Bernard Holley 1940-2021Bookmark and Share

Monday, 22 November 2021 - Reported by Toby Hadoke
Bernard Holley. Photo: Chuck Foster

The actor Bernard Holley has died at the age of 81.

Bernard Holley became a household name during his 277 episode stint as PC Newcombe in the groundbreaking and popular police series Z-Cars. He later played in another mold-shattering police drama, The Gentle Touch (1982-84), as Detective Inspector Mike Turnbull - the partner of central character Maggie Forbes (played by the late Jill Gascoine). He also joined Gascoine on the spin-off series CATS Eyes (1984).

His other credits included two roles in Doctor Who: Peter Haydon in one of the show’s all-time classics, The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967), and as Axos in The Claw of Axos (1971) opposite Jon Pertwee: a role he reprised opposite Colin Baker on audio for Big Finish. 

He was a familiar face on British screen for over 50 years, debuting on TV soap The Newcomers in 1966 and still working in the past decade on shows like Doctors and Casualty. He was also a reader on children’s favourite Jackanory between 1974 and 1991 and was an in-demand voice-over man, his warm tones heard on countless adverts and documentaries. 

His longtime friend, BAFTA-winning producer Clive Doig, says 

From Z-Cars to Just for Men Bernard was a face and voice instantly recognisable. I first worked with Bernard when he played the burglar on The Phoenix and the Carpet, recorded in 1976. We struck up a lasting friendship and Bernard became part of my reparatory company in shows like The Deceivers and Eureka. He was always my closest friend in Kew - although he had many brothers of his own, Bernard and I were like brothers.

His friend, Coronation Street actor Toby Hadoke said

He was an actor whose easy naturalism that he made small screen acting look easier than it is, It’s no surprise he made TV his home so early on and that directors went to him again and again. He was always totally believable, communicating a lot by doing very little and he had a natural warmth and charm that made him easy to watch and a likeable performer. He was such a reliable and welcome presence I think everyone thought they kind of knew him.

He had been in ill health for some time and passed away on the morning of November 22nd. He is survived by his wife Jean, to whom he was married for over 50 years, and their son Michael, grandchildren Marley and Isla, and five brothers and two sisters.