In demand panto star!
From 1980 - 1988 this man endured an array of ridiculous costumes and being thrown into an 'Olympic sized' swimming pool as in the guise of camp comic Spike Dixon in the cult BBC comedy series Hi De Hi but off screen Jeffrey Holland became one of the most in demand pantomime dames who worked steadily from his very first panto in 1968.
If anyone has earnt their place in the Hall of Fame it's this dedicated performer.
“I’ve only had one Christmas off,
But I’ve never been so bored in my life!” - Jeffrey Holland
Jeffrey Holland was born in Walsall, in the heart of England’s Midlands and was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School with no real aspirations to act until he reached his late teens. After joining a local drama group for something to do Jeff quickly fell victim to the acting bug and as a result, he subsequently joined The Minster Players Amateur Dramatic Society where, at the age of nineteen, Jeff decided it was to be an actor’s life for him. He went on to formally train at The Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. Four and a half years of repertory work followed at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry during which time Jeff gained a vast amount of experience in all forms of performing genre from Shakespeare and drama to comedy, musicals and pantomime. Next came seasons at the Chichester Festival in which he played the Pastrycook and Gascony Cadet in Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and the Edinburgh Festival where he portrayed the two Shakespearean roles of Snug the Joyner in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stephano in The Tempest before his first encounter with London’s West End and an introduction to the now legendary comedy writers David Croft and Jimmy Perry. In the autumn of 1975, Jeff joined the cast of the musical stage version of Croft and Perry’s hit sitcom Dad’s Army in which he took over the role of Cockney spiv Private Walker. Although at the time this did not appear to be Jeff’s big break, it did prove a major catalyst for his being cast in future Croft and Perry roles which ultimately did lead to stardom.
Another vital turning point in Jeff’s career came during the big freeze of 1980 while Jeff was appearing in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham. Leading the all star cast was the much loved comedian Frankie Howerd who slipped and fell on some ice breaking his hip while on the way to the theatre to perform. As a result, Jeff found himself taking over Frankie’s role of Billy Crusoe at the eleventh hour to much critical acclaim making Frankie’s misfortune, quite literally ‘the break’ Jeff had been waiting for. Further leading theatre roles followed including West End productions and pantomime in which Jeff is now heralded as one of the UK’s top five leading Dames.
Aside from his TV and panto roles Jeffrey is no stranger to the world of Theatre having appeared in London stage versions of Dad's Army, Hi De Hi and Run For Your Wife aswell as appearing in many touring productions including The Ghost Train, ...and this is my friend Mr Laurel, It's Never Too Late, Allo Allo and By Jeeves to name just a few.
Jeffrey's television credits have included parts in Crossroads, Dad's Army, Dixon of Dock Green, Secret Army, Are you Being Served? and Coronation Street. But he is best known for playing the part of Spike Dixon, the camp (as in holiday camp!) comic at Maplins Holiday Camp in the cult hit BBC TV series Hi De Hi - a part he played for 9 years and 58 episodes. in which he appeared alongside Su Pollard, Ruth Madoc and Paul Shane to name just a few.
After Hi De Hi several key cast members reunited for another series 'You Rang M'lord' again on the BBC for 4 series and this time Jeffrey played the pompous Footman James Twelvetrees.
In 1995 it was time for the old gang to reunite once more, joining Jeffrey in another BBC comedy series called 'Oh! Doctor Beeching' were Hi De Hi favorites Paul Shane and Su Pollard. This time Jeffrey was the perfectionist Stationmaster Cecil R Parkin. The show ran for 2 seasons and a total of 19 episodes.
1968 - Genie of the Ring in Aladdin in Coventry
1969 - In Pinocchio at the Belgrade Theater in Coventry
1970 - Idle Jack in Dick Whittington at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry
1971 - Simple Simon in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry
1972 - Billy Goose in Mother Goose at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry
1973 - Muddles in Babes in the Wood at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry
1974 - Mr King in Mother Goose at the Richmond Theatre in London
1976 - Carpenter/Policeman in Pinocchio at the Theatre Royal in Brighton
1977 - Genie of the Lamp in Aladdin at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham
1979 - Bily Crusoe in Robinson Crusoe at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham
1980 - King Rat in Dick Whittington at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham
1981 - Spike the Stupid in Babes in the Wood at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham
1982 - Captain's Mate in Dick Whittington at the Bristol Hippodrome
1984 - Good Robber in Babes in the Wood at the Concert Hall Lewisham
1986 - Wishee Washee in Aladdin at the Bournemouth Pavilion
1987 - Wishee Washee in Aladdin at the Richmond Theatre in London
1988 - Wishee Washee in Aladdin at the Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon
1989 - Dame in Sleeping Beauty at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth
1990 - Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Theatre Royal Bath
1991 - Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the New Theatre Cardiff
1992 - Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Lyceum Sheffield
1993 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome
1994 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Mayflower Theatre in Southmapton
1995 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the New Theatre in Woking
1996 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittingotn at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
1997 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Wimbledon Theatre
1998 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal Nottingham
1999 - Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Wolverhampton Grand
2000 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal Newcastle
2001 - Dame Tortt in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal Newcastle
2002 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Milton Keynes Theatre
2003 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittingotn at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
2004 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Opera House Manchester
2005 - Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Queen's Theatre Barnstable
2006 - Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington at the Hall for Cornwall
2007 - Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Assembly Rooms in Derby
2008 - Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Palace Theatre Newark
2009 - Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Palace Theatre Redditch
2010 - Felicity Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome
2011 - Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Royal & Derngate Northampton
2012 - Dame Trott in Jack & the Beanstalk - Mayflower Theatre in Southampton
2013 - Nurse Tilly Tuck in Robin Hood at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth
2014 - Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
2016 - Nurse in Robin Hood at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton
2019 - Dick Whittington at the Wolverhampton Grand