Owen Holder

Mar 18, 1921
Jun 26, 2016

Related people

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.


From Owen Holder obituary | Theatre | The Guardian:

My father, Owen Holder, who has died aged 95, was a playwright, actor, theatre director and television scriptwriter. He appeared on stage in the West End and toured all over the US.

His father, Harry, died when Owen was eight, which made him determined to better himself. His life became one of many associations and connections over the decades, including one with Paul McCartney and the Beatles, for whom he wrote an unmade film script that conceived of the band members as four aspects of one person’s imagination.

He was born in Southgate, north London, to Henry Holder, always known as Harry, and his wife, Emily (nee Ramsey). Owen had to go into an orphanage in Reedham, Surrey, on the death of his father, staying there until he was 14. Suddenly thrown into the adult world, he realised he knew very little. He began reading widely and managed to soak up a prodigious number of facts, stories and anecdotes. My father was a wonderful raconteur who could do numerous and varied accents.

As an actor, Owen opened in noted West End plays such as Black Chiffon, which starred Flora Robson, and Now Barabbas in the late 40s. He also toured with The Winslow Boy in the US in 1947-48. In Waters of the Moon at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, in the early 50s his understudy was Donald Sinden, and the two became lifelong friends.

By the time of his encounter with the Beatles, he was already a well-established playwright: he had been recruited by Laurence Olivier to write for his fledgling theatre company (later the National Theatre) in the early 1960s. John Osborne once professed that he wanted to write plays “like Owen Holder’s”. Among the other actors and theatrical figures he came to know well over the years were Edith Evans, Dorothy Tutin, Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Wilfrid Hyde White, Wendy Hiller and Alastair Sim.

In the 60s, Owen wrote a number of Plays for Today and other television series for the BBC, teleplays for Associated-Rediffusion and Yorkshire Television and radio plays for the BBC. He was praised by John Wyndham for his adaptation of Wyndham’s story Random Quest for the BBC science fiction series Out of the Unknown. A 1970 episode of Dr Finlay’s Casebook he wrote was recently retransmitted. […]

In 1966, The Beatles were under contractual obligation to make a third film for United Artists, following the success of their previous films, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) and “Help!” (1965). Throughout the year, the press reported on various ideas and updates for the film.

In July 1966, it was announced that The Beatles had retained a script by British playwright Owen Halder. The script, named “Shades of a Personality“, called for a man (to be played by John Lennon) suffering from a three-way split personality, with the remaining Beatles playing each of these personalities. However, the project was eventually scrapped.

In January 1967, playwright Joe Orton was asked to revisit “Shades of a Personality” and turned it into “Up Against It“. This film was also never made.


It was announced this week that the Beatles’ next film, produced by Walter Shenson, will be based on an original story by British playwright Owen Halder. The Beatles will write the entire musical score and prerecord it in December. Shooting, in colour, starts in January, 1967.

From Disc And Music Echo – July 30, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – July 30, 1966


THE Beatles will start work on their third film next January. It will be a full-length movie in colour, and will probably be premiered some time next summer.

The story will be based on an idea conceived by TV playwright Owen Holder, who has started writing the screenplay. Walter Shenson, who produced the foursome’s first two pictures, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, will also produce the new movie, which will be distributed by United Artists.

The boys won’t be playing themselves this time,” Mr. Shenson told Fabulous. “They will be four individual characters in a story well removed from the themes of the other two films. They’ll be writing and recording songs for the picture, and this time John and Paul will also write the background score for the entire film.

Owen Holder apologised to Fabulous for being unable to provide much detail about the story line.

“It’s like the back page of a detective story,” he explained. “If I told you, the whole thing would be given away. I suddenly thought of the idea while riding home one night on a country bus. It’s quite unusual, and will be a new departure for The Beatles. Broadly, it’s going to be a comedy with some incidental social comment, and there’ll be some pretty girls around too. Not as many as I would have liked, but I think the others connected with the film thought the fans would get jealous if we have too many around!”

From Fabulous208 – August 8, 1966
From Fabulous208 – August 8, 1966


NOW that all four Beatles are back in London – Paul returned this week from a holiday in Kenya – the group will be working on material for their single release. They are due to go into the studios at the end of this month. A single is not now expected to be released until after Christmas.

Beatles press officer Tony Barrow said on Monday that there was no further news on the proposed third film, the script for which has been written by writer Owen Holder.

From Melody Maker – November 26, 1966
From Melody Maker – November 26, 1966

Last updated on December 22, 2023


Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *