Diane Holland: Actress who played the snooty dance instructor in 'Hi-de-Hi!'

As the snooty Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves, half of the husband-and-wife dance-instructors team at Maplins holiday camp in Hi-de-Hi!, the dancer and actress Diane Holland achieved her greatest fame.

The sitcom, set at the turn of the 1950s, was created by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and based on the writers' experiences of staging shows for Butlins. Yvonne and her husband, Barry (played by the renowned female impersonator and pantomime dame Barry Howard), were professional ballroom dancers who had once swept across the floors of the country's leading venues but were now reduced to imparting their skills to holidaymakers in the era before the start of cheap foreign package deals.

Instead of mocking the holiday-camp concept or the guests, who generally enjoyed the experience, Perry and Croft drew humour from the staff – and none more so than Yvonne and Barry. They remained po-faced and looked down their noses at everyone, doing nothing to hide their bafflement at how their careers had nosedived. At the same time, their own relationship was clearly strained, perhaps the result of Yvonne's previous infidelities. "Barry, don't be so common," was one of her frequent, frustrated asides. Perry described their relationship as "strange and rather sad".

Hi-de-Hi! (pilot 1980, series 1981-8) was typical of the ensemble comedies that came from the pens of Perry and Croft. It also featured Simon Cadell as Jeffrey Fairbrother, the entertainments manager, Paul Shane as the host, Ted Bovis, Ruth Madoc as Gladys Pugh, the senior Yellowcoat and Radio Maplin announcer and Su Pollard as Peggy, the chalet maid.

A reclusive person, Holland insisted that she was nothing like her screen alter-ego, but she was happy to become a Forces Sweetheart in the 1980s after receiving a letter from British soldiers stationed in the Falkland Islands.

Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1930, Holland was the daughter of a British soldier who had been gassed in the Battle of the Somme during the First World War. She grew up in Britain and trained as a dancer at the Cone-Ripman School in London (now the Arts Educational Schools).

She began her professional career as a dancer in variety theatre, working alongside comedians including Arthur Askey and Tommy Trinder. At the age of 20, she appeared in a BBC television production of the pantomime Cinderella (1950), starring Sally Ann Howes in the title role. At one time, with two male dancers, Holland was part of the cabaret act the Page Hatton Trio, for which she was clad all over in black and wore high-heeled shoes.

Branching out into acting, she worked in repertory theatres around the country. After her actress sister Gilda married Perry, who later co-created Dad's Army and Hi-de-Hi!, Holland occasionally appeared at the Palace Theatre, Watford, which the couple ran from 1956 to 1965. She then acted in the West End in the comedy Big Bad Mouse, alongside Eric Sykes and Jimmy Edwards, as the secretary Miss Spencer (Prince of Wales Theatre, 1967-72, screened on ITV in 1972).

On television, Holland was seen on and off as Sarah Maynard (1966-9), wife of the village GP Derek, in the much maligned soap opera Crossroads, as well as appearing with Sykes again in two episodes of his situation comedy Sykes (1972, 1973) and a special, The Likes of Sykes (1980). She made brief appearances in two other sitcoms, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973) and Grace and Favour (1992, 1993), David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd's sequel to Are You Being Served? in which she played a magistrate.

Holland was also seen in some small-screen dramas, including Poldark (1975), Mother Song (the second of the writer John Hopkins's "Fathers and Families" plays, 1977), Tales of the Unexpected (1980), The Children of Dynmouth (1987), Bergerac (1990) and Casualty (as a terminally ill patient, 2001).

In 1981, the actress played Mrs Fawkham-Greene in the BBC's 10-part adaptation of the children's novel Stig of the Dump. Her last screen appearance, 20 years later, was as the Maiden Aunt in a re-staging of Sir Peter Wright's 1985 production of The Nutcracker, performed by the Royal Ballet from the restored Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and broadcast on BBC2.



June Diane Neeltje (Diane Holland), actress and dancer: born Melbourne, Australia 28 February 1930; died Godstone, Surrey 24 January 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture