Denis Lill on tour with Christie's Murder on the Nile
Mad Dog star Denis Lill is appearing in a touring production of Agatha Christie's 1944 crime mystery Murder on the Nile.
Presented by the official Agatha Christie Theatre Company and starring Kate O'Mara (Dynasty, Bad Girls), Denis Lill, Susie Amy, (71 Degrees North and Footballer's Wives, Chloe Newsome, (Coronation Street), Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier) and 1960s pop star, Mark Wynter.
Reviewing the show's run at The Palace Theatre, Southend, Maureen Hylands writes:
Denis Lill (Canon Pennefather) who, in a fantastic solo scene finally acts out and discovers the murderer) has the most natural movements possible onstage, every action flowing, every gesture arriving to fit script and emotion as one. A rare talent indeed and a pleasure to watch for that alone.
The production, managed by theatrical producers Bill Kenwright Ltd, and through special arrangement with Agatha Christie Ltd, is the seventh in an ongoing series of stage presentations of Christie's work by the company's ensemble.
Murder on the Nile began its tour in early January 2012 continues at venues across the country, concluding at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge in August 2012.
Monsal Trail Mad Dog tunnel re-opens
Work to open up all the previously closed railtunnels on the Monsal Trail (including the Headstone Tunnel seen in Mad Dog) has now been completed. This means that it is now possible to walk, cycle or horseride the entire length of the trail - from its beginning, adjacent to the train station in the village of Bakewell, to its conclusion, at Blackwell Mill at Chee Dale.
Work to open up the trail was undertaken by the Peak District National Park Authority, with a budget of £2.25 million provided by the Department of Transport. The tunnels have been repaired and made safe, the huge locked steel doors removed, the trail resurfaced and all of the tunnels provided with electric light. Following the closure of the line in 1968, all of the tunnels on the line had were sealed, and, until now, the Monsal Trail had to divert around each of the tunnel sections in turn.
With the tunnels along the Monsal Trail now fully accessible, Survivors' enthusiasts have the opportunity to view the open Headstone tunnel and walk the route along which the tunnel-side dog pack approaches - unfortunately, the impressive stalactites are long gone...
Many thanks to Adrian Hulme for sharing the photos below, taken on a recent trip to Monsal Dale
Denis Lill does the honours at local fête
Mad Dog star Denis Lill was guest of honour at the 2011 Montacute Church fair in Somerset on 11 June. Lill
opened proceedings and took the time to get into the spirit of things by joining in the performance of local Morris Dancers (see photo below).
All eyes were back on Denis Lill as he crowned the Montacute Carnival prince and princess ahead of next weekend's parade. Caroline Lewars, one of the organising committee, invited Mr Lill as a family friend. She said: "He's an old friend from when we both lived in East Chinnock.
"His wife and I used to co-chair the playgroup and we've kept in touch.
"When we were thinking about someone who could come along and open the fête for us, I thought of him and it was very nice of him to agree."
Lill to appear in national tour of Season's Greetings
The production is brought to the stage by Bill Kenwright Ltd, the same company responsible for Lill's recent Agatha Christie productions, including Witness for the Prosecution, Spider's Web and And Then There Were None.
Mad Dog actors on TV
Robert Pugh (Terry, in Mad Dog) appeared in the stylish BBC
One seven-part thriller The Shadow Line,
which starred Christopher Eccleston, in May-June 2011. Pugh played the role of the doomed drugs baron Bob Harris. Denis Lill (Charles) appears in the final series of nostalgic hospital drama The Royal (ITV 1), which begans its last run in June 2011, in the returning, recurring role of Mr Rose.
Robert Pugh stars in new Justice drama
Robert Pugh (Terry in Mad Dog) takes the lead role in new BBC daytime legal drama Justice.
Set in the Dovefield Public Justice Centre in Liverpool a
"one-stop shop for crime and punishment" Pugh plays the role
Judge Paddy Coburn, a passionate but flawed advocate for justice.
"On one level he's very together, as he has to be for a Judge – knowing the law and having experience of the law. He's been around and travelled quite a bit.
In another sense, he's all over the place emotionally. This is because of his past which creeps up on him like a tsunami. He's a paradox of himself, and that's what makes him interesting as a character.
What drives him is the tremendous amount of guilt he has and that is what has brought him back to the city.
He's trying to sort it out because he's not a happy man. He has made a decision that until everything in his past is resolved, he isn't going to be happy."
Justice begins on BBC One daytime on 4 April 2011.
Morris Perry appears in Not Going Out
Morris Perry (Richard Fenton in Mad Dog)
appeared in a brief supporting role in the Fireworks
episode of series four of BBC One situation comedy Not
Going Out on 3 February 2011.
Perry played the role of Stan, a pensioner friend of the
aged guest character Betty (Vilma Hollingbery), "an old lady
[who] wanders into Lucy's flat and makes herself
at home on the sofa." With Daisy somewhat confused about her
home address, it is Stan who (recognising Daisy in the street)
directs Lee and Tim to the nursing home where she lives.
Ilam Mad Dog locations
An impromptu late autumn trip to the hillsides above the village of Ilam (location for both Fenton's half-way house and Ellen and Ron's farm in Mad Dog) in October 2010 coincided with some bright and clear weather - ideal for some updated location photography.
Above: Ilam Tops Farm - location for Ellen and Ron's farm
Above: Avenue of trees near Ilam Tops Farm - location for Ron's taunting of Charles
Above: The approach to Air Cottage - location for Fenton's half-way house
Hampton Loade - new photos of Mad Dog station
A visit to the Hampton Loade train station on the Severn Valley Railway (the location for the closing sequences of Mad Dog) in June 2010 provided the ideal opportunity for some new photos of this memorable location, in some bright early summer weather.
Mad Dog's Robert Pugh guest-stars in Doctor Who
Robert Pugh, who plays the role of train fireman Terry in Mad Dog, appeared in the 22 May 2010 episode of Doctor Who entitled 'The Hungry Earth', the eighth installment of the current series.
Pugh plays the role of the mining geologist Tony Mack who is supervising a deep-core drilling operation in Wales, which inadvertently threatens a race of aliens living far below the Earth's surface.
This episode (the first of a two-parter) was followed by concluding installment 'Cold Blood' (broadcast on 29 May 2010) in which Pugh also appeared.
Robert Pugh (as Tony Mack) and Meera Syal (as Nasreen Chaudhry) in Doctor Who episode 'The Hungry Earth'
Denis Lill (Charles, Mad Dog) interviewed on tour
Jameson of the Entertainment Focus web site has published
a new online interview with Denis Lill, on
tour with the Agatha Christie Theatre Company's production
of Witness for the Prosecution. In the interview,
Lill discusses his current on-stage role as Sir Wilfred Robarts
QC in Witness, alongside many different aspects of
his extensive theatre and TV career.
Reflecting on his work on Survivors, Lill briefly refers to the filming of Mad Dog, acknowledges the continuing interest of Survivors' fans and recalls some personal memories of his time on the show:
I've been back to Callow Hill [the main filming location for series two], which is just above Monmouth quite a few times. It took me a long time to really let go of the place because it sort of changed my life in a funny sort of way. We were up there for about six months filming, and I met and made friends, and it's also a very charismatic place. If there is such a thing as special places in the world, there was something about that place that was very special for me, and I just loved it so much that I kept gravitating back towards it whenever I was in the area I'd pop in to Callow and say hello, and how’s everything going? I haven’t been there for some time now, so I guess I kind of exorcised that particular one (laughs)!
Many thanks to Gregory Jameson for permission to quote from his interview.
Mad Dog actor and stunt arranger Max Faulkner dies
Actor, stuntman and stunt co-ordinator Max Faulkner (Phil, Mad Dog) passed away recently.
Born in 1931, Faulkner's long TV career began in the late 1950s with appearances in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1957), The Buccaneers (1957) and Ivanhoe (1958). Faulkner's genre credentials were extensive, often combining acting roles with stunt work, including appearances in The Prisoner (1968), Space 1999 (1976), Blake's 7 (1980) and The Day of the Triffids (1981).
Faulkner also worked on the big-screen in movies including Bond films From Russia with Love (1963) and Goldeneye (1995), war movies I was Monty's double (1958) and Where Eagles Dare (1968), and fantasty films Willow (1988) and Nightbreed (1990).
Faulkner worked alongside Doctors Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, featuring in The Ambassadors of Death (1970), The Monster of Peladon (1974), Planet of the Spiders (1974) - with Pertwee; and Genesis of the Daleks (1975), The Android Invasion (1975), The Hand of Fear (1976, as fight arranger), and The Invasion of Time (1978) - with Baker.
A repeat broadcast of a ghostly 1973 radio play featuring Morris Perry (Fenton, Mad Dog) was heard on BBC 7 in April.
Perry appears in an installment of the Vincent Price-narrated The Price
of Fear entitled Come as You Are as a husband
in an unhappy marriage who meets a grisly end when his efforts
to do away with his disloyal wife go badly wrong.
Come as You Are was broadcast on 4 April 2010, and made available on the BBC iPlayer service for a week following transmission.
Denis Lill on tour in Agatha Christie's 'Witness'
Denis Lill is on tour with the latest Agatha Christie Theatre Company's production of Witness for the Prosecution.
The tour began in Shrewsbury in January 2010, before travelling to Barnstable, Cardiff, and now moves on on to Blackpool (The Grand, March 8-13), Rhyl (Pavilion, 5-10 April), Southend-on-Sea (The Palace, 24-29 May), and Cambridge (Arts Theatre, 31 May-5 June). The tour then continues at venues across the country until September 2010.
Lill co-stars in the role of leading barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts. Alongside Lill, the cast includes: Honeysuckle Weeks (from the BAFTA award-winning Foyle's War), Ben Nealon (Soldier, Soldier), and Robert Duncan (Drop the Dead Donkey), with Peter Byrne (Dixon of Dock Green), Jennifer Wilson (The Brothers) and 1960's teen idol Mark Wynter.
Monsal viaduct features in The Wolfman film
The Monsal viaduct - one of several iconic locations used in the filming of Mad Dog - appears in the 2010 big-budget horror movie The Wolfman.
Footage showing a computer-generated steam train crossing
the viaduct (see the screengrab below) features in the film's
The film also features extensive sequences shot at and in the grounds of the nearby Chatsworth House.
Monsal Mad Dog tunnel to re-open
Ambitious plans to re-open the closed railway tunnel sections of the Monsal Trail (including the Monsal Head tunnel seen in Mad Dog) as a recreational attraction for walkers, cyclists and horse riders have been approved by the Derbyshire Peak District.
All of the rail tunnels were sealed following the closure of the line after the Beeching cuts, and in recent years walkers and cyclists have had to divert from the main trail to complete the journey between Buxton and Bakewell.
Work on the £3.785m project will commence in early 2010. The Sheffield Star reports that: "The Department of Transport is contributing £1m to the project and Cycling UK has promised a donation of £1.25m."
Richard Campen, the National Park Director of Operations says of the project: "It will create both a spectacular cycling route and a realistic alternative to the car, enabling more people to make healthy choices for themselves and for the environment... It will also benefit local tourism businesses with rail and cycle-based travel packages."
"The national park is a huge asset and this project gives us a real opportunity to develop a generation of cyclists who cycle regularly, with all the health benefits that brings... There are lots of potential opportunities to extend the proposed scheme by working with public transport providers and local authorities in neighbouring urban areas. For example, it would be great if a visitor or commuter could catch a train in Manchester, get off in Buxton and then ride straight down a cycle trail into the national park."
Footage of some of the closed sections of the line can be seen on the BBC News site.
Progess on this exciting and long-awaited project will be followed closely on the Survivors: Mad Dog site.
Mad Dog scriptwriter pens turbulent football history
Mad Dog scriptwriter Don Shaw has penned
a new book recounting the events surrounding football manager
Brian Clough's six year tenure at Derby County in the late
1960s and early 1970s - and in particular on the events surrounding
Clough's contentious resignation from the club in October
Shaw explained to the Derby Telegraph what led him to research and write Clough's War: "I have been a Derby County supporter since I was 10. I saw them win the Midlands Cup in 1944... and was always a fan from then on. I was a season ticket holder when Clough resigned and I couldn't believe it and had to do something about it… I first came across Brian just after we started the protest movement, a few days after he resigned from Derby County… I got people together and we all met at the Crest Hotel, in Littleover. Clough and I worked together to get him back because he regretted leaving Derby bitterly."
Shaw hopes his book will eclipse the controversial version
of Clough presented in book and film versions of the The
Damned Utd, which focused on his tenure at Leeds United.
The work "angered former players, fans and members of the
Clough family." Shaw recounts that he was approached by Clough's
widow Barbara Clough to "voice her protest at the dark depiction
of her husband in the [Damned Utd] novel."
Writing in The Independent, reviewer Simon Redfern says of Shaw's alternative take on the Clough phenomenon: "He is avowedly partisan… but he isn't blind to Clough's faults, observing acutely that his pride was as much a source of weakness as of strength… Shaw dramatises the increasingly bitter confrontations between Clough and Sam Longson, Derby's dour chairman, very well - an account of secret meetings, complete with passwords, reads like a John le Carré novel."
Shaw is hopeful that his book may be optioned for film adaptation. "I know a top director who was going to direct The Damned Utd", says Shaw, "and didn't because he didn't think the script was up to what he expected and instead is interested in doing a film of my book".
Clough's War was published in hardback on 7 May
2009 and will be released in paperback on 3 June 2010. The
book is available from Amazon
and most online and highstreet booksellers.
Denis Lill on tour in Agatha Christie's 'Spider's Web'
Actor Denis Lill (Charles Vaughan) is touring once again with The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, this time in a production of Spider's Web.
The tour began at the Palace Theatre in Southend on 9 March
2009 and continues at venues across the country, concluding
on 7 November 2009 at the Churchill theatre in Bromley. During
the 2008 tour of And Then There Were None (see below),
conflicting work commitments saw Lill leave the production
part-way through the tour, but Lill will remain with this
production for the entire of the tour.
Full details of the tour dates are available through The Stage online listings service. More details about the production can be found on the Agatha Christie Ltd site.
Publicity for the tour explains: "Presented by the official Agatha Christie Theatre Company, the all-star cast features Denis Lill from The Royal, Survivors, and Outside Edge, Melanie Gutteridge best known for her role as PC Emma Keane in The Bill. Catherine Shipton famous for her long-standing and highly acclaimed role as Duffy in the hit BBC hospital drama Casualty, Soldier Soldier star Ben Nealon, Bruce Montague renowned for his role in Butterflies, and Mark Wynter who has delighted audiences with his all round talents from pop career to TV, film and stage."
Monsal Dale features in BBC4's Railway Walks
The principal Mad Dog location - Monsal Dale, in the Derbyshire Peak - features in the first episode of a new BBC4 series Railway Walks first broadcast on Thursday 2 October 2008.
Presented by Julia Bradbury, the series takes the viewer through a series of walks, following the routes of long disused railway lines in both rural and urban locations across Britain.
Episode one, 'The Peak Express', follows a walk along the Monsal trail, starting in the village of Bakewell, before passing through the Monsal valley and out along Miller's Dale.
The episode includes a range of different footage of the Monsal viaduct, and includes sequences shot inside the sealed-off 'Headstone tunnel' (from which one of the dog packs appears in Mad Dog).
'The Peak Express' was repeated several times on BBC4, and the programme was also made available on the BBC's iPlayer service.
Mad Dog scriptwriter pens second Hike novel
Mad Dog screenwriter Don Shaw has produced a follow-up to his acclaimed 2004 novel The Hike. Published by Breedon Books, The Hike... and every damn thing else returns to the characters introduced in the original story to revisit the trials and tribulations of the trio of grumpy-old-ramblers. The publisher describes the new novel as follows:
Published, March 2008
Publisher: Breedon Books
ISBN: 978 1 85983 612 5
Format: 224 pages, pback
Once more we meet Freddy, Phil and Don – the hilarious, yet deep thinking, tales of three retired men determined to keep hiling to the bitter end in their beloved Peak District – but each for very different reasons...
Phil – a former air-traffic controller and the group’s self-appointed leader – is on a mission not to grow old. He believes his combination of obsessive physical exercise and the latest health supplements will hold back time.
His constant sparring partner is Freddy – a shambolic slacker who prefers to stroll and smell the flowers. Freddy's eternal mission is to find the meaning of life. Until he does, he takes consolation in outmanoeurvring the vulgar, aspirational world around hims with his very own art of 'onedownmanship'.
Thankfully they have Don to calm the waters. All Don asks for in return is some peace, tranquility and perhaps a decent pint when they reach their destination.
What all three share is a withering view of the modern world – a place resounding to the noise of traffic jams and mobile phones. And as they enjoy the peace of their weekly walks, weathering all that the elements and local characters can throw at them, they waste no time in setting that world to rights.
Why not join them?
Shaw's novel can be purchased from good bookshops, Breedon Books, and the usual online retailers including Amazon.
'The Watercress Girl' released on Region 1 DVD
The 1972 Granada TV drama The Watercress Girl, an installment of the
BAFTA-award winning Country Matters series, has been
released as part of a two-disc DVD set. Shot on 16mm film
entirely on location, The Watercress Girl utilises
many of the same Monsal Dale settings that were used five
years laters in the recording of Mad Dog - including the Monsal Viaduct, the rocky outcrop and the surroundings of Netherdale Farm.
The release, on the Koch Vision DVD label (licensed by Granada International) features eight of thirteeen episodes from the two series of Country Matters.
Disc one contains four series one episodes: Craven Arms, The Mill, The Sullen Sisters and The Watercress Girl. Disc two comprises four series two episodes: The Little Farm, The Black Dog, The Higgler and The Ring of Truth.
The release therefore omits the series one episodes Crippled Broom and Breeze Anstey and the series two episodes The Simple Life, An Aspidistra in Babylon, and The Four Beauties.
The transfer to DVD does not appear to have included any clean-up of the source video or film stock, so picture and sound quality remain serviceable rather than first-rate. The release is currently only available in Region 1 format (the North American default) - so in Europe (where Region 2 is the default) the discs can only be played on a Region 1 compatible (or multi-region) DVD player.
For more on The Watercress Girl, including the Monsal Dale locations used in the programme, see here. Find more details on the release from the Koch Vision site here.
Denis Lill on tour in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
Actor Denis Lill (Charles Vaughan) is currently on tour as
a member of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company in a production
of the classic whodunnit And Then There Were None.
Lill appears in the role of private investigator, and former
Scotland Yard detective, William Blore. The tour began in
February 2008 and continues until the autumn (with a summer
After a trip to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham in April,
the Survivors: Mad Dog editor can
confirm that this is a first-class production, brimming with
energy and a great deal of confident panache. Set and stage
design is excellent, and lighting and sound design are
both superb - together greatly enriching the atmosphere of isolation,
claustrophobia and mounting terror. The cast is uniformly strong, and - as would be expected - Lill equits himself with both skill and relish.
For fans of genre, cult and classic TV more generally, the cast is
also notable for the inclusion of Gerald Harper (as Sir Lawrence
Wargrave) from Adam Adamant Lives and Hadleigh; Peter Byrne (as General John Mackenzie) from Blake's
7 and Dixon of Dock Green; and Jennifer Wilson (as Emily Brent) from The Brothers.
The tour continues at locations across the UK until September 2008. For all of the dates on the tour, see The Stage's complete run sheet here.
Update, July 2008: Denis Lill leaves the
production after its run in Leeds. Lill's last performance
will be on Saturday July 12. When the play returns for its
September run, the role of William Blore will be taken by
Derren Nesbitt, see more details here.
Severn Valley Railway re-opens as flood repairs are completed - Mad Dog locations accessible again
Repairs to the line damage caused to the Severn Valley Railway
by flooding in June and July 2007 (see below) has now been completed.
On 21 March 2008, the line between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster
fully re-opened, meaning that the Mad Dog
(Hampton Loade), Bridgehead (Highley) and
Law of the Jungle (Country Park Halt) Survivors filming
locations are again accessible by rail.
Details of the 2008 Severn Valley Railway timetable can be
Donations to the appeal to raise funds to cover the substantial
repair costs can still be made online here.
First snow of 2008 at Monsal valley
The first snowfall of 2008, on the morning of 3 January,
brought a light covering of snow to the Monsal valley Mad
Dog locations, replicating very closely the recording
conditions experienced by the BBC crew back in January 1977.
Unsurprisingly (in bitterly-cold, early-morning, post-Xmas
holiday conditions) the valley was all-but unpopulated by
visitors, allowing some very effective and evocative photography
to be shot.
The view from the Monsal viaduct in the snow of 3 January
The view across the top of Monsal viaduct in the snow of 3
Mad Dog locations affected by flooding
The appaling weather experienced across the UK in June and
July 2007 has caused significant and widespread damage to
the rail line between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth on the
Severn Valley Steam railway — the location used to record the closing
sequences of Mad Dog (and featured in the
episodes Bridgehead and Law of the
Jungle). The SVR web site reports that, along the
line: "in no fewer than forty-five separate locations the
ground has slipped or moved."
This slippage is the inevitable result of such rentless rainfall
which saturates the ground beneath the track. The BBC reported
that: "the equivalent of two weeks rain fell along the Severn
Valley in the space of just thirty minutes in mid June, and
so it continued – day after day after day!" The result of the
downpour is that: "drainage channels have been blocked by
debris, and silt and mud have covered the tracks completely
Flood damage caused to the line near to Highley Station on the Severn Valley Railway, in June-July 2007.
More seriously, the SVR reports that: "in at least ten locations, the damage is such that external expertise and heavy plant and equipment will be required to enable our full service to recommence. At these places, we currently estimate that repair work will take many weeks. Repairs to this damage, including an additional major problem with land above the Railway at Northwood, are now estimated to require funds in excess of £2.5 million!"
"These problems are also delaying the opening of The Engine House, the new Visitor & Education Centre at Highley."
Remedial work is now underway, but the only section of the line operating in
August was between Kidderminster and Bewdley, with the remainder
of the line closed to rail traffic until further notice. This
means that Hampton Loade station (the principal Mad
Dog location on the line) is currently unreachable
The Severn Valley Railway has launched a Flood Damage Appeal
to help raise finds to bring the line fully back into service.
Learn more about the repair programme and donate to the appeal
New Monsal Dale conservation area established
A new Woodland Conservation Management area has recently been established in Monsal Dale by English Heritage.
As the Ravine WoodLIFE site explains, Monsal Dale has already been "designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)", as well as a "Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (1) and now forms part of a Europe wide network of over 14,000 high quality conservation sites called Natura 2000."
This new conservation status is intended to "protect and
enhance the internationally important wildlife habitats" throughout the valley.
One indication of the change is that the approach to the Monsal weir area is now marked by new fencing (with gated pedestrian access). The fencing is intended to limit grazing by the livestock which previously roamed freely throughout the valley and "allow trees and ground flora to regenerate". Other drystone walls in the valley are also to be repaired to control livestock movement. In addition: "hawthorn scrub over 60 acres of ground will be managed to enhance its wildlife value, with small glades being cleared through the scrub to provide ideal conditions for plants and butterflies."
To further encourage the resurgence of wildlife, a number
of sycamore trees have either been felled and left to rot
to create groundlevel "deadwood" habitats, or "ring
barked" to create "standing deadwood." This will "benefit
insect species such as the longhorn beetle together with bird
species like the treecreeper and bat species including the
As well as enhancing the local ecology of the valley, the
project will also serve to further protect the landscape of
the area. See more information on the project on the Ravine WoodLIFE site.
Monsal Viaduct — a ‘man made wonder’
The Monsal Dale viaduct — perhaps the most iconic of the Derbyshire locations used for the filming of Mad Dog — has been recognised as one of the Seven Man Made Wonders of the East Midlands, and has featured in a new BBC documentary of the same name. The winners of the competition were decided by public vote on an initial shortlist compiled by BBC researchers.
BBC regions across the UK hosted similar votes, with the winning entries in each of the nine regions featuring in parallel half-hour documentaries, all of which were broadcast at 18.15 on Sunday 12 February 2006.
Seven Man Made Wonders of the East Midlands was presented by Rajesh Mirchandani, and included segments recorded at Lincoln Cathedral, at Foxton Locks in Leicestershire, on the Fosse Way, at Chatsworth House, in the Lincolnshire village of Stamford, in the caves beneath Nottingham city centre — and in the Monsal valley.
The Monsal segment featured an appearance by former Labour Party
deputy leader Roy Hattersley, who was keen to celebrate the architectural
triumph that the viaduct represented at the time of its construction.
It also included interviews with a life-long train-enthusiast who,
with the help of his father, had photographed and filmed trains
using the rail line through Monsal over many years. Several of their
evocative home cine-movies of locomotives using the line were featured.
Also briefly interviewed were three retired train drivers, one of
whom spoke of the pleasure of driving trains along the line between
Bakewell and Buxton.
Filming for the documentary took place in autumn 2005 — with rain showers clearly visible in some of the Monsal footage.
More information about the Seven Man Made Wonders of the East Midlands can be found on the BBC web site.
Many thanks to Adrian Hulme for advance notice of the broadcast of this programme.
Top row centre: Roy Hattersley
discusses the Victorian ingenuity of the viaduct's designers
Bottom row centre: Retired train driver Charles
Meade recalls his work on the rail line through the Monsal
Don Shaw’s ‘The Hike’ — from strength to strength
Published, 6 April 2006
Publisher: Ebury Press
ISBN: 0091 908 75 2
Format: 256 pages, pback
Since it was originally published by Tideswell Press in September 2004, Mad
Dog script writer Don Shaw's first novel The Hike
has grown into a mainstream commercial and critical success.
optioned by Random House in the summer of 2005, the work has since
been re-issued under the publishing company's Ebury Press brand,
and is about to be re-released for a second time with a redesigned
cover (see right). Don Shaw confirmed in Febuary 2006 that: "The
Hike continues to do well — but will perform better still,
I hope, when the mass paperback comes out on 6 April." Work on the sequel is continuing.
When Shaw was initially looking for a publisher for The Hike
he hired the Publishing Services company to help him self-publish
the book (under the Tideswell Press imprint) as a means to secure
the interest of a major publisher in a first-time novel he was finding
it hard to win a contract for. The success of Shaw's strategy has
been documented in a free-to-download two-page feature article in
Forum magazine (.pdf format).
Having now enjoyed the opportunity of seeing his series three Survivors
episodes on DVD again (following DD Home Entertainment's release
of series three in November 2005), Shaw notes: "My daughter, Jane,
now 37, is delighted to show her friends her post-holocaust lifestyle
as a seven year old dirty-nosed little girl!"
Random House to republish 'The Hike' – sequel planned
Published, 2 Sept 2004
Publisher: Tideswell Press
ISBN: 0945 687 80 9
Format: 224 pages, pback
The first novel by Mad Dog scriptwriter Don Shaw, originally published by the small Derbyshire-based publishers Tideswell Press in 2004, is to be repackaged and republished this August by Random House – the world's largest publishing house.
Shaw revealed to Survivors: Mad Dog that inspiration for The Hike came directly from his own experiencing rambling in the Derbyshire Peak District: 'I've been hiking now every week for ten years with two friends who are retired. The Hike is a humorous account of our adventures, but it also touches upon questions like 'why are we here, and what are we doing?' There are resonances, overtones, from Survivors in a way, particularly in the sequel that I'm writing.'
The original version of The Hike was, Shaw explained 'self-published with the aid of a lady in London called Susanne McDadd who really knows her stuff' with the aim of attracting the interest of a major publisher. The front cover of the Tideswell Press edition features Don Shaw's own walking boots. 'My son came up with that idea. We pictured my boots with a ladder coming out of them and a businessman falling off — because the book is about “onedownmanship” as well. Ranulph Fiennes gave me a wonderful review quote to use on the cover.'
The new Random House cover will feature 'a quote from Edwina Currie from the Daily Express. She says “terrific, had me crying with laughter”', alongside cartoon illustrations of all three hikers: 'me; Phil who was in the Parachute Regiment; and Freddie, who hates hiking and who is dragged along.' Shaw is delighted that Random House is 'very excited about it, and very confident it's going to go into the top ten bestsellers' list.'
Shaw is now at work on the sequel to The Hike that Random House has commissioned him to write – although he doesn't expect the title to be published 'for another two years probably.' Shaw's daughter (who appeared briefly in Mad Dog as a young farm girl) has read the opening chapters of the sequel and suggested that 'there “are some tinges of darkness, some dark humour in this.” I can't help it! I'm there, plugging away at the great issues of life and death. I find it a great joy to do it in a humorous way.'
Shaw retains extremely positive memories of his time on Survivors. 'I did enjoy Survivors. It was a tremendous episode in my life.'
** More material from this interview with Don Shaw appears in the new Survivors book 'The End of the World?', published by Telos Publishing in Autumn 2005, and in the free to download publication 'The Making of Mad Dog', published in April 2006.
Mad Dog writer publishes new novel
Survivors' scriptwriter Don Shaw — who wrote the classic episodes Greater Love, Face of the Tiger, Mad Dog and Reunion — has just published his first novel, entitled The Hike. Shaw has been making a number of public appearances to promote the work — including a talk at the Bakewell Arts Festival on 11 August (close to Monsal Dale) and a book signing session at Derby Cathedral Bookshop on 25 September. The Hike is published by Tideswell Press and retails in paperback for £9.99.
The publisher describes the work as follows:
"The first book, by the creator of Dangerfield, The Hike combines three characters set in the mould of One Foot in the Grave (ie tetchy, opionionated, proud to be over sixty-five!) with lyric descriptions of the Peak District countryside and customs. Its gentle humour pervades even the darkest moments yet it is unsentimental in its depiction of rural life — as lived by inhabitants, not weekenders. Bill Bryson let loose on the Peak District? Gervaise Phinn?"
The book can be purchased, or ordered, from all highstreets bookstores, or bought on-line from the usual e-retailers.
Final Peak District prints more Mad Dog shots
The September 2004 issue of Peak District Magazine features full colour shots of the Monsal weir (see below) and of Thorpe Cloud (the hilltop above the Dovedale Gorge seen in the background of Fenton's half-way house). This will be the final issue of the magazine, which ceases publication after a run of more than seven years.
The weir in the heart of Monsal Dale
Monsal Dale makes Peak District front cover
The iconic image of the rocky outcrop in the Monsal valley — the location used
to stage the climatic horse chase in Mad Dog — is pictured
on the front cover of the July 2004 edition of Peak District Magazine
The shot is taken from the far riverbank near Netherdale Farm, and features the footbridge also seen in the episode as Charles flees from the farm outbuilding after he is discovered hiding there.
Peak District Magazine costs £1.60, and is available from larger newsagents across the Midlands area.
Click on the cover for a larger version
The Making of Mad Dog — coming soon!
Work on the forthcoming guide to The Making of Mad Dog
has been delayed, but should be complete in the next few weeks.
The guide — which will be made available as a free .pdf download
— will combine new interview testimony with episode director Tristan
de Vere Cole and lead actor Denis Lill (who discussed Mad Dog
off-camera during the recent series two DVD studio day in London
in early June) with all available background material on the shooting
of the season three classic. [Update: As Dangerous Dead As Alive: The Making of Survivors Mad Dog was published in April 2006, and is available for free download here.]
Series three on DVD? — It could be 2005!
Series two of Survivors will be released on DVD by DD Video on 04 October 2004. If sales of this second collection of episodes are good, DD Entertainment (previously DD Video) has the option to release the third and final series of Survivors on DVD — which, in all likelihood, would be in 2005. Everything will depend on the commercial success of the series two release... [Update: The third series of Survivors was released by DD Home Entertainment in November 2005, complete with a range of special features (including an audio commentary featuring director Tristan de Vere Cole and actor Morris Perry Perry [Richard Fenton]) on Mad Dog. More details are available from links on the home page here.]