Colin Welland, British actor and screenwriter, Died at 81

  Actor, Writers

Colin Welland was born on July 4, 1934, and died on November 2, 2015.

He was a British actor and screenwriter.

Colin won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his script for Chariots of Fire (1981).

Born in Leigh, Lancashire in 1934, Colin grew up in the Kensington area of Liverpool before moving to Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire.

His parents were John Arthur (Jack) and Norah Williams.

Before becoming an actor, Colin studied at Bretton Hall College of Education where he qualified as a teacher – he then taught art at Manchester Road Secondary Modern school in Leigh, where he was known as “Ted” Williams because of his Teddy Boy curly hair style.

Amongst his pupils was the future magician’s assistant Debbie McGee.

As an actor, Colin appeared as PC David Graham in the BBC Television series Z-Cars, the film of Kes (1969), as a schoolteacher (of English), a former occupation shared with Kes actor Brian Glover and its writer Barry Hines, and as a detective in the Richard Burton film Villain (1971).

Colin also appeared as a villain in a 1975 episode of The Sweeney, and the series’ first cinema spin-off, Sweeney! (1977), as Frank Chadwick, an editor of a newspaper, before he began to concentrate on screenwriting.

He also appeared in Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills (1979), playing the character of Willie, and the film Dancin’ Thru the Dark (1990).

Colin also appeared in the series Cowboys (1980) with Roy Kinnear, a comedy about a dodgy builder.

Colin’s screenwriting credits include 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.

Colin 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, Colin was again commissioned by David Puttnam to write the screenplay for War of the Buttons (1994).

Colin died, peacefully in his sleep, on November 2, 2015 at the age of 81.

Colin had Alzheimer’s disease for several years prior to his death.