|Anderida Writers are honoured to have well known actor Jeffrey Holland as the club’s Patron. Each year, he and his wife Judy Buxton come to Eastbourne to read out the entries at the club’s annual writing competition. This social evening attracts a large audience, who judge the stories, articles and poems, enhanced and entertaining by the professional spin that he and Judy deliver.
Jeffrey has made many TV appearances; his first speaking role was in ‘Dixon of Dock Green,’ then there was ‘Dad’s Army’; he played a footman in ‘You Rang, M’Lord?’ Cecil the stationmaster in ‘Oh, Dr. Beeching’ and appeared as a tax inspector living with his mum in ‘Coronation Street.’ But he is probably best remembered for his part as the lovable Spike in the iconic comedy series, ‘Hi-de-Hi’ which was all about life at Maplins, a fictional holiday camp.
He said, “It was this part that put me on the map, and I’m very proud of being involved in such a wonderful series. It was all filmed in a real holiday camp after the holiday season had finished. They had me wearing some amazing costumes. Often the weather was cold and we had to pretend it was hot and sunny. I loved doing ‘You Rang, M’Lord?’ which ran from 1988-1993. This was about the life of an aristocrat, Lord Meldrum and his servants.”
But Jeffrey’s first love is live theatre where he has appeared in many productions, such as ‘By Jeeves,’ ‘It’s Never too Late,’ ‘Spring and Port Wine’ and ‘Travels with my Aunt.’ In 2008 made the bold decision to play Renee, the lecherous, but hapless, café owner, in the stage adaption of ‘Allo, Allo,’ where, in occupied France, the women want his body, the Resistance want his brain and the Nazis want his sausage, which is the hiding place of the valuable picture, ‘The Madonna with the Big Boobies.’
He has played pantomime dames for many years. Jeffrey continued, “I love it, absolutely, it is such a unique art form, it’s fun for all the family. I don’t go down the glamour female impersonator route, I am a bloke in a frock, a caricature.”
In 2013 he brought to the stage a personal and heartfelt tribute to Stan Laurel, one half of the celebrated comedy double act of Laurel and Hardy. Along with playwright Gail Louw, Jeffrey took two years to write this stage production called ‘…and this is my friend Mr. Laurel,’ which opened on the 21st August 2013 at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, in Highgate, London.
Jeffrey said, “It wasn’t a difficult process for me to capture the essence of the man because I have felt as if I have known him personally all my life. I first saw Laurel and Hardy at the Saturday morning picture shows when I was a small boy, and they became my friends. I hope to take the show all over the country, and perhaps all over the world, to Laurel and Hardy fans everywhere.”
“I would love to have a crack at playing Malvolo in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’; he’s an iconic classic idiot, a complete fool. That would be a great part to play - whether anyone ever asks me remains to be seen!”
At 67 Jeffrey insists, “The thought of retirement appals me. As long as people want me, I’ll be there. I say it is better than working!”
- Elizabeth Wright – April 2014.