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Annual overview
1900 Born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 9th October, the youngest of four children.  His father is Alexander Sim and his mother is Isabella McIntyre.  His father owns a Tailor shop in Lothian Road (just south of Princes Street in Edinburgh) and the family lives in rooms above.  
1906 Alastair goes to school in Bruntisfield. Moves to Gillespie's School (Alastair cannot remember at what age), where his father is a JP and a governor of the school.  
1914 Alastair leaves school aged 14 and works as a messenger in his father's tailoring shop and later works at Gieves, a men's outfitters, where he sells ties. The following few years are vague.  
1918 Studies to be an analytical chemist at Edinburgh University.  
1918 Joins the Officer's Training Corp. The Armistice arrives just before he is sent to the front.  
1919 When released from the OTC, Alastair lives rough for a year in the Highlands, finding employment with a group of migrants engaged as farm labourers, foresters, ghillies or poachers.  
1920 Eventually returns to Edinburgh and works in the Borough Assessor's Office.  
1921 In his early 20s, Alastair becomes a student at the Edinburgh Provincial Training Centre at Moray House .  
1925 Obtains post of Fulton Lecturer in Elocution at New College, Edinburgh University from 1925 through 1930, teaching budding parsons how to speak.  
1926 Meets his future wife, Naomi Plaskitt when they appear together in an amateur production of The Land Of Hearts Desire by William Butler Yeats.  He is 26 and she is 12.  
1926 School of Drama and Speech Training in Manor Place.  
1929 Naomi enrolls at Alastair's own School of Drama and Speech Training where she also later works as his secretary.  
1929 Alastair hopes to become a professional director but is advised by John Drinkwater (poet, playwright, producer and general manager of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre) that his best chance is to try to become an actor first, and work up to directing in time.  
1930 In September Alastair moves to a flat in Golders Green with Naomi and her mother. Shares rent with Naomi's mother.  
1930 Through his contact with John Drinkwater he gets his first role in OTHELLO and moves to London.  
1930 Professional stage debut on 19th May as the Messenger in Othello (with Paul Robeson and Peggy Ashcroft). Rehearsals start in Spring with Alastair understudying Othello, Iago and Roderigo for £5 a week. Alastair lodges in the house of John Thompson and Jessie Hall in Hampstead Garden (London suburb).  
1930 Performs in a review called Caviare at the Little Theatre (now defunct).  
1931 Plays the Cardinal Ferdinando di Medici in a play called The Venetian by Clifford Bax; a drama about the Medicis. Alastair is one of the principals for the first time. The play was based upon one of the numerous romantic episodes in the history of the Medici. A contemporary review in THEATRE WORLD singles out Alastair as giving "an impressive rendering of the unscrupulous, scheming Cardinal."  
1931 At the end of the run in London, on October 31, Alastair makes his New York debut in this same role at the Masque Theatre. This is his only appearance in America. Although well received on tour the play is not appreciated in New York. Alastair returns home by Christmas and never went back no matter what the financial inducement. There is a sad irony in this in that, in time, America becomes particularly appreciative of his work.  
1932 Plays the Old Vic for a season where Harcourt Williams is directing. Ralph Richardson and Phyllis Thomas are leads. The Old Vic is changing plays every three weeks. Claudius in Hamlet. 2 x cameos in John Drinkwater's play Abraham Lincoln - the old negro (Douglas) is doubled with John Wilkes Booth.  
1932 Marries Naomi (now turned 18) in August at a Registry Office. Honeymoon in Sark for 2 weeks.  
1932 2nd Season at the Old Vic with Malcolm Kean and Peggy Ashcroft as principals.  
1932 At the end of this year Naomi has a pregnancy terminated due to illness.  
1932 Buys house in Garrick Avenue - a quiet street off Golders Green Road - for �800. Plays in small theatre on the outskirts of London.  
1933 Towards the end of this year Alastair plays a comic Scotsman in the play called The Man Who Was Fed Up (by Frederick Witney) at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage.  
1934 In January of this year The Man Who Was Fed Up transfers to the Vaudeville Theatre in the Strand.  
1934 In the autumn Alastair plays the part of a pompous bank manager in the play Youth At The Helm at the Westminster Theatre.  
1934 In February Youth At The Helm Transfers to the Globe Theatre in the West End. A number of offers start to come in from film companies.  
1934 Alastair is suddenly very ill with Sciatic trouble incurred scrambling around with children on Hampstead Heath and has to leave the play. It is only after many months of worry and pain that an Osteopath eventually cures the problem and Alastair is able to resume work and able to take up the offers from film companies.  
1935 Alastair plays a Scottish Police Sergeant in his first film - The Riverside Murder. This is one of a number of Fox Quickies. Fox British being a small British film company.  
1936 Plays the Minister Angus Graham in the film The Wedding Group. Naomi is given a small part as the maid.  
1936 Over the next few years Alastair acts in a great many films. Alastair signs a three year film contract with Julius Hagen of Twickenham Studios.  
1936 In the winter of this year Alastair and Naomi go on a skiing holiday in Arosa on the strength of this contract. Whilst on holiday Alastair finds out that Julius Hagen has gone bust. After this, Alastair never signs a contract for more than one film at a time.  
1936 Buys house on Wildwood Road on other side of Hampstead Heath. Extension for three years.  
1936 Becomes a member of the Greenwood Club. Also, for leisure, friends visit his house to play Bridge.  
1937 Early in this year Alastair is back in the theatre. Alastair plays the crime reporter Collie in a revival of Edgar Wallace's thriller The Squeaker at the Prince's Theatre. The play receives rapturous reviews.  
1937 In August of the same year and in the same theatre in Ian Hay's adventure play The Gusher. The play concerns itself with an oil strike and Alastair plays another comic Scotsman.  
1937 More films now. Alastair is with Jessie Matthews in Gangway. Made in Pinewood Studios near Iver, Buckinghamshire. Alastair makes films for two years now - most of them unmemorable. Plays Collie in the film of The Squeaker. He plays the Genie in Alf's Button Afloat with the The Crazy Gang. Also plays the news editor in This Man Is News and the sequel This Man In Paris. Also plays the Sergeant in the three Inspector Hornleigh films opposite Gordon Harker's Inspector.  
1939 Early in the year Alastair ends a long spell of filming because he is asked to go to the Malvern Festival to play in What Say They? by James Bridie. The meeting with Bridie is brief but influential and is the start of a long, close friendship.  
1939 In November Alastair tours in a silly comedy starring Leslie Banks and Margaret Rawlings. Alastair plays the part of the perfect butler.  
1939 Also during the War, Alastair tours with ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) which performs one play at a time and plays for only one night at each service camp.  
1940 Naomi admitted to Samaritan Hospice in Marylebone Hospital.  
1940 During WWII, Alastair and Naomi relocate to Egypt Cottage in the country. They intend to stay"just for the summer" away from the air raids but end up living there for seven years. Alastair still has a small flat in London from which he can work.  
1940 Alastair takes a part in Cottage To Let, the first spy thriller of the war, at Wyndham's Theatre, with George Cole and Leslie Banks.  
1940 The Sim's take in children who are sent away from London because of fear of the bombs dropping during the blitz. Among these is George Cole, who arrives aged 15 and stays until he is 27, practically becoming their foster son.  
1940 In August of this year Alastair and Naomi have a child of their own - a daughter named Merlith who is born in a London nursing home. The Sim's house in Wildwood Road is totally destroyed by a bomb.  
1941 Towards the end of the year Alastair directs (his original career choice) for the first time in James Bridie's Holy Isle for a limited season at the Arts Theatre. At Christmas he plays Captain Hook for the first time (doubling it with Mr. Darling).  
1942 Towards the end of the year Bridie sends Alastair a new play - A Chink In The Blackout - which is to become Mr. Bolfry. This is the first of the Bridie plays in which Alastair is to act as well as direct. Alastair plays the part of the Minister, Mr. McCrimmon, though in a later revival he is to play the Devil.  
1944 It Depends What You Mean (Later filmed as Folly To Be Wise) opens in London in November after a short tour starting in Glasgow.  
1945 The Forrigan Reel by James Bridie opens at Sadlers Wells in October.  
1946 Green For Danger  
1947 In June the Sim's move to a new cottage they had built for them located at Newnham Hill, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. They name it "Forrigan" after the James Bridie play.  
1947 Alastair rehearses Dr. Angelus, a new play by James Bridie. George Cole plays the part of Doctor Johnson.  
1947 After a short tour Dr. Angelus opens at the Phoenix Theatre for a six month run.  
1948 In autumn Alastair is elected Rector of Edinburgh University, beating out Harold MacMillan by 2078 votes to 802.  
1949 In April he is installed as Rector through to 1951. His Rectorial Address is on "The Qualified Fool".  
1950 Performs the eponymous Mr Gillie at the Garrick Theatre; another play by James Bridie and Alastair's favorite.  
1951 James Bridie dies.  
1951 Awarded honorary LLD at the conclusion of his term as Rector.  
1951 Alastair begins a search for new playwrights to replace Bridie. He discovers: Michael Gilbert (A Clean Kill, The Bargain, Windfall); William Golding (The Brass Butterfly); and William Trevor (The Elephant's Foot).  
1951 Alastair is to appear in many films during the 1950's including: The Happiest Days Of Your Life; Scrooge; An Inspector Calls; The Belle's of St. Trinian's; The Green Man; and two small scenes in Blue Murder at St. Trinian's.  
1951 Joins the Garrick Club. Alastair's portrait is painted by Edward Seago and hangs in the Garrick.  
1951 Merlith, aged 19, is employed as Alastair's ASM in Michael Gilbert's A Clean Kill at the Criterion Theatre.  
1953 Alastair is awarded the CBE.  
1960 Alastair directs and plays in The Bargain.  
1966 Plays Lord Ogleby in David Garrick's play The Clandestine Marriage at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Alastair is aged 65 now.  
1969 Plays Mr. Posket in Pinero's play The Magistrate at the Chichester Festival Theatre. The Magistrate comes to London and has a long run at the Cambridge Theatre.  
1973 Plays Augustine Jedd in Pinero's play Dandy Dick at the Chichester Festival Theatre. The play also has a good run in London after Chichester.  
197? Declines a knighthood.  
1976 Alastair discovers an ulcer on his tongue which is later diagnosed as cancer.  
1976 Alastair dies of cancer at University College Hospital, London on 19th August. He leaves his body for anatomical research.