Simon Williams (actor)

Simon Williams (born 16 June 1946) is an English actor known for playing James Bellamy in the period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. Frequently playing upper middle class or aristocratic upper class roles, he is also known for playing Charles Cartwright in the sitcom Don't Wait Up and Charles Merrick in medical drama Holby City. Since 2014, he has played the character of Justin Elliott in the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers.

Simon Williams
Born (1946-06-16) 16 June 1946
Years active1967 – present
Notable work
Upstairs Downstairs (1971–1975)
Agony (1979–1981)
Doctor Who (1988)
Dinnerladies (1998)
Holby City (2000–2003)
EastEnders (2017)
Spouse(s)Belinda Carroll (divorced)
Lucy Fleming (1986–present)

Early life and education

Simon Williams was born in Windsor in 1946;[1] his parents were actor Hugh Williams and actor/model Margaret Vyner.[2] His sister Polly married his Don't Wait Up co-star and friend Nigel Havers.[2] His brother is the poet Hugo Williams.

Williams was educated at Harrow School.[2][3] He trained in repertory at Worthing, Birmingham and Bath, and later joined the Theatre Workshop.[1]


Film, television and radio

Williams has appeared on stage in many productions, and has also directed a number of plays.[1] He first appeared on television in 1967 in Man in a Suitcase, and in 1969 played the lead role in Slim John. He got his big break in 1971 when he made his first appearance as James Bellamy in the Upstairs, Downstairs episode "Board Wages". Williams would go on to appear in 37 episodes until the penultimate episode "All the King's Horses" in 1975. Following this, he appeared in Wodehouse Playhouse. From 1979 to 1981, he played Laurence Lucas in Agony, a role he reprised in 1995 in Agony Again. His film career includes appearances in The Touchables (1968), The Breaking of Bumbo (1970), The Blood on Satan's Claw (1970), Three for All (1976), The Incredible Sarah (1976), Jabberwocky (1977), The Uncanny (1977), The Odd Job (1978), and the Peter Sellers films The Prisoner of Zenda (1979), and The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980). He also played Nigel Pennington-Smythe in the TV reunion film Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983). In 1996, he voiced the Bishop in The Willows in Winter.

In 1981, he played Buddo in the TV series Kinvig. In 1985, Williams replaced Richard Heffer to play Dr. Charles Cartwright in the sitcom Don't Wait Up, a role Williams continued for three series until 1990. In the meantime, he had also appeared in Juliet Bravo, the Doctor Who serial "Remembrance of the Daleks" as Group Captain Gilmore, Minder, and the pilot of The Alleyn Mysteries, in which he played Roderick Alleyn. He also was a guest star on the TV series Cluedo where he played murder victim, Mr. Chapman.

Williams also played Captain Hastings in several BBC Radio 4 adaptations of Agatha Christie novels, starring John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot.

Since 1990

Simon Williams has appeared in episodes of Bergerac, Dangerfield, Dinnerladies, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dalziel and Pascoe, Bad Girls, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Starhunter 2300, Cutting It, Heartbeat, Family Affairs, Doctors, The Bill, Diamond Geezer 2, Kingdom and First Among Equals. In 1992 Williams starred in the series The Mixer, his co-star was Jeremy Clyde of Chad & Jeremy fame, and appeared as Charles Elliot in the 1997 film The Opium War. Williams has also had recurring roles as Gerald Trigg in Law and Disorder in 1994 and Sir Charles Merrick in Holby City from 2000 to 2003. In 2000, he appeared on BBC Radio's Just a Minute. In 2002 he appeared in the film The Gathering Storm, and has also appeared in the Doctor Who audio drama Nekromanteia. In 2008, he appeared in an episode of the BBC spy series Spooks as bank owner Sir Francis Denham. In 2009, Williams returned to the fictional world of Holby to make a one-off appearance in Casualty as Professor de Silva, the father of junior doctor Toby de Silva. In 2010, he appeared as Lord Godwyn in the television series Merlin in the episode "The Changeling".

In 2010, Williams contributed to the CD We Will Remember Them, published by the Royal British Legion, where he read three of the poems. Williams has also written two novels, Talking Oscars and Kill the Lights, and has written several plays.[1] In early November 2007, He performed in Curtain up! Lights up! Cock up! at the Jermyn Street Theatre near Piccadilly Circus in London.[4]

Williams has served the Actors' Charitable Trust and Denville Hall for more than 30 years, including 15 years as joint Chairman with Angela Thorne. He also donates his time and expertise to the Sir Terence Rattigan Charitable Trust, the King George V Fund for Actors and Actresses, and several other charities.

Williams made a guest appearance in the fourth season of the Canadian series Murdoch Mysteries, in 2011, called, "Downstairs, Upstairs", in honour of the actor's famous role.[5] However, in this episode Williams played the butler.

In September and October 2011, Williams reprised the role of Group Captain Ian Gilmore in the Big Finish Productions audio series 'Counter-Measures' (released in July 2012). A second series was recorded in October 2012 and released in June 2013. Gilmore will also return in the Big Finish '1963' set.

In 2012, Williams appeared in Chariots of Fire, the stage adaptation of the film of the same title. He played the Master of Caius College, Cambridge, the role originated on screen by Lindsay Anderson.

In 2014, Williams was engaged to play "Justin Elliott", boss of a private equity company buying up land around the village of Ambridge in the long-running radio serial "The Archers".

In 2015 Williams appeared as Jeremiah Moxley in the BBC TV series Father Brown episode 3.7 "The Kembleford Boggart"

In 2017 Williams made some brief appearances as Hugo Browning, the chairman of development company Weyland & Co. and also the brother in law of James Willmott-Brown in BBC One soap EastEnders.

In 2018 Williams appeared in Alan Bennett's play 'Allelujah' at the Bridge Theatre, London.

Personal life

Williams married actress Belinda Carroll, the sister of actress Kate O'Mara, with whom he had two children, Tam and Amy, both actors. They divorced.[2] He married again in 1986 to the actress Lucy Fleming, the daughter of Peter Fleming and Celia Johnson and the niece of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.[2]


  1. "Simon Williams (Playwright)". Peters, Fraser & Dunlop. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  2. "Simon Williams at". 2007.
  3. Button 2011.
  4. London Theatre Guide - Online : News October 2007
  5. "'Murdoch' mysteries revealed". Retrieved 28 July 2010.
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