British actor Simon Williams is speaking to The Arts Society Benahavís on Tuesday 31 October. S. Williams
Actor, author and playwright Simon Williams: 'Even with the less savoury characters you have to find their redeeming features'

Actor, author and playwright Simon Williams: 'Even with the less savoury characters you have to find their redeeming features'

The British actor played James Bellamy in the 1970s television drama Upstairs Downstairs and is now the voice of Justin Elliott in The Archers

Jennie Rhodes


Friday, 27 October 2023, 15:32


Fans of British television and radio dramas will be excited to learn that British actor Simon Williams is coming to speak on the Costa del Sol this month. In fact he is giving a talk about his life as an actor and the famous people he has worked with along the way at the Arts Society Benahavís on Tuesday 31 October.

Williams is probably best known for playing James Bellamy in the 1970s British television series Upstairs, Downstairs and is currently the voice of Justin Elliott in the long-running BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers.

In an interview with SUR in English he reveals that he has a long connection with the Costa del Sol as a friend had a house in Sotogrande for many years; his brother, poet Hugo Williams, used to have a house on the Costa del Sol too. Williams says that he loves this part of the world.

However, this will be a very brief stop as he will be staying here for just one night before flying back to the UK. After a break from Justin Elliott, the actor is recording again for the Archers with a storyline coming up later in autumn.

Williams was born in Windsor, Berkshire in 1946. Coming from a family of actors - his father was Hugh Williams and his mother was Margaret Vyner - he says that acting "is in the blood" and that he first fell in love with the theatre when he would visit his father backstage.

"My father was always in a good mood," he says of the happy memories that sparked that love. It was theatre buildings that he first fell in love with and "the magic of the theatre - whether it's empty or full".

Williams is married to actress Lucy Fleming - the niece of James Bond creator Ian Fleming - and his own children have also gone into acting.

Big break

He first appeared on television in 1967 in Man in a Suitcase, and in 1969 he played the lead role in Slim John. However, he got his big break in 1971 when he starred as James Bellamy in Upstairs, Downstairs,

Television fans will also recognise Williams from appearances in series such as Bergerac, Dinnerladies, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Heartbeat, The Bill, Holby City and Dr Who and a long list of etceteras.

However, in a career that spans theatre, television, films and radio, Williams points out that while many actors say their first love is the theatre, he doesn't have a preference.

"I'm a Gemini; I always want to do what I'm not doing. I flibbertigibbet between all of them. When I am doing theatre I think I might like to do some television and when I'm doing television I think I might like to do some radio," he admits.

For anyone who remembers James Bellamy or regularly tunes in to the Archers and is aware of Justin Elliott's reputation as somewhat of a cunning, and not always trustworthy, businessman, the actor points out he has also "played some very nice characters", but that even with the less savoury ones, "you have to fight their corner" and "find their redeeming features".

Williams is also a renowned playwright and novelist. His most recent play opened in August to good reviews and his play, Nobody is Perfect (Nadie es perfecto) went down very well in Spain.

As well as the acting, Williams is often invited to give after-dinner talks on his experiences and has been "on the Arts Society's books" for about a year. When he isn't working, he says his favourite activities are walking (he has a Cockapoo called Gus), sitting in cafes watching the world go by and being with his seven grandchildren.

David Jason

Without wanting to give away any spoilers about his talk, Williams does reveal that having worked alongside some of the biggest names in British television - David Jason, Glenda Jackson and Michael Crawford to name but a few - he will be talking about his experiences and the people he has come across, as well as the "ups and downs of being an actor, those awkward love scenes and keeping your feet on the ground".

There will be some insight into working on The Archers and Williams says that he will be keeping his talk on 60 years in the business "fun and lighthearted".

Simon Williams is speaking at The Arts Society Benahavís (Hugo Investing, Urb. La Carolina, Edf. Aries, Local N, 29602 Marbella) on Tuesday 31 October at 7pm. Doors open at 6pm and there is a complimentary glass of wine on arrival. Guests are welcome and tickets cost 15 euros. Members of other Arts Societies pay 10 euros.

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