17 November 1940
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales
|Other names||William Simmons|
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, 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 and worked as a stage manager for four years before deciding to become an adult actor.
William as a boy actor.
He played PC Ventress for the entire 18-year run of Heartbeat. Although playing a heavy smoker, Simons is a non-smoker in real life and was given herbal cigarettes to play the part. 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.
Simons, front right, with fellow actors Nick Berry, Derek Fowlds and Mark Jordon, in Heartbeat.
Other acting roles
Other roles have included recurring parts in Crown Court as the barrister Martin O'Connor QC, The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries as Inspector Fox, Cribb as Constable Thackeray and the 1977 Doctor Who story The Sun Makers as Mandrel. He has also appeared in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Coronation Street, The Sweeney, Minder, Dempsey & Makepeace, Last of the Summer Wine, The Darling Buds of May, Wish Me Luck, Bergerac, Casualty and Lovejoy.
- No Place for Jennifer (1950) – Boy (uncredited)
- Where No Vultures Fly (1951) – Tim Payton
- West of Zanzibar (1954) – Tim Payton
- Not So Dusty (1956) – Derek Clark
- On the Fiddle (1961) – Private (uncredited)
- Mystery Submarine (1963) – Leading Seaman Grant
- Clash by Night (1964) – Guard Outside Barn (uncredited)
- Pope John Paul II (1984, TV film) – Foreman Krauze
- The Woman in Black (1989, TV film) – John Keckwick
- Padman, Tony (7 September 2013). "Whatever happened to Heartbeats PC Alf Ventress". The Sunday Express. Retrieved 10 August 2014.