Leaving home at 21, John Anthony Woods started off working in a tailors shop on Regents Street, London. He was inspired to become an actor when Telly Savalas
, who at the time was working on "The Dirty Dozen", walked into the shop. Savalas commented they needed extras in the film, so John went to audition for the part of one of the men who beat up Charles Bronson
’s character in a toilet but was turned away as he was not a union member.
John therefore joined an agency who employed extras. He had to change his name to John Levene to avoid confusion with another John Woods who was already registered with the union. He started off as a desk sergeant answering the telephone in Z Cars
and appeared in two Doctor Who
serials: firstly as a Cyberman extra in The Moonbase
then as a Yeti extra in The Web of Fear
. When it came to The Invasion
, Levene was once again cast as a Cyberman extra but got the part of Benton after the original actor was sacked. In 1970’s The Ambassadors of Death
, the character was promoted to Sergeant and became a regular over the next few years before being written out in The Android Invasion
In 1977, Levene retired from acting and in the 1980s moved to America but has acted in one or two things since such as video drama Wartime
(where he reprised his role as Benton). He does return to the UK at times to do signings/events and record DVD commentaries. So far he’s done:
Inferno Episodes 3
The Time Monster Episodes Two
Invasion of the Dinosaurs Part Five
John is married to Jennifer Woods (formerly Jennifer Wegner) and is the father of two adult children from his previously marriage. He has done some voiceover work for Disney and The Queen Mary Hotel. Although John has done a little acting work in Hollywood, he is really a producer at heart and has produced celebrity charity shows and other events.