Ram John Holder

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Ram John Holder (born 1934) is a Guyanese actor and musician, who began his professional career as a singer in New York City, before moving to England in 1962. He is best known for playing Augustus "Porkpie" Grant in the British television series Desmond's but has performed on stage and in both film and television.


Ram John Holder was christened John Holder by his parents, who were devout members of the USA-based Pilgrim Holiness Church. He grew up in Georgetown, Guyana, during the 1940s and '50s. Influenced by the church and the musical talents of his parents, he became quite accomplished playing the guitar. During the early '50s, the strict, strait-laced church membership was scandalised when he broke away and changed his name to "Ram" John. Holder began to perform as a folk singer in New York.[1] In 1962 he came to London and worked with Pearl Connor's Negro Theatre Workshop initially as a musician, and later as an actor.[2] Holder performed at several London theatres including the National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse and Bristol Old Vic.

His first major film role was as the effeminate dancer Marcus in Ted Kotcheff's film Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969), which told the story of interracial relations in swinging London.[3] John Boorman then cast him as the black preacher in the comedy film Leo the Last (1970), also about race relations, which was set in a Notting Hill slum in West London. Holder also sang the songs in the film. He again played a preacher in the Horace Ové-directed film Pressure (1975), made a cameo performance in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) as a poet, and appeared in Sankofa Film and Video's debut feature The Passion of Remembrance (1986).[2] His other film roles included appearances in Britannia Hospital (1982), Half Moon Street (1986), Playing Away (1987), Virtual Sexuality (1999), Lucky Break (2001) and as a Jamaican barber in The Calcium Kid (2004).

Holder played the role of Augustus "Porkpie" Grant in the situation comedy Desmond's, which was written by Trix Worrell, and broadcast on Channel 4 from 1989 until 1994. He later had his own short-lived spin-off series Porkpie.[4]

Holder has appeared in several television productions and joined the cast of EastEnders in late September 2006, playing Cedric Lucas. His last stage performance to date was as Slow Drag in the 2006 revival of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.[5] In 2017 he appeared in an episode of Death in Paradise as Nelson Myers, the estranged father of main character PC Dwayne Myers (played by Danny John-Jules). Holder reprised his role for three episodes the following year.

He has also appeared as 'Flying' Freddie Mercer in episodes of the BBC Television children's programme The Story of Tracy Beaker. In May 2008 he appeared in an episode of the BBC drama The Invisibles. He is seen in an ensemble part in Song for Marion, a feature film from Paul Andrew Williams, the director of London to Brighton, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp.

Holder has continued his dual career as a musician.[6] He has recorded the albums Black London Blues (1969), Bootleg Blues (1971), You Simply Are... (1975)[1][7] and Ram Blues & Soul,[8] as well as various singles and contributed to soundtracks for film and television. He contributed three songs for the film adaptation of Take a Girl Like You (1970).[9] Ram John Holder is the cousin of the jazz vocalist Frank Holder.


  • Blues+Gospel+Soul (Melodisc Records, 1963)
  • Black London Blues (Beacon Records, 1969)
  • Bootleg Blues (Beacon Records, 1971)
  • You Simply Are... (Fresh Air, 1975)
  • "I Need Somebody" (B Side: "She's Alright"), Columbia, 1967
  • "My Friend Jones" (B Side: "It Won't Be Long Before I Love You"), Columbia, 1967
  • "I Just Came To Get My Baby" (B Side: "Yes I Do"), Beacon, 1968
  • "Goodwill To All Mankind" (B Side: "Goodwill Sermon"), Upfront, 1969
  • "Battering Ram, The People's Man" (B Side: "A London Ghetto"), Fresh Air, 1973
  • "Battering Ram" (B Side: "London Ghetto"), Fresh Air, 1975

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gordon, Reverend Keith A. "Ram John Holder - Black London Blues/Bootleg Blues (1969/1971/2011)". About.com. Archived from the original on 5 April 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b Ogidi, Ann. "Holder, Ram John (1934-)". British Film Institute, ScreenOnline. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969): Film details". BFI, Film Forever. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  4. ^ Jaafar, Ali. "Desmond's (1988–94)". British Film Institute, SrceenOnline. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Ram John Holder". United Agents. 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Ram John Holder". PFD Group talent agency. December 2007. Archived from the original on 1 November 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  7. ^ Ram John Holder Discography. Retrieved 12 September 2006.
  8. ^ "Album tracklisting: Ram Blues & Soul". Algoriddim.com. Retrieved 18 March 2009.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Album tracklisting: Take A Girl Like You". Blaxploitation.com. Retrieved 5 January 2015.

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