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David Puttnam

Colin Welland Tribute

Colin Welland Tribute

04 November, 2015

Colin Welland 

Colin Welland was an unswervingly good man; a fine actor, and a seriously gifted screenwriter.

These gifts not only brought him most of the accolades TV and Cinema can ever offer, but cemented the careers of everyone who rode on the back of his Chariots of Fire'.

The depth of his feelings, and sense of identity with the people he wrote about was achingly real.

When Harold Abrahams speaks of the 'unspoken snobbery of the English upper classes towards his immigrant Jewish family' it's Colin's Northern voice railing against the tragedy of a regional and class divide that still stunts us as a nation.

When Eric Liddell explains to his sister that "when he runs he feels God's pleasure" it's Colin's delight In athleticism and moral purpose you are listening to.

There is one short clip from an interview Colin gave about 'Chariots' that I still use when teaching, and which for me sums Colin up better than anything I or anyone else could ever write about him.

Following his success at the Academy Awards, Colin was being somewhat gushingly interviewed about the 'Oscar' and responded:

"We didn't make the film to win Oscars, that aspect of things never crossed our minds, we just wanted to do those men justice, we wanted to make it true, and we wanted to make it good - to tell their story, and give them the film they deserved".

He did that and much, much more.