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TOY SOLDIER

Why is John Levene celebrating half a century of UNIT’s Sergeant Benton with a tour round a factory in Nottingham? DWM tagged along to find out

Interview by PAUL KIRKLEY

Warlord Games’ computer-generated renders of UNIT soldiers and Sergeant Benton

In 1973 John Levene was filming Doctor Who in a Welsh coal mine when he spotted a young boy watching nervously from the sidelines.

“I went over to him and said, ‘You look a bit scared,’” John recalls. “He said, ‘Jon Pertwee is my hero, and I would like to say hello to him.’ So I took him up to Jon…” The actor interrupts his own story at this point to clarify something for us. “I’m a feeling person,” he says. “I would do anything for anyone else before myself. I don’t do it for effect. I do it because I can’t help it.

“Anyway,” he continues, “43 years later, this boy, who had now grown into a man, came up to me at a signing and gave me this beautiful miner’s lamp, made of pure brass. He remembered that day, and he’d come all the way to Birmingham to give me this lamp.” Such is the enduring power of Doctor Who. This month marks 50 years since John made his debut as Corporal (later Sergeant) Benton in 1968’s The Invasion – the story that introduced the foo-fighting military black ops outfit UNIT to the world. And to celebrate this milestone, he’s come to spend the day looking around a factory in Nottingham. Like you do.

This isn’t just any factory, though. This is the home of Warlord Games, which since 2017 has been producing a Doctor Who tabletop game called Exterminate: Into the Time Vortex, accompanied by an ever-expanding army of beautifully detailed pewter miniatures. And now it’s John’s turn to be shrunk down to size – 28mm, to be precise – as Sergeant Benton prepares to hit the shelves as part of a new UNIT pack

John admires the render of the Sergeant Benton figure.
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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • An exclusive interview with Bradley Walsh • Previews of the next four episodes: Rosa, Arachnids in the UK, The Tsuranga Conundrum and Demons of the Punjab • A tribute to Michael Pickwoad, Doctor Who's production designer from 2010 to 2017 • A look back at the origins of UNIT, which made its debut in Doctor Who 50 years ago • DWM investigates the role a military organisation like UNIT plays in Doctor Who • An interview with John Levene, who played UNIT's Sergeant Benton • Members of Series 11's Script and Story Department describe their roles • The Thirteenth Doctor makes her DWM comic strip debut in part one of Warmonger • A tribute to Jacqueline Pearce, who was Chessene in 1985's The Two Doctors and more recently played Cardinal Ollistra in Big Finish's War Doctor audio adventures • The Time Team listens to some Who-related chart hits • Tips from Thirteenth Doctor cosplayers • Our verdict on the first two episodes of Series 11: The Woman Who Fell to Earth and The Ghost Monument • Previews, audio and book reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!