The British acting veteran passed away in his sleep on Monday night (02Nov15) after battling Alzheimer's disease for several years.

His wife Patricia and four children said in a statement, "Colin will be desperately missed by his family and friends... Alzheimer's is a cruel illness and there have been difficult times but in the end Colin died peacefully in his sleep... We are proud of Colin's many achievements during his life but most of all he will be missed as a loving and generous friend, husband, father and granddad."

Welland won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award in 1982 for Chariots of Fire and he famously declared, "The British are coming!" during his acceptance speech.

He is also well known for his acting career, particularly his role in TV police series Z-Cars in the 1960s and '70s, and his former co-star Brian Blessed has expressed his shock and sadness after hearing of his friend's death.

"He was an extraordinary character, " he tells BBC News. "He was very tough... I'm absolutely shocked that he died. I didn't think Colin would ever die. We were tremendous chums... (He was) a colossal individual... a brilliant cheerful guy... A very natural actor... Immensely gifted...

"I'm absolutely distraught... I can't believe that he's died. Of course he's been ill for some time I gather."

Blessed goes on to reveal he and Welland were often mistaken for each other as they looked so similar.

"We were both physically powerful and we were often confused," he adds. "We were always being confused. A BBC director congratulated me on a (scene in an) episode of Z Cars and I shook him by the shoulders and said 'It wasn't me!'"

Welland also appeared in British drama Kes, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award in 1970, as well as Straw Dogs and TV cop show The Sweeney.

His writing credits include 1979's Yanks, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Gere, and Gene Hackman drama Twice in a Lifetime in 1985.