Where are Heartbeat cast now – tragic deaths, Eurovision and biting pensioners

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It’s been 11 years since Heartbeat last appeared on our TV screens following an incredible 18-year run.

The police drama series first aired on ITV back on April 10, 1992, with its final episode taking place on September 12, 2010 and consistently drew in over 10million viewers.

Heartbeat even inspired its very own spin-off show The Royal, a medical drama aired between 2003 and 2011, set in the hospital that was used to treat Heartbeat casualties.

After 18 series, a special episode and three documentaries, Heartbeat finally drew to a close in 2010.

The hit show even took to the stage back in 2016, but didn't live up to its predecessor and drew negative reviews from critics.

But what are the cast up to now?

PC Alf Ventress – William Simons

Swansea-born actor William Simons remained in Heartbeat for its entire run, starring as PC Alf Ventress since the show’s inception.

The long serving policeman had never managed to rise beyond the rank of constable in all his years of dedication – perhaps because of his penchant for sleeping on the job or setting fire to his desk.

Actor William Simons began acting as a child, appearing in films like No Place for Jennifer and West of Zanzibar. A long time acne sufferer, he was also a patron for the Changing Faces charity, which supports people with facial deformities.

Along with his legendary Heartbeat stint, William also appeared in programmes like Casualty, Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

Tragically, Bill passed away in 2019 at the age of 79.

Heartbeat co-star Jason Durr, who played Mike Bradley in the iconic show, shared his condolences, posting on Twitter at the time: "So sad to hear the passing of William Simons. A great actor and a lovely man. RIP Bill."

Sgt Oscar Blaketon – Derek Fowlds

Oscar Blaketon originally appeared as a character in the novels Heartbeat was based on, and Derek Fowlds stepped into the sergeant’s shoes for an impressive 342 episodes.

Known for his crotchety attitude and general bad temper, Oscar was forced to retire from the police force after a nearly fatal heart attack and instead became the proprietor of the Aidensfield Post Office.

He even tried his hand at pub ownership later on in the show.

In real life, actor Derek Fowlds had a long and lustrous acting career, appearing in everything from Yes Minister to Inspector Morse.

His last project was a minor role in 2012’s Run for Your Wife.

Derek unfortunately died in January 2020, aged 82, from heart failure complications combined with sepsis, which had come after he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Children’s TV puppet Basil Brush was among the mourners and even recited a poem in tribute to Derek’s appearances as Mr Derek on the Basil Brush TV Show.

Gina Ward – Tricia Penrose

Appearing in more than 300 episodes between 1993 and 2010, Tricia Penrose was Heartbeat’s longest serving female cast member.

She also appeared in the show’s medical spin-off.

The landlady at the Aidensfield Arms, Gina’s life was full of drama – from complicated romances to dealing with the death of her fiancé Phil.

Tricia made her TV debut in Brookside as WPC Emma Reid, and she went on to appear in Emmerdale and Coronation Street in the early 90s.

Known for her singing appearances on Heartbeat, Tricia also had a real life singing career, releasing two singles – Where Did Our Love Go? and Don’t Wanna Be Alone.

In 2002, Tricia even reached the final of Eurovision selection contest A Song for Europe.

Her last TV appearance as an actress was in 2012’s Crime Stories as Shirley Carroll, but she’s since starred on shows including Celebrity Big Brother in 2013, where she reached the final, and Pointless Celebrities in 2018.

Tricia has two sons and as of 2020 was a presenter on Radio Wirral.

PC Phil Bellamy – Mark Jordon

Goofy PC Phil was known for his on-again-off-again romance with Gina – but his Heartbeat life wasn’t without tragedy.

He and Gina lost their baby before they could marry, and after a confrontation with a man wielding a shotgun, was shot dead in series 17.

Mark Jordon’s life hasn’t been without its ups and downs, either.

A regular on Emmerdale as Dan’s brother Daz Spencer until his exit in 2019, Mark was arrested on suspicion of assault in 2018.

He was charged later that year with grievous bodily harm and assault after biting a pensioner who called his teen daughter a ‘slag’ in a pub beer garden.

Mark pleaded not guilty in court and was granted unconditional bail.

The actor was later found not guilty of the charges at trial, as he had acted in self-defence.

He and his co-star girlfriend Laura Norton, who played Kerry Wyatt in Emmerdale, welcomed a baby boy to their family in February 2021. They named him Jesse.

David Stockwell – David Lonsdale

Appearing in 259 episodes of Heartbeat, David Stockwell was a classic comedy character with a heart of gold.

His gullible nature led to him becoming a dogsbody for many characters around Aidensfield, and was made godfather to Gina’s baby.

But Heartbeat isn’t actor David Lonsdale’s only claim to fame.

He played Coronation Street regular Peter Barlow in 1986, before being replaced by current actor Chris Gascoyne.

David has had a wealth of other projects, including appearances in Casualty, Emmerdale and the Downton Abbey film.

His even tried his hand at pantomime, appearing in a Rochdale production of Dick Whittington in 2018 and 2019.

His latest acting project was playing Gary in The Bay this year.

Bernie Scripps – Peter Benson

Another of Heartbeat’s tragic losses was actor Peter Benson, who passed away in 2018.

Appearing in 234 episodes of the ITV police drama, Bernie Scripps was known for being drawn into madcap schemes by Claude and his half-brother Vernon.

The jack-of-all-trades did everything from car repairs to funeral directing during his time in the show, and eventually was able to meet with his long lost daughter Ruth.

Peter himself appeared in programmes like The Bill, Jeeves and Wooster and Tenko.

His last acting job was appearing as Trevor Lambert in Casualty back in 2013.

Peter died aged 75 in September 2018, following a short illness. He was surrounded by family and friends.

His Heartbeat co-star Steven Blakeley, who played PC Geoff Younger, paid tribute to the great actor in a sweet post, writing: "Farewell Peter Benson.

"You made me laugh so much. There’ll never be another like you – talented, kind and gentle in equal measure. Bless you and rest well sir."

Claude Jeremiah Greengrass – Bill Maynard

Perhaps best known for his appearance in the Carry On films, Bill Maynard appeared in 155 episodes of Heartbeat until 2000.

His character Claude was always a loveable rogue in the show – and always up to a scheme or two. He even had Inland Revenue knocking at his door after refusing to pay Income Tax for 12 years.

Bill originally retired from acting in 2000 after a series of strokes, but made a comeback to public life as a radio presenter for BBC Radio Leicester in 2003.

But his life wasn’t always dedicated to acting. In 1984 Bill stood as an Independent Labour candidate, in order to oust Tony Benn from his seat – but placed fourth in the official rankings.

Bill tragically died in March 2018, after falling and breaking his hip.

His last ever TV appearance came when he joined former co-star Tricia Penrose on Pointless Celebrities in 2018, a month after his death.

PC Mike Bradley – Jason Durr

The village’s longest serving copper, Mike was seen as a sort of action hero – often grappling with baddies and dragging survivors from the wreckage of disasters.

He was killed off in 2003 but didn’t leave the police profession entirely – actor Jason Durr went on to appear in Inspector Lewis as DI Peterson.

Jason has also appeared in shows like Midsomer Murders, New Tricks and Holby City.

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He is currently a series regular on Casualty, appearing as David Hide.

The actor took part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial earlier this year after his mum died of the virus in 2020.

"I’m touched by it so therefore I want to do whatever I can in a small way to help," he told Bristol Live in January.

  • ITV

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