William Simons, best known for playing as PC Alf Ventress in Heartbeat, has passed away aged 79.
The Welsh-born actor starred in all 18 series of the ITV police drama between 1992 to 2010.
He is understood to have passed away yesterday.
William Simons (right) starred as PC Alf Ventress in ‘Heartbeat’ for 18 years. He is pictured alongside Nick Berry as PC Nick Rowan, Derek Fowlds as Sergeant Oscar Blaketon and Mark Katie Price as PC Phil Bellamy
Actor William Simons who passed away yesterday is pictured with his wife Jackie at their home on the North Yorkshire Moors
While his role as Alf Ventress in Heartbeat was characterised by his grumpiness and heavy smoking, Simons was known in private as gentle and had never smoked in his life.
Speaking in a rare interview in 2013, Simons said: ‘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.
‘Heartbeat gave me enormous pleasure because everyone got along so well. People still stop me to say how much they love watching the repeats.’
Confirming his death to The Sun today, Simons’ agent Bryn Newton said: ‘He’ll be just terribly missed by anyone who ever met him.
William Simons (right) playing Jim Cawley in Coronation Street in 1987
William Simons as PC Alf Ventress trying on his wedding top hat in Heartbeat
‘He was a much loved human, the word gentleman really applied to him. He was a gentle man.
‘He worked every single year until about three years ago.’
In a career spanning 60 years, Simons also starred in Coronation Street, The Sweener, Minder, Casualty and Last of the Summer Wine.
After Heartbeat ended nine years ago, Simons spent an increasing amount of time at the house he purchased in France.
Widowed in 2002, he is survived by his second wife Jackie.