Actor Conrad Phillips, who gained fame in the 1950s as the star of The Adventures of William Tell, has revealed his swashbuckling adventures nearly cost him his life.

Mr Phillips, 87, of Montague Close, Chippenham, has just published his autobiography, entitled Aiming True.

The book begins in the late 1930s when he joined the Navy aged 17 in the Second World War and goes on to follow his career as an actor.

He said it was tough to be an actor as a family man because he did not always get a regular pay packet, and he often had to be away from home, but playing William Tell in the black and white television series that ran for 39 episodes was a big thrill.

He said: “It was an adventure every week, I had sword fights, knife fights and fist fights every week and we were always up against time to shoot the film.

“I did the last episode from a wheelchair. During the first shot I came out and jumped and broke my ankle.

“I was sword fighting from a wheelchair and someone else did the long shots.”

However, that wasn’t the only danger the father-of-two faced while filming for the show.

Mr Phillips recalled: “Once I was sitting on a horse being hanged with my hands tied behind my back when the clapper board snapped shut.

“The moment the horse heard the noise, it reared up.

“I just got my hands free to swing onto the scaffolding, otherwise I would have been hanged.”

Mr Phillips, who wrote his autobiography while living in Normandy for 20 years with his wife Jennie, hopes to inspire young actors. He will give a talk to the Chippenham Youth Theatre on April 23.

His nine-year-old granddaughter, Alice Atkinson, is a member of the theatre group.

Mr Phillips said: “I had a very humble background and eventually became the star for a television series which was sold all over the world.

“From humble beginnings you can make anything work.

“I joined the Navy at 17 in the war and went all over the place – my ship was mined and sunk, all before I was 20.”

At the same time as Mr Phillips wrote his book, his wife also penned her autobiography.

Entitled Skeoch, Mrs Phillips’s book tells the story of the couple’s life on a remote 50-acre hill farm in south west Scotland for six years.

Mrs Phillips said: “We knew nothing about farming, being both from London and the theatrical background.

“We didn’t buy it originally to farm, but circumstances forced our hand and we had to learn from scratch how to successfully rear two-week-old calves, make hay, plough and do all the things that farmers do.”

Mr Phillips’s book can be found on Amazon as an e-book and will be published in paperback in the next few weeks. Mrs Phillips’s book is already available in paperback on Amazon.