He had had no acting experience whatsoever when Mervyn Watson and casting director James Bain from Granada Television called at his school (The Kingsway School in Cheadle) to find suitable candidates to play the McDonald twins. Nicholas Cochrane was in the same school but in the year above and he was selected for further auditions as he had some limited acting experience and had been an extra in a Granada programme. The fourteen-year old Simon was then chosen as he was a similar build to Nicholas.
The actors who had already been cast as their on-screen parents, Charles Lawson and Beverley Callard, were asked to sit in on the final auditions of some thirty boys, an experience Beverley found nerve-wracking, and all the people there separately concluded that Simon and Nicholas were the right choice for the parts.
He sat his GCSE's in 1991 after working with a tutor in the studios but his good fortune took a turn for the worse in the mid-1990s when he became addicted to cocaine. Granada suspended him for eighteen months while in the storyline his character was jailed. Simon overcame his addiction and returned to the programme, steadily becoming one its most popular characters.
His interests include water skiing, speedboats and cars (of which he owns several) and in August 2007 he became a father for the first time when his girlfriend, Emma Gleave, gave birth to a son, Alfie. The couple have since had a second child, Harry, born in July 2009.
In May 2015 one of Simon's pet dogs Cookie co-starred alongside him in Coronation Street as Rover. Later that year he took a break from the show due to depression, being absent from November 2015 to April 2016. During this period Simon and his wife welcomed a third son in December 2015.