Bill Maynard

Walter Frederick George Williams (8 October 1928 30 March 2018),[4] better known by the stage name Bill Maynard, was an English comedian and actor.[5]

Bill Maynard
Birth nameWalter Frederick George Williams
Born(1928-10-08)8 October 1928
Heath End, Surrey, England
Died30 March 2018(2018-03-30) (aged 89)
Leicestershire, England[1]
Years active1953–2018
GenresComedy, television
SpouseMuriel Linnett (1949–1983)

Tonia Bern (1989–1998; divorced[2][3])
Notable works and rolesSee below

Early life and career

Maynard was born at 5 Oak Cottages, Heath End, Farnham, Surrey, and attended Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School in Leicestershire. He began as a variety performer, taking his professional surname from a billboard for Maynard's Wine Gums, a popular British confectionery. Years later he recounted that the BBC had asked him to change his surname so said to himself "That'll do".[6] Maynard's first television broadcast was on 12 September 1953 on Henry Hall’s Face the Music.

He was placed fourth in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest. With Terry Scott, he appeared at Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness and partnered him in the TV series Great Scott - It's Maynard!.[2]

He was part of the team that presented the One O'Clock Show for Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle (1959–64). He appeared in Dennis Potter's television play Paper Roses (1971), about the last day in the life of a reporter, and another notable straight acting role followed when he appeared in Colin Welland's television play, Kisses at Fifty (1973). Around the same time, Maynard worked with television actor and comedian Ronnie Barker in the (original) "Football Blues" which aired as "Spanners Eleven" (also 1973) and was part of a series called Seven of One.

After a pilot episode in 1974, he starred in the Yorkshire Television sitcom Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! (1976–78) in which he played the eponymous lead role. The programme ran for four series, the last, in 1978, as Selwyn. Later, for the same ITV contractor, he played Fred Moffatt in The Gaffer (1981–83). His record called "Stock Car Racing is Magic!" was released in 1979, which is still played at stock car meetings, made use of Froggitt's "magic" catchphrase.

A member of the Carry On Team, Maynard appeared in five of the Carry On films, including Carry On Matron (1972) and Carry On Dick (1974).[7] He had a film role as Yorkshire farmer Hinchcliffe in It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1976).

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1974 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.[8] Maynard published his autobiography The Yo-Yo Man in November 1975 (published by Leicester's Golden Eagle books),[9] and Stand Up...And Be Counted in 1997 (Breedon Books).[10] In April 1992, he returned to Yorkshire Television, and began playing the lovable old rogue Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, in the popular and long-running television series Heartbeat, remaining in the show until December 2000, and its spin off series The Royal until 2003.[2]

Having originally retired from acting in 2000 following a series of strokes,[2] he made a comeback to radio presenting in March 2003, for BBC Radio Leicester, where he had last worked in 1968. His show, called Bill of Fare, aired every Sunday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm for nearly five years, until he was dismissed without notice on 5 February 2008.[2]

In October 2009, he made a return to the stage when he appeared as the main guest of honour at the Pride of Bridlington Awards held in the East Riding of Yorkshire.[11]

In March 1984, Maynard stood against Tony Benn in the by election at Chesterfield as an Independent Labour candidate. It was his sole foray into politics and was intended to prevent Benn returning to Parliament. Benn retained the seat; Maynard took fourth place.[12]

His final television appearance aired on 14 April 2018. Maynard appeared on Pointless Celebrities along with Tricia Penrose.

Personal life

Maynard lived in Leicestershire during the latter part of his life.

He married Muriel Linnett on 5 November 1949, and they had two children. She died in June 1983.[2] Maynard was a vegetarian. His son is musician Martin Maynard Williams.

On 4 September 1989, Maynard married Tonia Bern, widow of Donald Campbell, at Hinckley Registry Office. They divorced in 1998.

In later life, Maynard was mobility impaired, usually using a mobility scooter or wheelchair, having suffered from multiple strokes. He died in hospital on 30 March 2018, not long after falling and breaking his hip.[1]

Television and filmography


  1. "Heartbeat actor Bill Maynard dies at 89". BBC News. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  2. "Where are they now? Heartbeat actor Bill Maynard". The Daily Express. 17 January 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  3. Barker, Dennis (30 March 2018). "Bill Maynard obituary". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  4. Heartbeat actor Bill Maynard dies after fall
  5. "Bill Maynard". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. On the 15 October 2010 episode of the Alan Titchmarsh Show.
  7. McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781526111968 via Google Books.
  8. "After 60 years, Bill Maynard has last laugh on his critics". Leicester Mercury. 16 September 2013. Archived from the original on 27 October 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  9. Maynard, Bill (1975). The Yo-Yo Man: The Autobiography of Bill Maynard. London: Golden Eagle Press. ISBN 0901482218.
  10. Maynard, Bill; Sheard, John (1997). Stand Up and Be Counted. Derby: Breedon Books. ISBN 9781859830802.
  11. "Local Pride awards honoured 'caring and amazing people'". Bridlington Free Press. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  12. Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1983-87 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
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