Writer Welland’s TV gems on sale at last

Colin Welland, left, accepts an Oscar for the best screenplay from Jerzy Kosinski, during the 54th annual Academy Awards presentation in 1982
Colin Welland, left, accepts an Oscar for the best screenplay from Jerzy Kosinski, during the 54th annual Academy Awards presentation in 1982

Fans of one of Leigh’s best-known cultural exports can savour his skills once more after a treasure trove of TV work was made available.

BBC Store has released half a dozen stand-alone 1970s dramas involving Colin Welland which were created for Play for Today.

This means that TV and film fans can own some of Welland’s most memorable scripts and acting performances for the first time.

Welland, who taught at Manchester Road Secondary Modern School for a time and died in 2015 aged 81, honed his craft in TV before going on to Oscar-winning success in Hollywood.

The works made available by the BBC include his deeply-controversial look at striking women in Yorkshire, Leeds-United!

The collection also contains The Hallelujah Handshake, about a mysterious man who joins a church congregation but may not actually be that pious, and Kisses at Fifty which shows his talent for creating sympathetic characters in a tale of a mid-life affair.

Welland’s acting skills are showcased in the comic A Passage to England, in which he plays a wily sailor taking an Indian family to what they hope will be a dream new life.

The collection is rounded out with Jack Point, in which an amateur theatre group is riven by tension when a young actor and an old stalwart battle it out for the lead role in a production, and the ambitious Your Man from Six Countries, about the effect of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The plays come with comments from Welland himself about each work, a short piece on his talents as a writer and performer and a look behind the scenes at Leeds-United!

Welland was best known for scooping the 1982 Academy Award for his screenplay of Chariots of Fire, memorably telling Hollywood “the British are coming” as he collected his statuette.

He also memorably appeared in Ken Loach classic Kes and wrote the screenplay for Twice in a Lifetime, starring Gene Hackman.

His son attended a tribute night in Leigh in 2015.