Oscar-winning writer and actor Colin Welland has died aged 81, his family has announced.
Colin, a Lancashire-born father-of-four who acted in everything from Kes to Z Cars, won his Academy Award for the screenplay of Chariots of Fire in 1981 – famously waving his statue and announcing in his acceptance speech: “The British are coming!”
His family said in a statement that he had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years, but died peacefully in his sleep.
Colin Welland (Martin Keene/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
In a statement released via his literary agent Anthony Jones, his family said: “Colin will be desperately missed by his family and friends.
“Alzheimer’s is a cruel illness and there have been difficult times but in the end Colin died peacefully in his sleep.
“We are proud of Colin’s many achievements during his life, but most of all he will be missed as a loving and generous friend, husband, father and granddad.”
Colin, who died last night, is survived by his wife Patricia, four children and six grandchildren.
Colin Welland (PA Photos/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
Chariots of Fire told the story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.
On winning the award for Best Original Screenplay for the film at the Academy Awards in 1982, Welland warned the American audience: “The British are coming!” – a famous quotation attributed to US revolutionary war hero Paul Revere.
His writing credits also include Yanks (1979), which starred Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Gere, and the screenplay for Twice in a Lifetime (1985).
As well as screenwriting, Welland had a long acting career, appearing as Pc David Graham in BBC series Z-Cars and as a villain in The Sweeney. He also starred the films Kes in 1969 and Sweeney! in 1977.
Born Colin Williams in Lancashire, he considered Liverpool his home town.
A host of people have paid tribute to him on Twitter:
Very sorry to hear of the death of Colin Welland. He was ‘a big man from Newton-Le-Willows’ with big ideas. Rugby player, actor writer.
— Ray Connolly (@rayconnolly) November 3, 2015
Sad to report the actor Colin Welland has passed away. A talented writer. Won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Chariots of Fire.
— David Blanchflower (@DavidBflower) November 3, 2015
Sad news #colinwelland has died.
— Tony Fisher (@TonyFisherLive) November 3, 2015
RIP Colin Welland, I will always remember his performance in one of my favourite British films of all time Kes. #ColinWelland
— Jeff Stevenson (@ukcomic) November 3, 2015