Paul Henry, best known for his role as Benny Hawkins in ITV soap Crossroads, is recovering following a life-saving cancer op.

Paul Henry as Benny in ATV’s Crossroads, 1978.

“It was all done on the NHS and they really looked after everyone on the ward. There were a lot of older people on the ward and the nurses were very patient with everyone. I just thought it would be nice if someone who has experienced care on the NHS, shares how they got on. I can’t fault the service.” – Paul Henry, speaking to Shropshire Star newspaper

Actor Paul Henry has praised NHS staff following a stint in hospital for cancer treatment. Paul, who has appeared in classic series such as The Sweeney and more recent drama hits such as Bad Girls, ‘praised ward “angels” for their care while he was being treated for prostate cancer at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.’ The Shropshire Star reports.

The 71-year-old performer, who has also performed as Tony Hancock in theatre, was born in Aston, Birmingham attending the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, which was followed by eight years at the Birmingham Rep. It was his role as Benny, in ATV’s Crossroads, from 1975 to 1988 that made him a television superstar and national figure.

British Forces in the Falklands Island called the local islanders Benny, after Henry’s character, as many of them wore Benny-style woolly hats. The slang phrase throwing a benny refers to someone having a temper tantrum as his character in the show was known for his short-fuse. Following Crossroads he appeared in Channel 4 saga Family Pride and has also had a guest spot in BBC One’s Doctors.

Paul as Benny in 1979.

Henry took time out from the profession following the death of his daughter in 1991. Now living in Whitchurch he was sent to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in March to undergo the live-saving surgery.

“I had prostate cancer and I had the operation on a Thursday and came out three days later. The surgeon Mr Lynn was fantastic. I think the staff at the hospital are angels.” – Paul Henry speaking to the Shropshire Star

Paul also urged men to be aware and keep checks on their body to spot early signs of cancer.

“And all I would say to men is to get themselves checked sooner rather than later. I went to see my GP and I told him that sometimes I had to rush to the bathroom. He suggested that I took blood tests, then a biopsy was arranged and a diagnosis was made at the beginning of January. There was a bit of a delay as I had to get over an infection before the surgery. I’m now on the road to recovery and everything is fine.” – Paul Henry speaking to the Shropshire Star

Crossroads, launched in 1964, was set in a West Midlands motel run by Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) and her family Jill (Jane Rossington) and Sandy (Roger Tonge). It was Britain’s first half-hour daily soap opera, inspired by the American daytime soaps of the 1950s. While hugely popular with audiences its stateside style format failed to impress critics who compared it to the bigger budget twice-weekly serials such as Coronation Street. Paul arrived in 1975 as village farm worker Benny who later became handyman at the motel and garage assistant.

His character was taught to read and write in early storylines by pal Diane (Susan Hanson) the storyline lead to a national literacy campaign fronted by the characters. Paul also had a top 40 single ‘Benny’s Theme’ in 1977 which had featured in a storyline in the saga.

The Crossroads Motel in 1968.
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