Peter Benson, actor

Peter Benson
Peter Benson
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The actor Peter Benson, who has died at 75, was an essential component of one of Yorkshire’s most enduring TV dramas.

As the funeral director Bernie Scripps in Heartbeat, filmed largely on location in the North York Moors, he appeared in all 18 seasons, from 1992 to 2010.

His character also ran a garage in the fictional town of Aidensfield – in reality, the village of Goathland – and was a comic foil for both the local rogue Claude Greengrass (played by Bill Maynard) and his own half-brother, Vernon, portrayed by the former Coronation Street actor, Geoffrey Hughes.

He also appeared in the BBC comedy Blackadder as Henry VII, in Granada’s 1980s soap opera Albion Market, and more recently in two episodes of the hospital drama, Casualty.

Heartbeat rekindled a long association with the late Bill Maynard. The two had appeared on stage together in a production of Trinity Tales in 1977. Benson, a highly-skilled singer and dancer and an accomplished theatre actor, also played the title role in Henry VI in a 1983 BBC adaption.

Born in Wallasey on the Wirral, he was the son of a schoolmaster who served as a special constable during the Second World War.

A specialist in playing weak or vacillating characters, he was seldom out of work. On TV, his credits included the Dauphin in Shaw’s Saint Joan, and Richard III for the BBC Shakespeare Series.

He was also to be seen in another nostalgic North Riding drama series, All Creatures Great and Small, and in A Touch of Frost.