Farewell to a much-loved, borough-born entertainer - by David Callam
20th November 2009
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Farewell to a much-loved, borough-born entertainer

I AM SAD to note the passing this week of a 79-year-old Thornton Heath man who brought a great deal of pleasure to the lives of many in Croydon and beyond.

I refer to the RADA-trained actor Edward Woodward, who first came to our attention in the mid-1960s as a down-at-heel detective called David Callan – absolutely no relation.

After great success on stage and in film – particularly The Wicker Man – he returned to television as Nev the bin man in Common as Muck and in a cameo role with Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise, acting in one of those ubiquitous plays ‘wot Ern wrote’.

Eric asks Ernie: “Who would be brave enough to appear in one of your plays?” And Ernie replies: “Edward Woodward would.”

Mr Woodward also starred in a Welsh language drama called Tan ar y Comin, for which he needed special coaching as he didn’t speak a word of the language.

Later in his career he found a role to equal the popularity of Callan when he played Robert McCall, a former British secret agent living in the United States and known as The Equaliser.

But it is as a singer that I will remember him most fondly. In my days as a hospital radio presenter I used to host a weekly record request programme for the residents of elderly care wards and nursing homes around Croydon.

Mr Woodward, a local lad made good, was much in demand for his fine tenor renditions of Victorian and Edwardian drawing-room ballads. I was surprised to learn recently that he made 12 albums of such songs – about 150 titles.
Our music library only had one of them, but it was much used. Barely a programme went by without a contribution from him. And my colleagues who visited the residents and played them the pre-recorded programmes told me how popular he was.

Edward Woodward was an occasional guest on the BBC variety series The Good Old Days, where he sang for a wider audience, but his musical ability was never as much appreciated as his acting skills.

However, there was certainly a group of Croydon residents who were devoted fans of his mellifluous way with a sentimental song.


David Callam is a freelance journalist and the former business editor of The Croydon Advertiser. For more examples of his work and to see what he could do for your business please visit www.callamedia.co.uk

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