Bill Maynard, Actor in British Police Drama 'Heartbeat,' Dies at 89

Bill Naynard 2017 - One Time Use Only - Getty - H 2018
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He first appeared on TV in 1953.

Bill Maynard, the British actor best known as playing eccentric poacher Claude Jeremiah Greengrass in the British police series Heartbeat, has died. He was 89.

His daughter-in-law Jacqueline Reddin said he passed away while in hospital in Leicestershire, having recently broken his hip in a fall from a mobility scooter.

Maynard, whose real name was Walter Williams (taking his stage name from a billboard for Maynard's Wine Gums), first appear on British TV in 1953 in Face the Music, and would go on to star in shows such as Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt!, The Gaffer, In Sickness and In Heath and Worzel Gummidge. He also had small roles in several of the films in the famed Carry On series, including Carry On Matron and Carry on Dick. 

In 1957, Maynard also entered the British heats for the Eurovision Song Contest, coming in fourth, 30 years later making his first foray into politics by standing for election in the Yorkshire town of Chesterfield, also placing fourth. 

But his turn as Greengrass in Heartbeat, which aired on ITV between 1992 and 2010 and ran for 18 seasons, is the role for which Maynard will probably most be remembered. The series, set in and around a small Yorkshire village, was among the most popular shows when it first debuted, regularly attracting more than 10 million viewers. Maynard also starred in its spinoff, The Royal, which ran from 2003-2011. 

He is survived by a daughter and a son, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.