9. Ram John Holder
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 actually 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, straight-laced church membership was scandalised when he broke away and changed his name to “Ram” John. Holder began his performing career as a folk singer in New York. In 1962 he came to London and worked with Pearl Connor’s Negro Theatre Workshop initially as a musician, and later as an actor. Holder performed at several London theatres including the Royal National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse and Bristol Old Vic.
His first major film role was as the effeminate dancer Marcus in Ted Kotcheff’s 1969 film Two Gentlemen Sharing, which told the story of interracial relations in swinging London. John Boorman then cast him as the black preacher in the 1970 comedy film Leo the Last, 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 in 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 in 1986. 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.