Sad news reaches us of the passing of Edward Woodward, who died today aged 79.
It’s rare for any actor to find a starring role during their career that leaves its mark – but Woodward successfully managed it three times. First, there was Callan, the British TV show that ran from 1967 – 1972, with Woodward as the world-weary secret service agent working for “the Section”. If Callan was, to some degree, a response to the success of the James Bond movies, then Callan himself was very much an anti-Bond. If the Bond movies were all about gadgets, guns, girls and glamorous locations, then Callan was an entirely different proposition: a lonely, cynical man, working in a grubby and distinctly unglamorous profession.
In 1973, Woodward starred in The Wicker Man, as a Christian policeman, Sgt Howie, investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish island run by a pagan community. Although it’s perhaps best remembered for Britt Ekland’s naked dancing, and the burning giant wicker man at the film’s climax, there’s plenty to commend Woodward’s performance as a man whose faith is tested to its very limits. It’s a far cry, too, from the cold ruthlessness of Callan.
Woodward sort-of seemed to revisit the Callan character in the 80s, for an American TV series, The Equalizer. There, Woodward played a former secret service agent turned troubleshooter working out of New York. The show was a huge hit in America – and, to some extent, brought Woodward greater recognition than Callan had.