William Peter Holmes

Actor and Teacher

William Peter Holmes, known professionally as Peter Holmes, was a fine and spirited actor. He appeared in several TV productions in the 1960s, notably as an alien in Dr Who, as well as on stage for the RSC. When I knew him, he was married to Barbara Murray, British film actor. The above picture is of Peter Holmes as Tamburlaine in the Marlowe classic, produced by Oxford University in 1960.

'Bill' Holmes, as he was affectionately known to his students at Raynes Park Grammar School, taught me English Literature. It was in his class that I first met with Shakespeare, studying Hamlet in detail. I also remember the joy of discovering Andrew Marvell.

Peter 'Bill' Holmes (centre) at Raynes Park Grammar School, 1969

'Bill' would arrive at school in his trendy fur-lined kaftan coat and black leather cap, the epitome of a Liverpudlian beatnik. While the rest of the staff sat behind their desks, 'Bill' would perch himself on the edge of his, filling the room with an energy which I have seldom seen or experienced since.

Many years after leaving school, having learned to love English Literature because of Peter Holmes, I proudly introduced my ex-teacher to my colleagues when he came to see me in a play at the Richmond Theatre; we spent a happy hour afterwards at the pub (his favourite haunt, as I seem to remember from one particular school trip to York). Since then, we have lost touch and I am unsure if Peter Holmes is even still with us. Rest assured, he is remembered in this website and his life is commemorated accordingly.

Thanks Peter Holmes, or Bill Holmes, or WPH, wherever you may be. Your ever-admiring student.

Kevin Quarmby


It is with great sadness I learn that Peter Holmes died peacefully after a long illness with cancer 16 March 2010


William Peter Holmes
Born December 7 1936 Died 16 March 2010

My thanks to his brother, John Holmes, MBE, and to his friends, Gordon Honeycombe and Sydney Norris, for information supplied, particularly Sydney's kind email which said: "John says that when he told Peter about your surfacing, his eyes lit up with evident pleasure at recollections.  So I think you can assume your enquiries cheered him up a bit." I was reminded elsewhere that Peter Holmes cast me as the Second Gravedigger in Hamlet at Raynes Park (1968). My first 'performance' of Shakespeare. The first night, my schoolboy's wooden prop spade broke in two. Peter commented afterwards on my comic timing as I shrugged, tossed it to one side, and proceeded to mime shovelling Ophelia's grave with my bare hands.