Tuesday 17 November 2009

Goodbye, My Pretty Sergeant

It was sad to learn of the death of the actor Edward Woodward. I never knew his TV work, the work which won him his Golden Globe. For me he will always be Sergeant Neil Howie, the virginal Scottish policeman from The Wicker Man, the 1973 horror classic directed by Robin Hardie, one of my all-time favourite movies.

It’s a movie full of pagan magic and mystery, a wonderful evocative fantasy of ritual and song. Howie, who comes in search of a missing girl, is increasingly horrified by the practices he witnesses, a challenge to his conventional views on religion and morality. But the real horror, the meaning of his presence on Summerisle, is revealed only at the very end. Woodward was brilliant in the part, the perfect counterpart to the equally brilliant Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle.

Woodward was later to say that he was enormously proud of his role in the movie. He had every right to be proud, for he truly was, in the most complete sense, king for a day.


  1. I love all the little widgets on your new-look blog. I'm going to link up with you wherever I can. 'He had every right to be proud, for he truly was, in the most complete sense, king for a day.' What a fitting tribute. The Wicker Man as I have said elsewhere, is also one of my favourite films. It just contains so much truth about the powers of religion and captures so much of what constitues religious truth: saacrifice, ritual, etc.

  2. I'm getting quite adventurous. :-))

  3. Edward Woodward passed away on 16 November. His most famous role was as Sergeant Howie in the cult classic The Wicker Man which is also my favourite film, made in 1973.

    He was born on 1 June 1930 and went on to have a distinguished career in theatre, film and television, even appearing as Tommy Clifford in Eastenders in March 2007. Woodward’s first marriage was with the actress Venetia Barrett (born Venetia Mary Collett) in 1952. They divorced in 1986. She bore him 3 children. Tim Woodward (born 1953), Peter Woodward (1956) and a daughter Sarah Woodward (1963). Woodward had a relationship with Michele Dotrice who played Frank Spencer’s wife in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. They had a daughter (Emily) in 1983 and married in New York in January 1987.
    Woodward had a triple bypass surgery in 1996. It was announced in February 2003 that he had prostate cancer. He died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.