sang.

His country boy style got him the part of Peter Stevens in The Archers for a time. Henry's post-Crossroads career included minor stage roles and running a nightclub in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but in 1994 he returned to television briefly in a tribute to Crossroads, called 30 Years On. In a 2002 interview, Henry declared that the public still love Benny and during a shopping trip, he came back to his car and found a person had left a piece of paper on it saying "Benny, we miss you".[3]

In 2004, he returned to acting on TV in an episode of the British medical soap opera Doctors. He then played regular character Frank, a bakers delivery man and later attempted rapist, in the seventh and penultimate series of the ITV1 prison drama Bad Girls.

Returning to the stage, in 2009 he appeared in a touring version of Run for Your Wife and the following year portrayed Tony Hancock in the play Hancock's Finest Hour.[1]

The slang phrase throwing a benny refers to someone having a temper tantrum and may originate from Henry's Crossroads character.[4]

Comedian Ronnie Barker later in his life revealed that he had suggested Henry should be cast as the character, Lennie Godber, opposite him in the sitcom Porridge, but the actor Richard Beckinsale was chosen instead by the television producer.[5]

Personal life

With wife Sheila, he had a son, Anthony and a daughter, Justine who died as a result of a traffic collision at the age of 19.[1] He also has a granddaughter and grandson of unknown names.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Paul Henry talks about Benny, Hancock and his own family tragedy". Sunday Mercury. 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  2. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 251. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. Paul Henry interview for the Crossroads Appreciation Society.
  4. "h2g2 - UK slang "Throwing a Benny" -". Retrieved 2013-05-20.
  5. "h2g2 - 'Porridge' - the TV Series - A713882". BBC. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
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