Heartbeat's Alf is selling up to flee the fans

HEARTBEAT star William Simons is leaving the village where it is filmed – because he says he is being pestered by the hit show's fans.

The 67-year-old actor, known to millions as chain-smoking former PC Alf Ventress, has decided to sell his home after living in Beck Hole, near Goathland, for 14 years.

He said: "The public are sweet but the constant attention seriously upsets me."

Goathland, renamed Aidensfield for the 1960s drama, is flooded with thousands of fans every summer who come to catch a glimpse of the set.

Mr Simons said: "When I bought it 14 years ago it was a very quiet place and I had no idea the programme would run so long or that Goathland would become the capital of Heartbeat country.

"My wife was in London then and I was working in North Yorkshire so I suggested relocating here and we found this little cottage.

"I am a very private person, but if I go out and get a newspaper I get stopped," said Mr Simons, who is the only Heartbeat actor with a home in the area.

"I get on well with my neighbours and the locals, who couldn't care less about who I am, but there are so many Heartbeat groupies now that I am becoming very reclusive and I don't want to be."

He has put his house on the market with estate agents Carter Jonas for 300,000 and plans to make his main home in London, where he has a flat.

The 19th century cottage boasts stunning moorland views and has a dining kitchen, sitting room, shower room, two bedrooms and a house bathroom. It also has an annexe with a reception room and shower room.

Mr Simons and his late wife, who died six years ago, completely restored and modernised the property after buying it in 1994.

He bought it for 75,000 but reckons he has spent up to 40,000 on improvements including new windows, sorting out the damp and building an annexe.

Potential buyers will be relieved to hear that the owner, who has been with the series since it started in 1991, is nothing like smoking Alf, and is a committed anti-smoker.

Filming takes place almost all year round, but Mr Simons cut back his schedule, which means that he and his second wife Jackie, who he married last year, will be able to spend more time in London.