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  • Writer's picturePhilip Dehany

Carl Woodward? A cunning stunt? The next Alex Belfield?

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Last week Carl Woodward posted an article titled “Is It Time To Bin The Embargo?” after being called out again for breaking “so-called embargoes”. In an article that sets to clear these allegations, does Woodward actually vindicate himself, or was the whole situation a cunning stunt?

After declaring the receipt of death threats, digital pile ons, and threatening emails, is the unapologetic Woodward the next Belfield?

Inflaming a situation to promote themselves.

Deleting their own incriminating tweets.

Disabling comments on their tweets.

Blocking anyone who calls them out.

Claiming to be a victim of a pile on.

Exaggerating death threats.

Exhibiting toxic behaviour.

Bullying others and not showing a sense of community.

Using the “Be kind” mantra to try and undermine others.

These are all traits that were identified in Alex Belfield before he was imprisoned for 5 and a half years for stalking, after a decade long pattern of anti social behaviour and cyber harassment.

But these are also traits that I and many others have also recognised and attributed to Carl Woodward for many years.

Carl. Who also exhibits all the characteristics of a narcissist will probably adore the fact that I have now dared to compare him to Alex Belfield. But it is not an idle comparison or deliberate attempt, like many to click bait people to read this article by strapping Belfield’s name to it.

The striking reason why I am coupling Belfield and Woodward, is that I remember quite distinctly that they had both blocked me by April 2020.

At the time, this promoted me to share a story on Instagram about the pair.

The connection came up again this week, after another blogger was commenting on Woodward’s latest disgrace saying “It's shit cos I see a good side to him like his Belfield article”.

A curiosity, that Woodward was being seen as a hero for choosing the right side in the Belfield case. Or was Woodward, as he often does, wading in on something that has entirely nothing to do with him.

As perhaps I am now doing too.

The difference being, I was the first to write an article about Belfield that led to his successful conviction. I now have a right as a victim to talk about Belfield when I see fit, as I am qualified to do so.

I remember the first article that Woodward published about Belfield. I also remember that he didn’t reach out to check in on me, before or since publishing that and many other articles about my stalker.

In behaviour that was very clearly projecting. Belfield would often call out people for being exactly what he was.

On 12th May 2020. One month after I posted my second article about Alex Belfield, Woodward posted his, titled “Who Is Alex Belfield? (A Self Obsessed Tyrant)”

The article which contains screenshots of my tweets, and even tags #ThatStageyBlog was written after Carl had blocked me for calling his conduct and principles to account.

In all honesty, I can no longer recall what it was that Carl had said or done that triggered my opinion that he, like Belfield, was actually damaging to the theatre community. Despite both attempting to claim their “mission is to champion and promote theatre”.

Digging proved tricky but not impossible, owing in part to Woodward having two active Twitter profiles @mrcarlwoodward and @mrcarl_woodward, I did manage to find a few Tweets where I had responded to Woodward’s who in turn had deleted his original posts.

As with Belfield, where it was exhibited in court when I came to give evidence against him, one saving grace I can owe to Twitter is that even after the original posts are removed by their authors, any responses and replies remain.

They paint quite a picture, if not a full one.

In one Tweet, I seemingly came to the defence of theatre producer Paul Taylor Mills, suggesting to Woodward in response to a Tweet that he deleted that he “could try to be supportive too”. It was clearly directed at what I had felt was an attack on Paul and his team by Woodward.

The Twitter thread continues with another deleted post by Woodward, followed by my admission that I was trying to continue a conversation and discussion in relation to Woodward’s Tweets, which I can only imagine he was trying to now shut down.

This was in 2018. Two years prior to a statement that theatre producer Chris Clegg would make stating that “Carl Woodward is a troll. He's the Dan Wootan and Katie Hopkins of theatre. He's pathetic, he knows this post sparks a reaction.”

The Tweet from 2020 that Clegg was reacting to has been deleted but evidence remains that it related to theatre producer and member of Collabro, Jamie Lambert.

I then shared Chris’ Tweet with my own opinion that “I’ve honestly never understood @mrCarlWoodward's conduct or his principles. He seems to consistently cast negative and unsupportive views over theatre yet continues to try to assert himself into this community. I've never considered him welcome, especially not in these times.”

Whispers and passive aggressive tweets began to circulate last week, someone had broken an embargo.

In journalism and public relations, a news embargo or press embargo is a request or requirement by a source that the information or news provided by that source not be published until a certain date or certain conditions have been met.

Although it’s not a binding legal contract, it is frowned upon if someone does break an embargo, as its seen as impolite.

When it comes to the theatre community, which is relatively small, there are several notorious culprits who like to play with and break these rules. Carl Woodward being a repeat offender.

It didn’t take much digging to determine that Mr Woodward had done it again.

Like many things that exist in notoriety rather than its original context. I didn’t see or read the Tweet posted publicity by Woodward announcing before anybody could, that the production Bonnie and Clyde will be returning on 4th March 2023.

The official announcement had been embargoed until 10am on 25th October so that Whats On Stage could post the news as ‘Exclusive’ ten minutes before anyone else.

This isn’t uncommon, many producers and PRs secure deals with publications like Whats On Stage to try and push traffic towards their site, in return for continued support for the production.

Naturally an “exclusive” becomes nullified if someone reveals it first. This is what Carl Woodward did. He appeared to break the ‘gentleman’s code’ by posting the news the night before it had been lined up as a Whats On Stage exclusive.

But had Woodward actually broken an embargo?

In an article published by Woodward on 28th October, titled “Is It Time To Bin The Embargo?” Carl actually clears the whole matter up, albeit after he rants on for ten paragraphs in an attempt to make this an argument over journalistic status.

In the article Woodward vindicates himself, publishing the evidence that he actually discovered the “exclusive” news of Bonnie and Clyde’s return from a general ‘On Sale Tomorrow’ email earlier in the day that had gone to 1,000 other people.

As this information was revealed through a generic marketing email with no embargo associated to it, Woodward had quite legitimately shared the information on Twitter. Although the act of publishing the information and his further article would suggest, Woodward wasn’t simply conveying information to his “theatre loving public”.

As a professional in his field, with an understanding of procedure, this was an act of defiance from Woodward. From his article it is clear that Woodward’s priority wasn’t primary to clear his name but rather to push his own agenda that he feels embargo are outdated and unfair.

Although Woodward presents the evidence that he did not break an embargo, Woodward doesn’t make this the focus or title of the article, but reveals it later in to the article as his defence.

The question remains however, did Woodward know of an embargo. As well as the email that the agency later determined as a “technical error” Woodward does not state whether he also received the information from the PR with the request not to release it.

Woodward rightly refuses to apologise for not abiding by an embargo that a ‘technical error’ rendered irrelevant. Unless he was aware that the information was embargoed in which case surely he did break the embargo knowingly.

Woodward states “Hand on heart, if i receive a release with an embargo, I honour it. In fact, I was sent 3 this week.” If we are to take him for his word that he didn’t receive the notice with embargo relating to Bonnie and Clyde is this because he wasn’t sent it?

Can we therefore consider that Woodward was not on the PR list that got this information? in which case can we deduce that this was an act of defiance at feeling snubbed by the agency. Feeling left out that others had “privileged access” to this news, was this actually an act of retaliation?

Does Woodward feel angry that younger, lesser known bloggers and sites are given this information before him, or does he feel superior to them that he deserves and has an inalienable right to publish exclusive news before them?

Was this the reason why Woodward raced to publish the news. Does Woodward simply feel jaded and snubbed by PRs?

It is again similar behaviour and pattern to guess who, Alex Belfield, who would buy his own tickets to previews so that he could “review” shows before their official press night.

This behaviour does not only undermine protocol and procedure but it can actively damage a show. Shows are previewed for purpose, so that their makers can identify and fix any problem before critics are invited to draw their opinions. Press nights can often be delayed and postponed if producers believe more time is needed to work on the show.

By jumping the fence and reviewing a show in preview, when it’s not ready, is disrespectful, and unsporting.

Much like, ignoring an embargo, and then writing an article about why embargo’s should be abolished without actually given any just cause, just because you don’t like them.

Did he do anything wrong?

Did he seize this as an opportunity to get his own scoop, his own exclusive, is that not what journalism is?

The difference is that Woodward is not a journalist he is a blogger. The distinction being money. Journalists are driven to earn money. Bloggers, like Woodward in his own words do it to “champion and promote”. Which I am sure Woodward would argue is what he was doing. Sure the show certainly got a few extra column inches thanks to Woodward. But so did he. Which leads towards the reality that nothing is done entirely selflessly.

Even now by writing my article, I am promoting Woodward and in turn promoting Bonnie and Clyde, as well as myself. As you, the reader, have now been drawn to my website where you might poke around and read my other articles, or find links to my social media channels, follow me, or watch some of my YouTube videos.

So why am I writing about this?

Why am I getting involved?

Because I see similar patterns. I see similar traits in Carl Woodward akin to Alex Belfield.

Belfield would often sensationalize something to make it all about him.

After being called out for “breaking an embargo” the unapologetic Woodward posted this:

“a reminder that anyone sending me a death threat over a musical embargo will be sent on to the police. cheers!”.

At the risk of victim shaming. I have to admit that I found his wording insincere and quite arrogant. It also inflames what was inevitably just one death threat. [Woodward states in his article that he “received a death threat.”]

Not to ever undermine or accept any death threats or this type of behaviour, but posting a “reminder” followed by the word “cheers!” comes off as cocky rather than threatened. It feels as if Woodward is inviting them rather than discouraging them.

As someone who did receive threats during Belfield’s reign. I feel it is ultimately important if you are going to highlight these, then please do so in a genuine and appropriate manner.

Woodward admits that he has “previously experienced derision” when he has broken embargoes before. Then why, continue to do it? Why try to buck the trend, or change a system that appears to work for everyone else.

As I say, I read Woodward’s article with interest waiting to be convinced why we should “Bin the Embargo?” only to find a self righteous account of someone who within one paragraph plays the victim whilst simultaneously attacking others.

“And so, after Tweeting myself, a bunch of people I’d never met told me how dreadful I was. Twitter is not a kind place, even if it is full of pointless people who think they are.”

Should people be worried about Carl Woodward? Are the early warning signs and patterns there? Could he be the next Alex Belfield to weaponise the internet, and destruct rather than defend the theatre community?

In his original article, Who Is Alex Belfield? (A Self Obsessed Tyrant), Woodward forecast “As rude, unedifying, egotistical, and deluded as this spectacle gets, I for one think that enough is enough; time to ignore the unhinged behaviour and break this horrific cycle of attention. It would do him more good than harm in the long run.”

Woodward described Belfield as an “unhinged individual that represents everything that is wrong with modern Britain”

But who is Carl Woodward? He appeared to come to bloom after aligning himself with prolific critic Mark Shenton, attending many openings together whilst Woodward was asserting himself as a commentator.

The pair still seem friendly despite rumblings of spats and disagreements, and Woodward often heard privately bitching about Shenton.

With over 15,000 followers on Twitter, across his two profiles, Woodward does have a reach. But he had already abandoned his own YouTube channel with 16 subscribers, publishing only three videos before the first lockdown when Belfield’s channel famously grew from 20,000 to 380,000.

Shenton continues to endorse Woodward, sharing his recent article.

I await a legally worded email about mine, I’m sure.

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