I just heard on the news that actor Edward Woodward has died at the age of 79. This is a post that I wrote in September 2008.
I came across my old autograph album when I was straightening the study a couple of weeks ago. Back when I was a child I used to study the end credits of my favourite shows and write to the stars at the addresses of the TV studios.
It’s not a huge collection. Getting autographs was a very hit and miss affair in those days. Now it’s an entire industry with a lot of fakery involved. But back then you sent your letter and then maybe you’d hear back six months later or maybe you wouldn’t.
My first was Roger Moore, a lovely colour postcard with a genuine signature. It’s got the spit smear where I tested it because I couldn’t quite believe it was real.
Others followed. Flicking through the album now, it’s like a mosaic of my dream life at the time. Richard Bradford, Patrick Troughton, Marshall Thompson, Steve Forrest, Lawrence Payne and Roger Foss from Sexton Blake. Christopher Lee. A lovely picture and a typed postcard from Peter Cushing, and a super 8 x 10 and a personal letter from Callan star Edward Woodward.
Callan was possibly the finest popular TV drama of its era, and one of the least well-remembered because it was made on tape, not film. What survives of the show is really just archive material, below what’s generally considered to be commercial quality. I know there was a movie, but that isn’t the same. Callan nailed the intimacy of the TV medium.
Years later a friend of mine was producing a film in which Woodward was appearing, and I asked if he would do me a favour and pass along a signed copy of Down River with a little note, along the lines of “you won’t remember this, but years ago…” And I think I even included a photocopy of his original letter to me.
My basic message was, “You showed me how a public figure ought to behave, and I’ve tried to follow your example” And I signed the book “To Edward Woodward, still my hero”.
Got another note back from him, saying how delighted he was.
And, you know? I was eleven years old all over again.
5 responses to “Edward Woodward”
A fine actor and gentleman. Funnily enough, just a day ago I was thinking of his gut-wrenching performance in Breaker Morant. To those of us who remember: here's to Ewar Woowar!
My mum's favourite. When The Equalizer first aired my mum got settled and kept calling him Callan. I vaguely remember watching Callan on TV in the early 70's. My kids remembered him from his role in Hot Fuzz!
Callan and 'Lonely' yep I remember. Breaker Morant and The Wicker Man. A much underated actor and from the sound of it an all round good guy. Thanks for the memories
Stephen – thank you so much for this fine tribute to a magnificent actor. I actually learned of this sad event through your blog. Mr Woodward has been one of my favorite actors since seeing him in The Equalizer. I sent him a get well note in 1987 when he had his first heart attack. I only knew the name and town of the hospital so I didn't even know if he would receive it. I got a very nice note and autographed picture in return. What a thoughtful man.
I meant to order Callan after your great Callan blog in August but did not get around to it. Now it's
an absolute necessity!
I see that he starred in a yet to be released film called A Congregation of Ghosts. I hope it makes a national release in the states as I would love to see him in his final role.
For US fans of Edward Woodward, Callan Set 2 is being released in the US 1/26/10. You can preorder on Amazon.com.