William Simons

Clifford William Cumberbatch Simons (17 November 1940 – 21 June 2019[2][3]) 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.

William Simons
Clifford William Cumberbatch Simons[1]

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

Early life

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[4], 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.[5] Later in life, he would become a patron of the charity Changing Faces, which supports people with facial deformities.[6]


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.[5] 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.

Other acting roles

Other roles included recurring parts in Crown Court as the barrister Martin O'Connor QC,[7] The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries as Inspector Fox, Cribb as Constable Thackeray and the 1977 Doctor Who story The Sun Makers as Mandrel.[1] He also appeared in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, 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.

Partial filmography


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