East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight today paid tribute to actor Bill Maynard. Maynard, who passed away this week aged 89 was one of Britain’s best known actors and had been close friends with Sir Greg for over 40 years.

Born in 1928, Maynard (real name Walter Williams) started out as a stand up comic before moving into television with the late Terry Scott. Later, he starred in various TV sitcoms including ‘Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt’ and ‘The Gaffer’.

In the nineties he played lovable old rogue Claude Jeremiah Greengrass in the popular and long-running television series Heartbeat and its spin-off series The Royal.

Maynard once dabbled in politics, standing unsuccessfully as an independent against Tony Benn in the 1980’s.

Having originally retired from acting in 2000 due to ill health Maynard made a return to the stage in 2009 when he appeared as the guest of honour at the Pride of Bridlington Awards organised by Sir Greg.

Maynard was widowed when his first wife Muriel died in 1983. In 1989 he married Tonia Bern, widow of land speed record holder Donald Campbell but the marriage did not last.

Sir Greg said, “It is a very sad day for me and my thoughts are with Bill’s family.

“Bill was a great actor and he was, more often than not, bigger than the parts he played. He brought many a colourful character to life on the screen making them believable in a way not many others could.”.

“However, if he thought others were not doing their best,he could be “difficult”.

“I am upset at the loss of a great friend”.