Tony Anholt (1941-2002)

Anthony Anholt was born in Singapore on 19th January 1941, the son of a Dutch insurance company representative who was captured by the Japanese shortly after his son’s birth and died labouring on the notorious Burmese railway. Anholt and his mother, whose own parentage was part Swedish, part Irish and French, escaped to Australia and from there moved to South Africa and then, finally, to England just after the end of the war. He was educated at Cranleigh in Surrey where he was a successful athlete, but he was also drawn to acting and appeared in various school productions of Shakespeare plays.

After school, Anholt drifted through a variety of jobs, including tea-tasting, selling toys and insurance, and then teaching English and Latin at a prep-school in Herne Bay where he met his first wife Sheila Wallet. After brief forays to Barcelona and Paris, he decided to take up acting in 1967 and auditioned for three different drama schools, but eventually opted to take private tuition, paid for by a job as a nightwatchman. He made his acting debut in a commercial for crisps and was hired to do a season in repertory at Folkestone where he appeared in 26 plays in 27 weeks. He then toured with the Century Theatre before joining the Playhouse Company in Oxford. He made his television debut as Hargreaves in Dennis Potter’s Alice, a BBC Wednesday Play broadcast in October 1965, and then appeared in an episode of Court Martial, but he mostly found work in theatre, notably in a West End production of The Boys In The Band.

That changed almost overnight when Anholt suddenly found himself much in demand on television. Briefly seen in episodes of The Mind Of Mr. J.G. Reeder (Find The Lady), A Family At War, Jason King (A Thin Band Of Air) and the feature film Fear Is The Key (1972), Anholt was spotted by Gerry Anderson who cast him as the flamboyant French detective Paul Buchet in the thriller series The Protectors, appearing in 20 episodes of the first season (1971/72) and 22 episodes of the second (1972/73). This was Anholt’s big break and he followed it with guest roles in The Sweeney(Contact Breaker), Angels and Crown Court, and prominent roles as Eduard In The Strauss Family and crooked model agency boss David Law in Coronation Street.

Anholt also appeared alongside his future Space:1999 co-star Catherine Schell in Napoleon And Love before he was offered a co-starring role in the second season of Gerry Anderson’s spectacular science-fiction series. As security chief Tony Verdeschi in Space:1999, he played a hot-headed but personable Italian who shared a playful relationship with Alpha’s resident alien Maya (Catherine Schell). Favoured by both Anderson and series producer Fred Freiberger, Anholt was allowed more prominence in the series than the other members of the supporting cast – even to the extent of adopting the lead role in episodes such as Catacombs Of The Moon, The Beta Cloud and Dorzak. He appeared in all but one episode of the series (The AB Chrysalis) although he was seen only in flashback footage in Devil’s Planet.

After Space:1999 was cancelled, Anholt returned to theatre roles, notably as Milo in Sleuth (at the Savoy and Ambassadors theatres and then on tour), Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady (on tour in Europe), Nick in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, Salieri in Amadeus (Theatre Royal, Windsor) and Ken in Whose Life Is It Anyway? (Theatre Royal, Windsor). He also made numerous television appearances in episodes of Minder (Windows), Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense (The Late Nancy Irving with Space:1999’s Zienia Merton), Terry and June (Disco Fever), Citizen Smith, Juliet Bravo (Halloween), Bulman (A Moveable Feast) and as the diamond smuggler Abdul in Only Fools And Horses (To Hull And Back).

Between 1981 and 1983, Anholt was regularly seen as Nick Stevens in the ferry-bound BBC1 soap Triangle, filmed entirely on location on a ferry cruising between Felixstowe, Rotterdam and Gothenburg. He then went on to appear for five years (1985 – 1990) as tycoon Charles Frere in Howard’s Way. It was while working on Howard’s Way that he met actress Tracey Childs, one of his co-stars on the series, and they married in 1990, his previous marriage having been dissolved in 1986. This second marriage was also dissolved but Anholt remained friends with both of his ex-wives.

Anholt’s son Christien, born in 1971, is also an actor and has been seen in episodes of Doctor Who, Casualty and Cadfaelas well as the feature films Preaching To The Perverted (1997), The Harpist (1997) and Appetite (1998). In 2000, Anholt was seen alongside his son in Love Letter, an episode in the first season of Relic Hunter in which Christien stars as Nigel Bailey. He also toured with Stefanie Powers and Michael Brandon in a production of The Apartment but his last role was as an anchorman in two episodes of the science-fiction series Lexx (Little Blue Planet and Stan Down) in 2001.

Tony Anholt was deeply interested in philosophy and meditation and had a taste for fine food (particularly Chinese and Thai) and drink (a good Scotch). He died on Friday, 26th July, aged 61.

Originally published in FAB 45.