Bernard Holley dead: Doctor Who and Z-cars actor dies age 81 after long illness

Bernard Holley stars in Doctor Who in 1971

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Bernard Holley, who earned his big break in the late 1960s when he starred as PC Newcombe in over 250 episodes of the hit series Z-Cars, had been battling a long-term illness, though the actual cause of his death remains unclear. He died early this morning. 

I think everyone thought they kind of knew him

Toby Hadoke

Bernard’s friend and fellow actor Toby Hadoke was one of the first celebs to pay tribute.

”It’s no surprise he made TV his home so early on and that directors went to him again and again,” he said.

“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.”

Bernard’s career had skyrocketed after landing a prominent role in Z-Cars in the late ’60.

Soon after, he went on to play two separate characters in Doctor Who, with his first appearance as Peter Haydon in 1967’s The Tomb Of The Cybermen episode and the alien villain Axos in 1971’s The Claws of Axis.

That same year, Bernard also appeared as Mr Hurst in the TV series Please Sir! for eight episodes.

Rocky O’Rourke was his next TV show in 1976, though his time playing PC McMahon was short-lived as the series was pulled after just four episodes.

Between 1974 and 1991, Bernard became a reader on children’s television series Jackanory, before taking on a recurring role as Richard in Birds of a Feather opposite Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph in 1998.

From 2000 to 2001, Bernard enjoyed a brief run in Hollyoaks where he played Reverend Green, followed by two episodes as Simon in EastEnders the following year.

In 2014, he made his fifth appearance in BBC’s Doctors.

His short films The Question and By Lethe Betrayed were released in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

His final movie, The Long Road, recently entered post-production and is slated to be released next year.

The Craig Griffith-directed flick also stars the likes of Paul Mundell, Phoebe Macintosh and Michael Langridge.

Meanwhile, fans have continued pouring their tributes on social media, with one user named @paulfair writing: “RIP Bernard, always perfect in every role he played, what an outstanding performer he was.”

Another user named @theliesofbryan applauded Bernard’s portrayal in The Mayfair Monster and Black.

They wrote: “His performance as the older Dorian Gray is the most genuinely terrifying I’ve ever heard on audio. RIP, sir.”

Another fan continued: “Fair thee well Bernard Holley, actor in Tomb of the Cybermen and Claws of Axos and familiar to a generation of 80s children through Eureka and Jackanory. 

“An uncanny similarity with Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones too!”

Bernard is survived by his wife Jane, whom he was married to for over 50 years.

Together, they share son Michael, grandchildren Isla and Marley, and two sisters and five brothers.

Bernard was born on August 9, 1941. 

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