British actor and comedian Bill Maynard, a cast member in five Carry On films and best known as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass in the police television series Heartbeat, has died at age 89. He died from complications after suffering a fall from his mobility scooter and being hospitalized.
Maynard was known for his wild off-stage life, sharing similarities with his grizzled Heartbeat television character. At one point, he was known as the highest-paid TV comic in Britain, but did not take good care of his finances. He then retreated to smaller stage roles before returning to glory with several successful television series.
Born Walter Frederick George Williams on October 8, 1928 in the village of Heath End in Surrey, Maynard embarked on his show business career at age 8, performing impressions in Working Men’s Clubs. He later was a band singer and stage actor, adopting his stage name from a wine advertisement. He became a TV star in the 1950s by teaming with comic Terry Scott on the show Great Scott, It’s Maynard. The partnership ended when Maynard left to take on more serious roles.
Unpaid taxes derailed some of his ambitions, forcing him to take small roles in repertory companies and guest shots on TV shows. But he righted the ship by the 1970s, returning to film and TV in several popular roles. He was well-known as a laborer on the Yorkshire TV series Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt! and later unsuccessfully tried to leverage that notoriety into a political career.
He began with the Carry On series with 1970’s Carry On Loving, then had his own show on BBC Radio Leicester until 2008 . He was still working well into his 80s.
Maynard also wrote two autobiographies, The Yo-Yo Man (1975) and Stand Up … and Be Counted (1997).
He is survived by his children, Martin and Jayne. No information on memorial plans was available.