Bill Maynard

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Bill Maynard
Bill Maynard actor portrait.jpg
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

Walter Frederick George Williams (8 October 1928 – 30 March 2018),[4] was an English comedian and actor who operated under the stage name Bill Maynard.[5] He starred in British sitcoms during the 1970s and 80s, including Oh No It's Selwyn Froggitt and The Gaffer, as well as appearing in five films in the Carry On series. After a hiatus from television work in the late 1980s, Maynard starred in the long-running television series Heartbeat from 1992 to 2000, reprising his role for the spin-off The Royal from 2002 to 2003.

Williams was born in Surrey, but mainly lived within Leicestershire throughout his personal life. He maintained two consecutive marriages, before becoming single for the remainder of his later years. After suffering strokes that impaired his mobility, he retired from acting, making special television appearances where possible. He died in hospital at the age of 89, following an accident in March 2018.

Early life and career[edit]

Walter Williams began as a variety performer in the 1950's, under the stage name of Bill Maynard  – the surname was inspired from seeing a billboard for the popular British confectionery, Maynard's Wine Gums, when he was to do performances for the BBC.[6] Maynard's first television broadcast was on 12 September 1953 on Henry Hall’s Face the Music. For much of his career until the 1970s, his work was mostly towards performances: he entered and placed fourth in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest; he worked alongside Terry Scott for the TV series Great Scott - It's Maynard!, after they worked together at Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness;[2] and he served as part of the news team on the One O'Clock Show for Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle (1959–64). He also served for BBC Radio Leicester during the 1960s, until his departure in 1968.

In 1971, Maynard entered into acting, securing a role on Dennis Potter's television play Paper Roses, which was about the last day in the life of a reporter, and then securing another role for Colin Welland's television play, Kisses at Fifty in 1973. Around the same year, he worked with television actor and comedian Ronnie Barker in the (original) "Football Blues", which aired as "Spanners Eleven", and was part of a series called Seven of One. In 1974, Maynard became a subject of This Is Your Life, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.[7] Around the same time, Maynard went to work for Yorkshire Television, starring in a pilot episode for a new sitcom. In 1975, he published his autobiography, The Yo-Yo Man, with Leicester's Golden Eagle books,[8] before a year later taking on the lead role in the sitcom Oh No It's Selwyn Froggitt between 1976 and 1978. In 1981, he starred in ITV sitcom The Gaffer, until its conclusion two years later in 1983.

During the 1970s, Maynard secured roles in a number of films: he starred in five of the Carry On films, including Carry On Matron (1972) and Carry On Dick (1974);[9] he starred alongside Anthony Booth, Robin Askwith and Doris Hare in the 70s sex-comedy, "confessions" films; and he appeared in the 1976 film It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet.

In April 1992, he returned to Yorkshire Television after being offered a role as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass for the new ITV drama series Heartbeat, during which time, he published a new book, Stand Up...And Be Counted, in 1997 with Breedon Books.[10] He remained with Heartbeat until December 2000, when he was forced to retire from the programme following a series of strokes.[2] Despite this, he returned to acting in 2002 to reprise his character in spin off series The Royal until 2003.[2] Maynard made a comeback to radio in March of that year on BBC Radio Leicester. His programme 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] By then, his career slowly wound down due to his age and impaired mobility from his strokes, whereupon his final television appearance was made on 14 April 2018 for an episode of Pointless Celebrities; filming had been done before his death, with the episode aired two weeks after his funeral.

Personal life[edit]

Maynard was born in Farnham, Surrey, whereupon his family moved north to Leicestershire. He was educated at Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School.

Maynard lived in Burbage, 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.

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]

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[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Heartbeat actor Bill Maynard dies at 89". BBC News. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "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. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Maynard, Bill (1975). The Yo-Yo Man: The Autobiography of Bill Maynard. London: Golden Eagle Press. ISBN 0901482218.
  9. ^ McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781526111968 – via Google Books.
  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. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2016.

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