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C H A R A C T E R

Alf Ventress

AlfPromo
William Simons as Alf Ventress

Episodes

355

First Episode

Changing Places

Last Episode

Sweet Sorrow

Family

Gail Ventress (daughter, never seen)

Relationships

Mrs Ventress (wife, never seen)

PC Alfred "Alf" Ventress (now retired), played by William Simons who appeared in 355 episodes from 1992 - 2010.

BiographyEdit

Phlegmatic, long-serving policeman who had never risen beyond the rank of constable. Famed for his encyclopedic local knowledge, smoking Woodbines, his occasional lapses (sleeping on the job) and eccentricities (penchant for hard-boiled eggs). Alf could be seen smoking a cigarette, often to the disgust of his fellow officers. Alf often shoves his cigarette in places to hide it from senior officers, which causes a fire (either to his hair or to his desk) or is placed in a cup of tea, which results in Alf spitting it out. The actor in real life however has never smoked, and is an active campaigner against. Portrayed as lacking ambition, motivation and fitness, his insights nevertheless often proved invaluable to the station's crime-solving efforts. In his younger years Ventress had a gambling problem that occasionally compromised his position as a police officer. He is now retired from active police duty, but remains working in a civilian capacity at Ashfordly Police Station. His wife, "Mrs Ventress", is regularly referred to by name but has never appeared in person. However, the episode "Windows of Opportunity" included a number of shots of a ladies' keep fit group which Mrs Ventress was said to have attended, so she may have appeared on screen, albeit unidentified. He has at least one child – a daughter, Gail, who was mentioned as living in Cardiff in episode 6.8. He first appeared in the episode "Changing Places", alongside PC Phil Bellamy where Nick Rowan first came down from London with his wife Kate. In the episode "The Frighteners", it was he who found the kitten that was eventually to be called Heathcliff and become Sgt Blaketon's cat. He revealed that Mrs Ventress was allergic to them. In the episode "Charity Begins at Home", he ended up dressing up as one of two Father Christmasses, having turned up at the last minute for the school navity when Claude also came along. He too was dressed up as Father Christmas so there was a bit of a confusion. He also ended up stuck in the snow along with PC Phil Bellamy and ended up telling Phil his whole life story to pass the time. In the episode "Little Angel", he watched over Oscar at his bedside when he had another heart attack. His final appearance was in "Sweet Sorrow" where he stayed beside Oscar's bedside when the latter ended up being impaled onto a pitchfork. It was uncertain whether Oscar was going to wake up. Alf said that Oscar was stubborn and wouldn't go until he was ready. Oscar and Alf had planned to go and revisit all the places they had been to during the war - instead they were camping in stormy weather. Alf was one of the characters from Heartbeat to make an appearance in spin-off The Royal  several times.

From Nicholas Rhea's website

Bill Simons plays the role of PC Alf Ventress, and describes the character as "a rather lazy, easy-going, phlegmatic, likeable copper who's tried three times to make Sergeant and now looks forward to retirement and an easy life."

Ventress is mostly seen sitting at his desk at the police station eating from his lunch box or smoking secretively, or in his police car - not an action hero by any stretch of the imagination.

"I remember the 1960s with affection. It was much more easy going in those days and I'm sure country coppers in that decade had a nice easy life compared with today," says Bill.

"We are all much more relaxed with our characters now. We didn't really know what we were doing at the beginning but we've developed at the same time as the characters we are playing. Ventress is unintentionally funnier now than he used to be - and much lighter. We don't have to deal with too much violent crime in Aidensfield. The most I do is to hang onto someone's collar and I had a few problems with some villains and then a pig!"

"Being involved in a long-running series hasn't prevented me from accepting other work. I was very lucky in the first two years of Heartbeat to be able to do another series for the BBC, at the same time, playing another policeman. It was fortunate that I was able to do both, with careful juggling of my working days. It's not so easy now but I would prefer to be in this than in anything else."

"I have played policemen many times in my career, from constables on the beat to Chief Inspectors and Superintendent. I think I'll be buried in blue. None of them have been as laid-back as Ventress. Playing a policeman hasn't really changed the way I look on modern coppers, except they all look years younger. I am still very aware of the power they have. Just before Heartbeat went out, a PC was prepared to arrest me because she recognised me and presumed she knew my face from the 'wanted' file. It was only after her colleague pointed out that I was an actor that she realised she had seen me on television."

"I can't see why Heartbeat should not continue with further series over the years although I have no idea how the storyline concerning Ventress will develop. As long as the stories are right for the character, I'm quite happy to leave this in the hands of the writers."

Rhea comments on Alf Ventress:

"PC Alf Ventress, the old, easy-going constable whose local knowledge is vital to the running of Ashfordly Police Station, appears in my books. In the tales, he was involved in some hilarious yarns, one of which involved flattening a trumpet in a mangle and another of which showed him getting his revenge on some dirty tricksters - and, in the books, he does like Mrs Ventress's hard-boiled eggs! William Simons has created a totally believable character, just as I imagined him."

GalleryEdit

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