Oscar-winning Chariots Of Fire screenwriter Colin Welland dead at 81

LONDON (REUTERS) - Oscar-winning writer and actor Colin Welland, who won an Academy Award in 1982 for his screenplay for Chariots Of Fire, has died after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years, his family said on Tuesday.

Welland, 81, who also won a British Bafta award for his portrayal of the English teacher Mr Farthing in director Ken Loach's Kes in 1969, died on Monday, a family statement said.

Welland was renowned in Britain for having warned American audiences, as he accepted his Oscar in 1982, "The British are coming!"

The Leigh, Lancashire-born former art teacher had a role in Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs of 1971 and became well known to British television audiences in the police serial Z Cars.

"Colin will be desperately missed by his family and friends," his family said in the statement distributed by Welland's agent, United Agents.

"Alzheimer's is a cruel illness and there have been difficult times but in the end Colin died peacefully in his sleep."

He is survived by his wife Patricia, four children and six grandchildren.