William Simons

This is a picture of William Simons posed for when he was out in Africa filming ‘West Of Zanzibar’ with Anthony Steel in 1953 – Filming actually started in January of 1953 – the film being released in 1954.

William had spent quite a long time over there – again with Anthony Steel – when making ‘Where No Vultures Fly’ – so in those couple of years he had lived on the African Continent for months.


William Simons

However this would seem only a short time span when years later he was cast as Alf Ventress in the long running TV series Heartbeat – and that meant he virtually lived in North Yorkshire for 18 years. I do think that he was in every episode – but I am wrong here. There were 372 episodes made and William was in 355 of them.   Wonderful achievement.


A child actor from the age of eight, William has starred in many popular TV dramas in a career spanning more than 60 years.

William Simons 2

Above: William Simons with Tom Baker in Dr.Who

He had this to say during a 2013 newspaper interview :-

“I grew up in south Wales because my father was stationed there during the war and then we moved to north London.

“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. ” I spent 15 months in the Kenyan bush playing Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan’s son, Tim, in Where No Vultures Fly (1951) and the follow-up West Of Zanzibar (1954)

“Aged 15, I developed acne so bad, I just wanted to run away and hide. Rather than go to university later on, I became a stage manager.

After four years, it felt like too much hard work and I decided to try my luck as an adult actor.

William Simons

“Funnily enough, I was also playing another policeman called Inspector Fox in the BBC’s Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, while making the first two series of Heartbeat. “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 cigaaretes.

“Heartbeat gave me enormous pleasure because everyone got along so well.

William as Alf Ventress

Above: In his most famous – and longest running – Role as Alf Ventress in Heartbeat

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 recognised as visitor numbers escalated with Heartbeat’s popularity.

“The cast have all kept in touch and I always look forward to our reunions.

“I’ve been a patron of the Changing Faces charity for 11 years. They do brilliant work in helping people and their families who have suffered terrible disfigurements. My acne is relatively minor, but I’ve seen how people have managed to take control of their lives thanks to Changing Faces.

“Although I am available for work, I’m enjoying the easier pace of life. But if the phone rings and it’s something I’d like to do then I’m happy.”

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comment (1)

One Response to “William Simons”

  1. Alan Keeling says:

    I recall seeing William Simons in a 1961 episode of The Pursuers and as Constable Thackeray in Granada’s Cribb series, and also as a long-haired thug in Central’s Boon.

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