FAMILIAR face from 1980s BBC television is set to make not one but two appearances in Basingstoke.

Jeffrey Holland became known to millions when he played the role of Spike in Hi-de-Hi!, a sitcom set in the fictional Maplins holiday park.

It ran from 1980-1987 and its main cast, including Sue Pollard (Peggy), Paul Shane (Ted) and Ruth Madoc (Gladys) became household names.

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Pic credt: BBC 

And it established a career in comedy for multi-talented actor Jeffrey, whose life changed when he met the legendary writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft and joined the cast of the musical stage version of Dad’s Army.

“I have been blessed”, he recalls when I chat to him on the phone in advance of his local appearances. “It was thanks to the Dad’s Army stage show that I got to meet Jimmy and David. I played lots of different little parts and they got to know me and what I am capable of. I even did an episode in one of the last Dad’s Army episodes on television.

“They wrote Spike with me in mind and that’s what put me on the map.”

Jeffrey, who was born and brought up in Walsall, will be using his comedic skills in part when he plays the station master in Arnold Ridley’s comic thriller The Ghost Train, which will run in The Haymarket from January 28-31.

He knows the play well, having performed in a run of it 12 years ago, but he’s very happy to be playing a new role this time around.

“I played the comic lead last time around but this time I am the old station master. He tells the story – it’s a marvellous part. He hints at the doom that’s ahead. I can’t give too much away though!”

Arnold Ridley went on to play Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army and Jeffrey got to know him quite well when they worked together in 1975/6.

He revealed: “Arnold wrote it in 1925 so it’s in a very different style to how we speak today. He wrote it as a serious piece and didn’t like the fact that it got laughs but it gets them because people don’t say things in the same way these days.

“It’s a creaky old piece, a piece of theatrical history but people who know it absolutely love coming to see it. It’s very unique in its style.”

A possibly more vigorous stretch of his acting muscles is in store when he’ll return to Basingstoke in March with his one man show ...and this is my friend Mr Laurel. This passion project has been a lifelong dream and Jeffrey will perform it throughout 2015 in addition to his tour of The Ghost Train.

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“I have always loved Laurel and Hardy, and started watching them as a child on Saturday morning picture shows,” he explained.

“It is a thrill. I always knew it would happen when it was meant to and it dropped into place two or three years ago. I met Gail Louw and she was quite happy to sit down and listen to me talking about Laurel and Hardy.

“I needed a play and she’s a playwright and I gave her all of the research I had gathered. She didn’t know much about the duo but she immediately said ‘When do we start?’, and that was really encouraging.”

In addition to his performance, Jeffrey will stay in the venue after the interval for a Q&A: “It lasts as long as it lasts!

“The questions I get asked afterwards fascinate me. People always want to know more about Laurel and Hardy; their magic is still out there.

“I’m getting better at the Q&A section now – I found it very difficult years ago. I’m far more relaxed and happy doing that than I used to be.

“I’m definitely riding the crest of a wave at the moment!”

*See Jeffrey in The Ghost Train at The Haymarket from January 28-31.

...and this is my friend Mr Laurel comes to the same venue on Friday, March 13 at 7.30pm.

Tickets for both productions are available from the box office on 01256 844244 or online at anvilarts.org.uk.