St Albans actor Ben Richards reveals cancer battle on Twitter

TV actor and West End theatre star Ben Richards, who lives in St Albans, has announced that he is battling cancer shortly after he was due to fly to Los Angeles for a filming stint.

Updating his Twitter page with the news of his health problem, the 39 year old, who rose to fame as Bruno Milligan in Footballers’ Wives, wrote: “After getting scariest news yesterday, I have to now postpone my LA adventure for at least six months. I was born a fighter and will fight this.”

Days later Ben wrote: “Great meeting with oncologist today, lovely guy, v. positive, I was terrified he’d give me bad news. @helenrichards37 was my rock by my side.”

A post on the same social networking site later that day read: “So, am supposed to be heading to LA today, instead I’m meeting my oncologist to discuss my course of chemo and radiotherapy. Yep, time to battle the big C. Prognosis is good gang and should kick this into touch in about six months, well this should be a different journey.”.

Ben, originally from West Sussex, lives with wife Helen, 37, and pet Maltese Terrier, Benson, close to London Road. The couple have been blighted by tragedy since marrying in 2003, losing four babies, each stillborn due to a rare condition. Of his cancer revelation, Helen has tweeted, “Could life be any crueller right now?” and “I’m really struggling tonight. Love you so so much”, adding that she keeps hoping to be slapped in the face with a wet fish and told it’s all a big joke.

Ben has not revealed which type of cancer he is suffering from but has supported several cancer charities for years, including the Teenage Cancer Trust. He is a patron of the Chestnut Tree Hospice in Sussex and ran 10k for Cancer Research UK in 2009.

The day after receiving his diagnosis, Ben – who enjoyed a long stint in The Bill as PC Nate Roberts – took part in a workshop for Tim Rice’s new musical. Expected to be staged next year, From Here to Eternity has Ben set to play Sergeant Warden, originally portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the 1953 film.

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He has just finished playing Hook in the panto Peter Pan in Southampton with Les Dennis. In 2010, Ben took over from Jason Donovan in his lead cross-dressing role in Palace Theatre’s Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert. Other show credits include Saturday Night Fever, The Full Monty, Grease and Guys and Dolls.

Ben appeared with his family on All Star Family Fortunes, in Children in Need and was a judge on Strictly Dance Fever, presented by Graham Norton, alongside choreographer Arlene Phillips.

His celebrity pals include Claire Sweeney, West End actor Sheridan Smith (Legally Blonde), comedian Jon Bishop and Coronation Street’s Sally Lindsay, who is one of ITV’s Loose Women on which Ben occasionally features as a guest.

Ben and Helen holidayed in Valencia, Spain, last week, joking about “dot tattoos”, referring to a procedure involving marking the skin as part of preparation for radiotherapy.

He quipped: “CT scan today and I’m the proud owner of three random tattoo dots either side of my butt and just below my coccyx, apparently it’s to line up the radiotherapy. Gonna start a dot tattoo craze, who’s in?” A later post reads: “Excellent response to my last tweet, seems we have a little gang of dot tattoo’s (sic) going on, let’s get #dot tattoo trending, wanna see who else has them”.

Follow Ben on @benrichardsact or visit his website at