William Simons

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William Simons
Clifford William Cumberbatch Simons [1]

(1940-11-17)17 November 1940
Died21 June 2019(2019-06-21) (aged 78) [2] [3] [4]
London, England
Other namesWilliam Simmons
OccupationActor, presenter
Years active1950–2017

Clifford William Cumberbatch Simons (17 November 1940 – 21 June 2019) was a Welsh-born actor best known for his role as PC Alf Ventress in Heartbeat , a role he played for 18 years, from 1992 to 2010.


Early life

Simons was born on 17 November 1940 in Swansea where his father was stationed in the Second World War and he grew up in South Wales until the family moved to North London. He started acting as a child, [5] appearing in the films No Place for Jennifer (1950), Where No Vultures Fly (1951) and West of Zanzibar (1954). He then suffered from severe acne, which caused him to prefer working backstage as a stage manager for four years before deciding to become an adult actor. [6] Later in life, he would become a patron of the charity Changing Faces, which supports people with facial deformities. [3]


He played PC Ventress for the entire 18-year run of Heartbeat. Although playing a heavy smoker, Simons was a non-smoker in real life and was given herbal cigarettes to play the part. [6] The character is a policeman that lacks in the physical side but makes up for that with his ‘local knowledge’. Ventress is the longest serving officer for much of the drama and often in a role as acting sergeant when Blaketon, Craddock and Merton are absent. In later series of the drama, Ventress is forced to retire from the force but continues as a civilian member of the team and also helps Oscar Blaketon (Derek Fowlds) in a private investigatory role. Simons was only absent from 4 subsequent episodes of Heartbeat throughout his entire stint playing constable Alf Ventress; during series 3.

Other acting roles

Other series regular roles in television included Martin O'Connor QC in Crown Court (1973-83), Constable Thackeray in Cribb (1979-81), and Inspector "Brer" Fox in The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries (1990-94).

Simons also made guest appearances in Doctor Who: The Sun Makers , [1] Auf Wiedersehen Pet , Francis Storm Investigates , Coronation Street , The Sweeney , Minder as 'Pongo' Harris, Dempsey & Makepeace , Give Us a Break , The Darling Buds of May , Wish Me Luck , Bergerac , Casualty , The Bill , Lovejoy , Enemy at the Door and Rumpole of the Bailey .

Partial filmography

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  1. 1 2 3 Evans, Chris, ed. (27 June 2019). "William Simons Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. No. 51, 042. p. 23. ISSN   0307-1235.
  2. Hayward, Anthony (27 June 2019). "William Simons obituary". The Guardian.
  3. 1 2 "Heartbeat actor William Simons dies aged 79". BBC News. 23 June 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  4. "In memory of Yorkshire actor William Simons who starred in every Heartbeat series". The Yorkshire Post. 22 June 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  5. http://www.boyactors.org.uk/actors/2389.jpg [ bare URL image file ]
  6. 1 2 Padman, Tony (7 September 2013). "Whatever happened to Heartbeats PC Alf Ventress". The Sunday Express . Retrieved 10 August 2014.