Bill Maynard plays Claude Jeremiah Greengrass
Bill Maynard, one of Britain's best loved comedy actors, was a founder member of the cast of Heartbeat. His rôle as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass enabled him to win the title of Yorkshire Arts and Entertainment Personality of the Year in the 2003 Yorkshire Awards. As the citation explained:
Famous for his role as Greengrass in Heartbeat and The Royal, Bill Maynard is a living legend and much loved by the nation's TV viewers. Currently celebrating his 50th year on British television, Bill has been a comedian, a dramatic actor and a film actor. He's been in musicals and even opera. Although he doesn't hail from Yorkshire, his work over the years at Yorkshire Television certainly qualifies him for the title honorary Yorkshireman!
He left Heartbeat after suffering a stroke; but after making a recovery, bounced back the help launch the related medical drama series The Royal, still playing Yorkshire's craftiest rogue!
"I'd been out of work for eighteen months and had started to think that I'd never work again," he says. "It was wonderful to be offered the chance to return. I'm still slightly impaired, but everyone has looked after me so well. I didn't move around much when I was in Heartbeat. Greengrass was often found sitting on a bar stool, in his cottage or in his truck, so it's not that much different, I just get to relax in bed all day."
Being confined to the hospital certainly didn't prevent him from getting up to mischief.
"He's still the same old rogue that he ever was. He never lets the chance to make a few quid pass him by. The opportunities may be a little more limited in a hospital, but he's still able to get up to his old tricks."
Working on The Royal also reunited him with the man who gave him his first theatrical break.
"Ian Carmichael auditioned me for my first professional job in the theatre in 1949," recalls Bill. "It was a review company and he was the director. It was nice to catch up with him after all these years."
Bill is thrilled that the viewing public are happy to see him back on their screens.
"I've received lots of letters since it was announced that Greengrass would be returning. People have been absolutely fantastic and they can't wait to see what scrapes he is going to get himself into."
Bill, who celebrated his fiftieth anniversary on British television in 2003, relished the chance to return to work.
"Acting is a wonderful way of earning a living. I've enjoyed every moment of my career and I certainly don't have any plans to give up work. I'll continue as long as I can stand, sit or talk. I can see myself pegging it just after someone has shouted action."
As for his character, not much had changed since he was seen leaving Heartbeat to jet off to the Caribbean to help his sister spend the money she had scooped on the West Indies Sweepstake.
"He certainly isn't a model patient. He has a sort of love / hate relationship with the staff, especially Sister Brigid. She knows he's malingering, but she is powerless to do anything until she can prove it. Saying that, she rules her ward with a rod of iron and Greengrass certainly has to watch his step to make sure that he doesn't get on the wrong side of her."
Aiding him in his money-making schemes are the hospital's Head Porter Ken Hopkirk and Theatre Technician Alun Morris: "Ken and Alun are wise to the kind of person that Greengrass is. Although they are wary of him, they are still prepared to help him out with his scams. He tries to pull the wool over their eyes now and again, and there are a few fall outs, but they are more than able to get their own back on him."
Bill Maynard died on 30th May 2018: read his obituary in The Guardian.
Bill is one of Britain's best loved TV comedy actors. He has been an entertainer since starting as a child performer in the Midlands before moving on to become a band singer and eventually headlining his own variety act. His most recent stage credits include the title role in the hit national tour of Hobson's Choice, Daddy Warbucks in Annie, the West End comedy Strippers and Orminroyd in the 1986 West End revival of J.B. Priestley's When We Are Married. His many hit television series include four successful series of Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggit, The Gaffer, The Life of Riley, the award winning Kisses at Fifty and a one-off special for Yorkshire Television Bill Maynard in Person. His memorable guest appearances in other hit series include Worzel Gummidge, Minder, Tales of the Unexpected and Till Death Us Do Part.