John Stuart Golland, actor: born Sheffield, South Yorkshire 3 August 1945; married 1981 Frances Smith; died Leeds 11 September 2003.
The Aidensfield Arms in the television series Heartbeat, now lorded over by the former police sergeant Oscar Blaketon, was once the domain of George Ward. For the first six series of the police drama, set in the 1960s, Stuart Golland played Ward, the pub landlord, who was basically honest but not averse to accepting dubiously obtained alcohol and food when offered it by the lovable rogue Claude Greengrass.
The character's fate looked sealed in the initial series (1992) when Dr Kate Rowan diagnosed him with myasthenia gravis, an immune system disease, but he continued at the pub-hotel for another four years - helped by his Liverpudlian niece Gina - before going to live with his sister, Mary, in Sidmouth. George died shortly afterwards.
Heartbeat, which originally starred Nick Berry as PC Nick Rowan, Niamh Cusack as his wife Kate, Derek Fowlds as Sergeant Blaketon and Bill Maynard as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, quickly became television's most popular programme and remains a backbone of the ITV schedules. It made Golland a household face, if not name, after many years as a character actor on stage and screen.
Born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in 1945, Stuart Golland became a plasterer on leaving school, then took a job as a part-time barman in a pub on the Isle of Man in 1968 and eventually became manager. Returning to Sheffield, he became bar manager of the Top Rank Club, opposite the city's Crucible Theatre, which engendered in him an interest in theatre. He studied at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, then acted on stage in fringe and repertory productions, as well as spending a year with the National Theatre company in London.
Before landing the role of George Ward in Heartbeat (1992-96), to which he could bring his real-life experience as a pub landlord, Golland had small parts in All Creatures Great and Small (1979), Emmerdale (1987), The New Statesman (1989), The Darling Buds of May (1992), In Suspicious Circumstances (1992) and Rumpole of the Bailey (1992). In between series, he appeared in the sitcom Stay Lucky (1993).
The actor, who left Heartbeat to return to the theatre, also played the father, Mr Wright (his son played by the future Emmerdale actor Tony Pitts), in the film Looks and Smiles (1981, directed by Ken Loach), Barry Hines's drama about disaffected youths facing unemployment in Thatcher's Britain. His last screen role, in June, was as Ernie Wagstaff, who was seen at Jack Duckworth's allotment in Coronation Street.
By Anthony Hayward