×

Screenwriter-Playwright Charles Wood, Known for ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade,’ ‘Iris,’ Dies

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 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.

More Legit

  • The Prince of Egypt review

    'The Prince of Egypt': Theater Review

    In “The Prince of Egypt,” a swords-and-sandals epic minus the swords, no one speaks, they declaim; no one questions, they implore to the heavens. In a musical re-telling of the Exodus story that is bigger on plagues than on developed characterization, subtlety was always going to be in short supply. But did everything have to [...]

  • Katori Hall

    Listen: Katori Hall's 'Quiet Revolution'

    Playwright Katori Hall’s latest, “The Hot Wing King,” centers on a group of black gay men — a community so rarely depicted onstage in the theater that she can’t think of another example. Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below: Which means there’s real power just to see them represented. “Because there aren’t a ton of images [...]

  • Cirque Du Soleil Volta

    Volta: Cirque Du Soleil’s Latest Blends Themes of Self-Discovery with Street Sports

    Blending themes of loneliness, isolation and self-discovery with the magnetic culture of street sports, Cirque du Soleil’s latest iteration, “Volta,” is an eye-popping and psychically soothing spiritual journey experienced through a prism of jaw-dropping acrobatics and aerodynamics that leave one gasping for breath. The Montreal-based entertainment company has produced a steady string of awe-inspiring shows [...]

  • Cambodian Rock Band review

    'Cambodian Rock Band': Theater Review

    Is there anything less politically threatening than a rock band jamming to its own vibrant music? Tell that to the Khmer Rouge, which descended on Cambodia in 1975 and killed off some three million people, including many musicians. In Lauren Yee’s play “Cambodian Rock Band,” the doomed, fictional band Cyclo is represented by actor-musicians with [...]

  • Protesters demonstrate at the Broadway opening

    'West Side Story' Broadway Opening Night Sparks Protests

    Roughly 100 protestors gathered outside the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” on Thursday night, carrying placards and chanting in unison to demand the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ramasar has got to go,” they cried while holding signs that read “Keep predators off the stage,” “Sexual predators shouldn’t get [...]

  • West Side Story review

    'West Side Story': Theater Review

    Whittled down to one hour and forty-five minutes, “West Side Story” – with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins — has grown exceedingly dark and mislaid some of its moving parts in the new Broadway revival from edgy Belgian director Ivo Van Hove. (Can [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content