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Holding On (ITV 1977, Michael Elphick, John Nettles)



Period drama serial Holding On told of  the life and times of the East End Wheelwright family over much of the 20th century from 1903 right up to 1970. The story began in 1903 with Dora Wheelwright struggling to bring up her kids, Charlie and Vi, following the death of her Stevedore husband in an accident.

Charlie as an adult found himself caught up in the horrors of world war one and then struggles to survive throughout the depressed 1920’s. He marries Ann and becomes in involved in the General Strike before having to go through another world war and it’s aftermath. Post war  there is the changing face of the East End and the loss of community. The family lived in Steadman Street.

production details
UK / ITV – London Weekend Television / 6×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 16 January – 20 February 1977 / Sundays @ 10.00pm

Writer: Brian Phelan / Novel: Mervyn Jones / Producer: Paul Knight / Designer: John Blezard /
Music: Denis King / Executive Producer: Rex Firkin / Directors: Raymond Menmuir (episodes 1-2 and 6), Gerry Mill (episodes 2-5)


MICHAEL ELPHICK as Charlie Wheelwright
JOHN NETTLES as Herbert Goodings
JOHN DUTTINE as Harry Wheelwright
PATRICIA FRANKLIN as Ann Wheelwright
KENNETH CRANHAM as Ted Wheelwright
DIANE KEEN as Yvette
TINA MARTIN as Marge Naylor
FRANK MILLS as Alf Harris
ROSALIND AYRES as Vi Wheelwright
MICHAEL LEES as Howard Buckley
STUART HARWOOD as Tommy Whitmarsh


1. EPISODE ONE Broadcast: Sunday 16 Jan 1977 @ 10:00pm)
1903. When her Stevedore husband is killed in an accident young Dora is left to bring up their two children, Charlie and Vi, alone.

guest cast
Lane Meddick as Waiter / Graham Ashley as Coroner’s Clerk / Bunny May as Henderson / Stanley Price as Patsy Sullivan / Neville Barber as Johnson / Paul Taylor as First Boy / Frank Jarvis as P. T. Instructor / Maggie Flint as Maggie Harris / Mary Healey as Dora
Crispin Gillbard as Gaffney / Raymond Skipp as Jack Wheelwright / Barry Winch asCharlie(as a boy) / Kellie Twinn as Vi (as a child) / Ashley Pontin as Tommy (as a boy) / Arnold Peter as Office Manager / Reggie Winch as Second boy

Director: Raymond Menmuir



2. EPISODE TWO (Broadcast: Sunday 23 Jan 1977 @ 10:00pm)
Dora has remarried but Charlie refuses to accept his step-fathers advice about a career, determined to work in the docks, but then the outrbreak of the first world war threatens to change everything for ever. In 1918 Charlie himself is caught up in the action.

guest cast
Lane Meddick as Waiter / Hilary Mason as Mrs. Finlay / Maggie Flint as Maggie Harris / Chris Webb as Referee / Dennis Blanch as Pete Simmonds / Mary Healey as Dora / Rosalind Elliot as Fanny / Lois Baxter as Reenie / Derek Martin as Sergeant / Liz Edmiston as Washer girl / Raymond Skipp as Jack Wheelwright / Barry Winch as Charlie(as a boy) / Kellie Twinn as Vi (as a child) / Linda Robson as Girl in street / Peter Robert Scott as Young Officer

Director: Raymond Menmuir



3. EPISODE THREE (Broadcast Info: Sunday 30 Jan 1977 @ 10:00pm)
1921-1926: It’s the depressed 1920’s and the strugle for survival is brutal, Charlie, back at the docks, becomes involved in the General strike but also finds time to fall in love with Ann Naylor.

guest cast
John Moore as Arthur Naylor / Stanley Price as Pasty Sullivan / Maggie Flint as Maggie Harris / George Hilsdon as Ship Worker / Mary Healey as Dora / Terence Conoley as Policeman / Andrew Knox as Peter / Mark Warren as Docker / Timothy Peters as John /
Christopher Holmes as Officer

Director: Gerry Mill



4. EPISODE FOUR (Broadcast: Sunday 6 Feb 1977 @ 10:00pm)
1931-1941: Charlie and Ann are doing their best to bring up a family despite the depression, when war breaks out again their boys, Ted and Harry, are evacuated. Charlie still has his job at the docks but the blitz is in full swing.
guest cast
Patrick Holt as Sir Arnold Hawke / Betty Romaine as Mrs Bennett / Alan Thompson as Landlord / Maggie Flint as Maggie Harris / James Appleby as Baliff / Eric Mason as Dock official / Mark Moss as Bill Whitmarsh / Nicholas Field as Nigel Hawke / Yvonne Manners as Lady Hawke / Mary Healey as Dora / Jill Gascoine as Betty / Wayne Brooks as Harry (as a child) / Gary Shail as Ted (as a boy) / Sam Williams as Harry (as a boy)

Director: Gerry Mill



5.EPISODE FIVE (Broadcast: Sunday 13 Feb 1977 @ 10:00pm)
1941 – 1949: The war finally comes to an end but Harry and Ted have now grown up away from home and the whole East End has changed beyond recognition.

guest cast
Patrick Holt as Sir Arnold Hawke / Nancie Jackson as Agnes Hawke / Lesley Daine as Luckie Pope / Richard Pescud as Estate Agent / Janette Legge as Pat / Mary Healey as Dora / Paul Haley as Vicar / Rosemary Blake as Susan / Rod Culbertson as Wilf / Gary Shail as Ted (as a boy) / Sam Williams as Harry (as a boy) / Bob Sessions as Chuck / Jamie Foreman as Charlie (as a youth)

Director: Gerry Mill



6. EPISODE SIX (Broadcast: Sunday 20 Feb 1977 @ 10:00pm)
1956 – 1970: Charlie and Ann’s kids have fled the coop for good and it looks like Charlie may have to face up to losing his livelihood with the restructuring of the docks and 30 Steadman Street is under threat of redevelopment.

guest cast
Colin Spaull as Milkman / Christine Shaw as Council official / Christine Shaw as Woman in car / Christopher Benjamin as Hymie Herberg / Liza Goddard as Jojo / Ronald Govey as Jack / Lesley Daine as Luckie / Ronald Clarke as Docker / James Marcus as Young docker / Diane Keen as Yvette / Georgina Melville as Nurse / Geoffrey Beevers as Doctor / Billy Colvill as Youth / Richarson Morgan as Council worker

Director: Raymond Menmuir


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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