British screenwriter and playwright Charles Wood, known for such productions as “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Tumbledown” and “Iris,” has died at the age of 87.
His death, on Saturday, was confirmed to Variety by his agent Sue Rodgers at Independent Talent.
Born into a theater family, he began working in his local theater when he was a teen. After studying theatrical design at art college, he spent several years in the British army. After an assortment of jobs, he began to write professionally from 1959, with the completion of his play “Prisoner and Escort,” drawing on his army experience.
His first screenplay was 1965 comedy “The Knack … and How to Get It,” based on Anne Jellicoe’s play. Directed by Richard Lester, and starring Rita Tushingham and Michael Crawford, it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Wood was nominated for the BAFTA for British screenplay.
Among many films with Lester, Wood worked on 1965 Beatles film “Help!”; 1967 wartime comedy “How I Won the War,” starring Michael Crawford and John Lennon; 1969 comedy “The Bed Sitting Room,” an adaptation of a play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus, starring Tushingham, Ralph Richardson and Peter Cook; and 1979 guerrilla thriller “Cuba,” starring Sean Connery.
Wood also co-wrote Tony Richardson’s 1968 period war epic “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
Wood wrote the screenplays for three works about composers, directed by Tony Palmer: “Wagner” (1983), starring Richard Burton and Vanessa Redgrave; “Puccini” (1984); and “England, My England” (1995), completing John Osborne’s screenplay about Henry Purcell.
Among his many small-screen credits was 1988’s Falklands War drama “Tumbledown,” directed by Richard Eyre, starring Colin Firth, and produced by Richard Broke. It won the BAFTA for best single drama.
Wood was also nominated at the BAFTAs for best single drama for 1994’s “A Breed of Heroes,” about British soldiers in Northern Ireland.
He wrote the script for Mike Newell’s 1995 romantic comedy “An Awfully Big Adventure,” adapted from Beryl Bainbridge’s novel, about a theater troupe in Liverpool. It starred Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman and Georgina Cates.
Wood co-wrote with Eyre the script for Eyre’s 2001 film “Iris,” about novelist Iris Murdoch. It starred Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet, and all three were Oscar nominated, with Broadbent winning. Wood and Eyre were BAFTA nominated for adapted screenplay.
Wood also co-wrote with Eyre the 2008 thriller “The Other Man,” starring Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas and Laura Linney.
Wood is survived by his wife, former actress Valerie Newman, and his daughter, screenwriter Kate Wood.
Pictured: Richard Eyre, Richard Broke and Charles Wood (right) at the BAFTAs in 1989.
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