The British TV star, whose real name was John Turner, is said to have battled a rare form of cancer and died at the Sobell House Hospice in Oxford on 16 June.
John’s agents told the Oxford Mail that the actor had always brought “truth and integrity to his roles and was an imposing, strong and rugged figure, with a soul and belief in his craft”.
The actor was best known for his role as Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Kernan in ITV’s Prime Suspect alongside Dame Helen Mirren.
The hugely popular police drama, which aired between 1991 and 2006, focused on a no-nonsense female Detective Chief Inspector, Jane Tennison (Mirren) who has to prove herself in a male-dominated profession, with the support of her boss, DCS Mike Kernan (Benfield).
He appeared in over 70 other TV shows or films throughout his career, including Buster (1988), Beautiful Thing (1996) and the TV shows Doctor Who, Hippies, The Worst Week of My Life and Sharpe’s Revenge.
He is survived by his wife Lilian, son Freddie, and grandson Rex.