Clifford William Cumberbatch Simons
17 November 1940
|Died||21 June 2019 (aged 78)|
|Other names||William Simmons|
Simons was born 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, 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. Later in life, he would become a patron of the charity Changing Faces, which supports people with facial deformities.
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. 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 rolesEdit
Other roles included recurring parts in Crown Court as the barrister Martin O'Connor QC, The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries as Inspector Fox, Cribb as Constable Thackeray and the 1977 Doctor Who story The Sun Makers as Mandrel. He also appeared in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Francis Storm Investigates, Coronation Street, The Sweeney, Minder as Pongo, Dempsey & Makepeace, The Darling Buds of May, Wish Me Luck, Bergerac, Casualty, Lovejoy and Rumpole of the Bailey.
- No Place for Jennifer (1950) - Jeremy
- Where No Vultures Fly (1951) – Tim Payton
- West of Zanzibar (1954) – Tim Payton
- Not So Dusty (1956) – Derek Clark
- On the Fiddle (1961) – Private (uncredited)
- Mystery Submarine (1963) – Leading Seaman Grant
- Clash by Night (1964) – Guard Outside Barn (uncredited)
- Pope John Paul II (1984, TV film) – Foreman Krauze
- The Woman in Black (1989, TV film) – John Keckwick
- Evans, Chris, ed. (27 June 2019). "William Simons Obituary". The Daily Telegraph (51, 042). p. 23. ISSN 0307-1235.
- Hayward, Anthony (27 June 2019). "William Simons obituary". The Guardian.
- "Heartbeat actor William Simons dies aged 79". BBC News. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
- "In memory of Yorkshire actor William Simons who starred in every Heartbeat series". The Yorkshire Post. 22 June 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
- Padman, Tony (7 September 2013). "Whatever happened to Heartbeats PC Alf Ventress". The Sunday Express. Retrieved 10 August 2014.