CHRISTOPHER WOOD Born in Yorkshire on Thursday June 12th 1947 – the very day Sir Laurence Olivier’s knighthood was formally announced, Christopher was privately educated at Hymers College Public School. Christopher died on May 18th 2016.
He entered the British Film Industry in 1964 working at BRITISH LION FILMS Ltd under Sir Michael Balcon and The Boulting Brothers as an assistant in their Publicity Department. After a short spell at CBS RECORDS and film and theatrical suppliers WIG CREATIONS acting as Floor Manager for the legendary Stanley Hall, he then trained in cinema and theatre management with THE RANK ORGANISATION (THEATRES DIVISION) based at the Odeon Swiss Cottage and did relief management (including THE BEATLES CONCERTS at the Odeon [now Apollo] Hammersmith).
Christopher then joined METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER-PICTURES Ltd initially as their Roadshow Manager on the epic DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and was promoted to TV & Press Officer in 1966 – working on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. series and many other MGM films in that golden era, including THE DIRTY DOZEN, BLOW-UP and two Presley pictures.
An invitation by the Irish Film Censor and Director of THE CORK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Dermot Breen led to him being appointed Overseas Publicity Director for the 12th Festival in 1967 –hosting such luminaries as Trevor Howard, Dame Flora Robson and Donald Sinden.
There followed short periods at TIGON PICTURES Ltd as Publicity Manager and also RANK FILM DISTRIBUTORS Ltd:
In 1968 he joined TALUS PRODUCTIONS Ltd working as Publicity Controller for their Joint Managing-Directors Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot who were penning the now record-breaking NO SEX PLEASE – WE’RE BRITISH ! He was Publicity Director of the WHITEHALL THEATRE on UPROAR IN THE HOUSE with Joan Sims and simultaneously ran a theatrical agency – BROADWAY ARTISTES REPRESENTATION Ltd (a subsidiary of TALUS) with Producer Peter Elliott (former Chairman of the EABF / ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE ).
In 1969 he decided to turn his talents to acting and on joining British Actors Equity, he changed his name by Statutory Declaration to CHRISTOPHER FARRIES (as there was already a Christopher Wood in the Union).
CHRISTOPHER FARRIES obtained his FULL Equity card (then a 42 week professional work requirement) by touring and Company Managing with THE ARGYLE THEATRE based in Birkenhead where he also directed productions. He then took out his first No: 1 tour IT’S A TWO FOOT SIX INCHES ABOVE THE GROUND WORLD starring Avengers actress Linda Thorson acting as Company Manager and playing PC Beamish with his Deputy Stage Manager being Charles Dance who later went on to Hollywood fame.
IN 1971-1972 Christopher had a year-out and took an overland journey to Australia through 21 countries including Afghanistan, India and Burma – returning via the Indian Ocean and Africa.
A spell as the General Manager of a large pub-restaurant back in Yorkshire was followed by a mixed bag of work in the Seventies which as well as theatre activities such as playing Cardinal Wolsey in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS at the Grand Theatre, Swansea for The Festival of British Theatre, included working for GRANADA TELEVISION Founder and Chairman Lord Bernstein on his prestigious GRANADA GUILDHALL LECTURES (both in 1975 and 1977) and on DISAPPEARING WORLD and WORLD IN ACTION.
He also General Managed THE TAMING OF THE SHREW restaurant in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, THE BORSHTCH ‘n CHEERS in Chelsea’s King’s Road and THE WAR ROOM nightclub in Mayfair – all for Baron Benno von Borshtch. In 1979/80 Christopher worked for THE PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA helping to establish their new Subscription Scheme at The Royal Festival Hall. In addition to all these activities, he found time to travel for several Seasons with WINSHIP’S WILD WEST SHOW and tour the UK and Spain with their MEDIEVAL JOUSTING TOURNAMENT SHOW.
Christopher decided in the 80’s to concentrate entirely on acting work and there followed twenty years as a Pantomime villain working for his old pal producer Peter Elliott from Broadway Artistes Representation days.
He has played almost ALL the Panto-Villains (some more than once) including The Sheriff of Nottingham, Abanazar, The Demon King, Fleshcreep and King Rat, and worked with some of the greatest Panto-noteworthies such as the late great Billy Dainty, Ben Warriss, Cilla Black, Barbara Windsor and for many years with John Inman (with whom he has also done Summer Season and toured).
Christopher did a number of TV and Cinema commercials playing historical figures – SIR LAURENCE OLIVIER as RICHARD III for THOMSON’S DIRECTORIES – THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM for WEETABIX and WARLORD GENGHIS KHAN for NEW SUNSHINE BREAD, shot on location in Hong Kong (for which he had to learn Mandarin !
His many television appearances have included Supt. Wilkes – in THE BILL ~ Commander Sauvix, leader of the Sea Devils in the DOCTOR WHO series WARRIORS OF THE DEEP ~ SHINE ON HARVEY MOON ~ TERRY & JUNE ~ MOON & SON and THE HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE in which he worked with both Gareth Hunt and Peter Wyngarde. He also played Signor Rosselli in the film NUTCRACKER with Joan Collins. In 1988 he undertook a long national tour as Lt. Shrank in the musical WEST SIDE STORY.
All-in-all, Christopher has worked in almost EVERY aspect of showbusiness in a career that has spanned more than forty years.
He was delighted, when in 2001, as a member of The Royal Theatrical Fund, he was invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party. In the same year he made two CD’s – one reading THE GREAT WAR POETS and the other THE GREATEST EPIC POEMS in a series with Samuel West and Siân Phillips– music by Oliver Wakeman.
He lived for over fifteen years at the heart of Theatreland in London’s Covent Garden and also had homes in both Suffolk and Wales – the latter on the River Teifi – complete with friendly ducks!
A lifelong admirer of LAURENCE OLIVIER – Christopher was honoured when in May of 2007 he was invited to propose the toast of remembrance to Sir Laurence at his beloved Notley Abbey, the home he shared with Vivien Leigh – at a gathering that included The Earl of Buckingham – on the Centenary of the great actor’s birth.
Poor health forced him into early retirement and he located to the South Coast where, with his massive collection of Showbiz memorabilia, he is very happily ensconced in a lovely Edwardian house with a balcony affording views directly onto the sea and is penning his recollections of four decades (provisionally entitled NAME-DROPS & ANECDOTES ! ) about his times working with everyone from Cary Grant to Roland Rat – The Chuckle Brothers to Rod Steiger – Boris Karloff to Trevor Howard – Peter Cook to Robert Ryan and Roy Orbison to Gerry and the Pacemakers !
Copyright ~ Christopher Farries 2016