Shelley star Hywel Bennett dies at the age of 73

Welsh actor Hywel Bennett, best known for playing title role of James Shelley in popular sitcom Shelley, has died at the age of 73.

Welsh actor Hywel Bennett, best known for playing the title role of James Shelley in popular sitcom Shelley, has died at the age of 73.

Bennett rose to fame during the late 70s and early 80s after Shelley proved to be immensely popular, pulling in up to 18 million viewers.

The show followed James Shelley –  an educated, sardonic, permanently unemployed ‘professional freelance layabout’ – as he battled with authority, the tax-man, his landlady and his girlfriend Fran.

Bennett reprised the character in The Return of Shelley, running for four series from 1988 to 1992. A DVD box-set, scheduled for release in November, is testament to the enduring appeal of the show.

In recent years, Bennett returned to the small screen in a variety of memorable roles, including gangster Jack Dalton in Eastenders in 2003.

He retired from acting in 2007 due to ill health and lived in the coastal resort of Deal, Kent.

According to the Independent Bennett died on July 25th.

Fans took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late star.

Simon Threadgold (@dimwittedly) tweeted: Only just heard Hywel Bennett died. A fantastic actor, equally adept at the verbose whimsy of Sheridan or the gritty cynicism of le Carré.

Bennett Arron wrote: Just read that Hywel Bennett died. How sad. Never had the real recognition. He was a great actor and Shelley was a fantastic sitcom. RIP