‘Heartbeat’ Actor William Simons Dies at Age 78: Report

Actor William Simons, best known for his role as PC Alf Ventress in the British television series “Heartbeat,” has died. He was 78.

Representatives for Simons confirmed he passed away on Friday, June 21, to The Sun and Metro.

“I confirm the extremely sad news that the actor William Simons has passed away,” his representative said in a statement to Metro.

“He worked as an actor for six decades and was of course best known for his role of ‘Alf Ventress’ in the highly popular Heartbeat in which he appeared for eighteen series, and also Inspector Fox in Inspector Alleyn.”

“More importantly, he was the most wonderful, lovely, warm, kind human being and anybody who ever worked with him or knew him will be devastated,” he added.

Born in South Wales on Nov. 17, 1940, Simons started his acting career young, beginning when he was just eight years old. His first film role was at the age of 10 in a dramatization of Phyllis Hambleton’s book, “No Place for Jennifer,” according to the Yorkshire Post.

The next year, at 11 years old, Simons starred alongside Dinah Sheridan and Anthony Steel in the exotic adventure “Ivory Hunter”(1951), also called “Where No Vultures Fly,” according to IMDb.

Ivory Hunter
From left to right, Dinah Sheridan, William Simons and Anthony Steel (1920 – 2001) on the set of the Ealing adventure film ‘Ivory Hunter’, also titled ‘Where No Vultures Fly’ in 1951. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In an interview with Express, Simons spoke about his six-decade acting career.

“As a boy, I showed an aptitude for acting, singing, and dancing, so my mother was asked if I’d like to star in family drama No Place For Jennifer (1950) with child actress Jannete Scott,” he said at the time.

He also spoke about his time playing PC Alf Ventress.

“Alf Ventress had no particular ambition in life. He spent his time behind the desk; he was a heavy smoker—unlike me. I don’t smoke, so we used herbal cigarettes,” he said, adding, “Heartbeat gave me enormous pleasure because everyone got along so well. People still stop me to say how much they love watching the repeats.

“In 1994, my late wife, Janie [who died in 2002] and I bought our little cottage near the Heartbeat location. I sold it 14 years later because it was impossible to step outside without being recognized as visitor numbers escalated with Heartbeat’s popularity,” he said.

In his long acting career, Simons starred in “Emmerdale” (1976), “Doctor Who”  where he played Mandrel in 1977, “Crown Court” (1972-1983), “Coronation Street” (1972-1987), and BBC’s “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” (1990-1994), according to IMDb, to name a few.

“He’ll be just terribly missed by anyone who ever met him,” Simons’ agent, Bryn Newton told The Sun.

“He was a much loved human, the word gentleman really applied to him. He was a gentle man,” he added. “He worked every single year until about three years ago.”

Simons’ last on-screen appearance was in the hospital television series “Casualty” in 2014, according to IMDb.

He is survived by his second wife, Jackie.

A “Heartbeat” show fan page posted on Facebook: “RIP ALF…Words can not describe our feelings right now. An absolute legend. His loss will be felt throughout the Heartbeat community and beyond.”