Colin Edward Williams
4 July 1934
|Died||2 November 2015 (aged 81)|
Colin Welland (born Colin Edward Williams; 4 July 1934 – 2 November 2015) was an English actor and screenwriter. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Mr. Farthing in Kes (1969) and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for writing Chariots of Fire (1981).
Welland was born Colin Edward Williams in Liverpool[a] on 4 July 1934, the son of Norah and John "Jack" Arthur Williams. He spent his earliest years in the Kensington district of Liverpool before moving to Newton-le-Willows while still a young child. He attended Newton-le-Willows Grammar School and, after his National Service, he studied at Goldsmiths College and Bretton Hall College of Education. He gained a teaching diploma and qualified as a teacher, then taught art at Manchester Road Secondary Modern school in Leigh, where he was known as "Ted" because of his Teddy Boy curly hairstyle. He later became an assistant stage manager at Manchester Library Theatre.
As an actor, Welland appeared as PC David Graham in the BBC series Z-Cars from 1962 to 1965. He was a sympathetic schoolteacher in a BAFTA-winning performance in the film Kes (1969), and a detective in the Richard Burton film Villain (1971). He appeared as a villain in one 1975 episode of The Sweeney, and was in the series' first cinema spin-off Sweeney! (1977) as Frank Chadwick, a newspaper editor. His other film appearances include Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills (1979) as the character Willie, and Dancin' Thru the Dark (1990). He was also in the television series Cowboys (1980), a comedy about a dodgy builder, with Roy Kinnear.
Welland's screenwriting credits include the teleplay about the strike for equal pay Leeds United (1974), the film Yanks (1979), starring Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Gere, which was directed by John Schlesinger, and Twice in a Lifetime (1985), starring Gene Hackman, Ellen Burstyn and Ann-Margret.
When Welland appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 1973 he said that most of his own plays "usually champion the individual against the system". He said: "I usually find that it's one man's effort to break through what is usually expected of an individual."
Welland won the award for Best Original Screenplay for Chariots of Fire (1981) at the 1982 Academy Awards, and his acceptance speech included the phrase: "The British are coming!" (a quotation from Paul Revere). In the film Chariots of Fire, the sign outside the Church of Scotland in Paris shows the preacher for the 9 am worship to be "C.M. Welland"; he had played a vicar in Straw Dogs (1971). Following Chariots of Fire, he was again commissioned by David Puttnam to write the screenplay for War of the Buttons (1994).
Welland married Patricia Sweeney in 1962, and they had a son and three daughters together.
Welland was a lifelong rugby league fan and player who wrote of his support for the sport in newspaper columns. He stood up for rugby league against rugby union discrimination in the 1980s and 1990s.
Welland died in his sleep at his London home on 2 November 2015, at the age of 81. He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years before his death.
On his death, Chariots of Fire producer David Puttnam said Welland was "an unswervingly good man; a fine actor, and a seriously gifted screenwriter". Nigel Havers, who had appeared in the film, told BBC News: "I remember him being great fun with a great sense of humour and a very honest man. He had a tremendous honesty about everything he wrote. I'm just very surprised he never made more films in Hollywood. It's a great loss to us all." Z Cars co-star Brian Blessed described Welland as "a great writer and a very natural actor," adding "He had a tremendous ability for writing. He could write anything, any style."
|1971||Straw Dogs||Rev. Barney Hood|
|1981||Chariots of Fire||Writer|
|1990||Dancin' Thru the Dark||Bransky's Manager|