Skip to main content

Former Emmerdale actor Jay Benedict dies from coronavirus aged 68

Jay Benedict
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 5: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Director Vicente Aranda with Richard Johnson and actor Jay Benedict attend the UK Gala Film Premiere of "Carmen" at the Curzon Mayfair on September 5, 2004 in London. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images) (Image credit: Getty Images)

The actor dies 'due to COVID-19 complications'...

Actor Jay Benedict, better known to soap fans as Emmerdale businessman Doug Hamilton, tragically died on 4th April after contracting coronavirus.

A statement on his website has announced: "It is with profound sorrow that we must announce Jay's death on the 4th April due to complications arising from a COVID-19 infection."

Jay Benedict

Jay also starred opposite Abi Titmuss in Two-Way Mirror (Picture: Getty) (Image credit: Getty Images)

American-born Jay starred in Emmerdale back in 1997, and is well known for his role as John Kieffer, the US Army Officer in Foyle's War.

His more recent projects have included Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife.

He also starred opposite Abi Titmuss in the stage adaptation of Two-Way Mirror.

WHAT IS ON TONIGHT? Check out our NEW and improved TV Guide

He also appeared in James Cameron's 1986 sci-fi classic Aliens as Russ Jordan, and also starred in movie The Dark Knight Rises.

Tributes have been pouring in for the actor from both fans of his work and also former colleagues who had the pleasure of working with Jay over the years...

See more
See more
See more
See more
See more

As well as acting, Jay also ran the Sync or Swim video production company with his wife Phoebe Scholfield.

As well as leaving behind his wife Phoebe, Jay also had two sons, Leopold and Freddie, as well as a daughter from a previous relationship.

In a tribute to the actor, his website reveals: "Jay was born in California, but his family left the United States for Europe when he was a child.

"As a legacy of his itinerant he was English/French bilingual, and no slouch in Spanish and German, either.

"People who met him in real life were surprised that he sounded more English than American.

"This didn't, however, prevent most casting agents from insisting that he play Americans, which he did happily and not entirely surprisingly, like a native."

Emmerdale’s scheduling pattern has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and now airs three episodes a week on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 7pm on ITV.

Claire Crick
Claire Crick

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.