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Holland, Tony (1940-2007)

Writer, Script Editor, Actor

Main image of Holland, Tony (1940-2007)

The BBC should be eternally grateful to the creative and highly productive partnership of Holland and Julia Smith. It was their close professional association (he as writer/script editor, she as producer/director) - beginning in 1970 on the police drama Z Cars (BBC, 1962-78) - that resulted in the BBC's highest-rating weekly serial, EastEnders (1985- ), placing the programme firmly at the heart of the network's schedule.

Although an early interest in acting took him to drama school, he turned to scriptwriting when a play he had developed was taken up by the BBC: 'The Isle Is Full of Noises' (tx. 3/5/1967), a twist-in-the-tail yarn about a woman's hatred of noise, was produced by Thirty Minute Theatre (BBC, 1965-73).

Through his agent, he landed the job of script editor on Z Cars in 1970, which had by then switched to a twice-weekly format. In 1973 he moved over to ITV as story editor on the series Marked Personal (1973-74), set in the personnel office of a Northern factory; Rooms (1974-77), observing the lives of residents of a boarding house; the thriller serial The Life and Death of Penelope (1976); and the courtroom case anthology Killers (1976).

He rejoined Smith on the popular twice-weekly series Angels (BBC, 1975-83), a serialised student nurses drama embracing social as well as medical issues. Continuing with a medical theme, the Smith-Holland team devised The District Nurse (BBC, 1984; 1987), a 1920s-set period piece following nurse Nerys Hughes as she negotiated her way through tight-knit, and often hostile, Welsh communities.

They left the series in 1984 to launch EastEnders, which, while becoming an instant hit, soon became arduous and exhausting. As a year-round series, the production schedule was punishing and eventually had a draining effect on both Holland and Smith. They remained with it for the first four years of its run, leaving in 1989.

In 1991, they were called to devise a new soap serial, set in Spain in an expatriate community. They developed a lively format, with an almost surreal edge, but the executive element had different ideas and the result was the dismal Eldorado (BBC, 1992-93). Later, as a complete change of air, Holland co-created for Swedish TV (with Louise Boije af Gennäs) the private eye serial Snoken (SVT1, 1993-97).

He was awarded a Special Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards in 2002.

Tise Vahimagi

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Angels (1975-83)Angels (1975-83)

Groundbreakingly realistic portrayal of the lives of NHS nurses

Thumbnail image of EastEnders (1985- )EastEnders (1985- )

The BBC's most successful soap - a serious rival to Coronation Street

Thumbnail image of Eldorado (1992-93)Eldorado (1992-93)

Notoriously short-lived soap intended as a European EastEnders

Thumbnail image of Z Cars (1962-78)Z Cars (1962-78)

Groundbreaking cop drama introducing new grit and realism

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Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Smith, Julia (1927-1997)Smith, Julia (1927-1997)

Producer, Director