THE Oscar-winning producer behind Chariots of Fire has helped a Winchester author with his latest book, celebrating the centenary of the Paris Olympics.

Mark Ryan, 62, from North Walls, feels like the luckiest writer in Winchester to have had input of producer David Puttnam on his newest book Chariots Return.

Lord Puttnam, who produced the 1981 film Chariots of Fire based on the 1924 Olympics, called the book “terrific - informative and genuinely affectionate” and helped with the editing and content.

The Winchester author and award-winning producer met years ago when Mark was working on an earlier Olympic book. More than a decade on, Lord Puttnam still remembered Mark.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Chariots Return by Mark RyanChariots Return by Mark Ryan (Image: Mark Ryan)

Mark, who’s been writing on and off for around 20 years, said: “I am so thrilled and honoured that someone as talented and celebrated as Lord Puttnam has called my book terrific. He was one of the biggest producers going in the 80s.

“He not only allowed himself to be interviewed at length for Chariots Return, he stayed in touch all the way through the process and added helpful advice and extra information.

“As a humble Winchester writer this feels like magical help from the stars, a dream for my book project.

“I did dare to disagree with him quite a lot and I was very worried about his reaction but it was such a thrill when he said it was terrific, it’s such a relief when you admire someone so much.

“You put your heart and soul into a book for months and he could have easily of said he didn’t like it. I can’t believe a little guy like me managed to build rapport with such a legend.”

“It’s been quite an intense eight months, having realised that the book needed to be ready for the games this summer. It’s been a Winchester effort. Hopefully, we’ll get more people excited about the Olympics.”

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The book celebrates Olympic history and the Oscar-winning film, uncovering tales such as why the music is in the titles but didn’t make the actual film and why Eric Liddell ended up running the 400m.

Mark started the book in the summer and has been helped by Tim Underwood, who often works with Sarsen Press in Winchester. Lord Seb Coe and Sir Brendan Foster also contributed to the book.

A Chariots of Fire reunion was held on Wednesday, March 20 with Nigel Havers, the last surviving actor from the film, and Lord Puttnam ordered a set of Mark’s books to hand out. Following Mark’s suggestion, Chariots of Fire will be re-released in line with the Olympic Games this summer.

The film, directed by Hugh Hudson and written by Colin Welland, follows British athletes Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell as they compete for gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics. The games will be back in Paris this summer.

For more information on Mark Ryan and his work or to buy his book for £22 go to Chariots Return is also available on Amazon and from P&G Wells.