You've retired from showbusiness now. How do you view the industry as it is today, now that you're back to being a member of the audience?

"As I'm not in the industry today, I'm not really in a position to make comments, but what my wife Jaki and I are really impressed about at the moment is the standard of acting on British television. I think it's got to be the highest standard in the world. Even small parts in things are so beautifully done that I just sit back with admiration. Total admiration because they're all so bloody good. And I'm delighted to see that."

Do you find it disappointing that so much television is lost or missing today from the era when you were most prolific in the medium?

"I think it's a shame but there are bigger things in life than losing bits of television series. You have to question the mentality, of course, of whoever it was who said they needed the space, or that that programmes didn't need to be kept. So many great programmes were just wiped. Heads needed looking at, really. Not for my stuff in particular, of course, but for the business as a whole. So many people like to watch old movies, after all. I think it's a great shame. It's almost like saying that this Rolling Stones record has been out for a while, so let's get rid of it and we'll stick out something new instead. It's the same sort of principle really – people didn't just wipe famous music recordings. So… why? That's not a personal thing, it's just a general view of how the business operated in those days."

Looking back on your career, what would you pick out as the highlights, the roles that meant the most to you?

"Obviously, I liked Doomwatch for what it did, and I enjoyed working on The Spies and The Mask of Janus. Many other things, too. But my favourite was definitely the stage show, Privates on Parade. That was beautiful. I played Captain Terri Dennis and I absolutely, totally, totally loved it. I would say that if I wanted to be remembered for anything, that'd be it. Yeah. That was me."

"But I've been so, so lucky. I've not had any disasters. I don't accept The Avengers as a personal disaster because as I say, it could have been avoided. I was stuck in the middle of it, but you can only do your best and try to pull it out of the mire. Had we have had more time, it wouldn't have gone into the mire in the first place, but there you go. It was like being the Captain of the Titanic. You can arrange the deck chairs as best you can, but it doesn't make much difference when you're sinking."

"No, I've had a life to die for. I've had ups and downs personally, just like anyone, but I couldn't have asked for a more satisfying life than the one I've had in theatre, television and film. I've been so lucky and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity."

At the time of this interview in November 2008, Simon was undergoing treatment for a long-term serious illness. Sadly, Simon succumbed to cancer a mere six months later, on Wednesday 20th May 2009. Alys and I were devastated to hear the news – Simon was a delightful, witty and above all, generous and kind man, and the world is worse off by far without him. Our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Jaki and their family and many friends. The day we spent with them both was a highlight of our year and we will remember that day and Simon and Jaki with great fondness and admiration for many years to come.

Click Here To Read A Tribute to Simon Oates (1932-2009)

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© Alan and Alys Hayes, 2009

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Interview: Simon Oates
1. Early Days
2. On The Telly
3. Doomwatch
4. The Avengers
5. The Cockney Comic
6. Looking Back