Donna Berlin (Pearl Ironsmith)

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Updated: April 05 2017 22:31


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

She's the kind of person who will deal with whatever is thrown at her in the best possible way. And if this means that she has to have a life on her own, then she won't complain

INTERVIEW series five

Would you say you're a bit of a Big Finish regular?

Yes, I have been! I've played humans, robots, human robots, aliens. All sorts of things. That's the part I love about Big Finish. I wouldn't get to play those sorts of parts otherwise.

But this is your first connection with the world of Big Finish's Survivors. This is much more grounded, much more serious, much less 'fantastical' drama. So, this is quite a contrast then?

It is my first one. So, getting the script, I was looking through thinking 'when do the aliens land', and 'I operate the computer where'? And it didn't happen! But, no, it's great.

Are you able to bring any knowledge of the original Survivors TV series?

My parents remembered the original Survivors. With affection, rather than dread! I think I saw the re-runs later. I can't remember when that would have been. It did frighten me a bit. It was scary.

When you learnt that you would be working on the series, did you go and look at the original TV episodes again; or did you choose not to do that?

My approach was to find out who Pearl is, and what her background was, and how she fits in with everything

Donna Berlin

I deliberately didn't do that. Because I think I do have stuff in memory, and any other things I need I'll get from the other actors around me, or from the director. My approach was to find out who Pearl is, and what her background was, and how she fits in with everything. As soon as I get behind the microphone, she'll emerge and develop.

Can you say a little more about the character of Pearl Ironsmith?

Like myself, she's of Caribbean parentage. She taught history in the UK. She's very driven. But she's also very multi-layered. I'd like to get some little elements of that in. But she seems like a bit of a loner. I don't think it’s by choice. And, of course, she has a great fondness for Greg!

What's her pre-occupation as this story gets underway?

She's trying to hunker down and get on with life and not get infected. She's taken it upon herself to go and to try to get this generator working; and that seems to be her life's purpose, at the moment. It's just to get electricity to the town of Westonby. She's like a one-woman band!

She's the kind of person who will deal with whatever is thrown at her in the best possible way. And if this means that she has to have a life on her own, then she will do the best she can with it and she won't complain. She'll roll up her sleeves and she'll get on with it.

Has Ken Bentley directed you before in any Big Finish story you've done?

No, this will be my first time working with Ken. So, that will be nice. I've tried several different ways with several different strains of accents, just to try to give a little lilt, to reference her Caribbean heritage.

But she's not a very chit-chatty, gossipy type of person. She's lived on her own for a bit, I think. So, she's quite used to her own company. That and her best friend: the generator!

Her interest in Greg does suggest that she has an emotional side.

She had a chance meeting with Greg, quite a few years ago, and I think it got her heart a'flutter

Donna Berlin

She had a chance meeting with Greg, quite a few years ago, and I think it got her heart a'flutter. But nothing was ever done, or said. So I think what happens when you're in a long time of solitude, you go back and you think about things. I think she probably had quite a few moments of thinking 'I wonder what happened to him? I think he was lovely. Oh, well. Never mind.' But, just to shorten her days a little bit, she'll go back in her memory.

So, having him now in front of her several years later, I think she discovers her slight 'girlie' side again, for a moment. And she has to backtrack and check herself. But she's definitely, definitely got the hots for Greg, still!

She sounds quite selfless, as well? She's on a mission to help others, to help the town.

The town hasn't had electricity for a number of years. She knows it's possible. She's in the best place to get everything done. She's got all of the equipment around her. Because she’s been a teacher for many years, she's very much into helping others, giving and nurturing. Reconnecting the electricity supply would be her legacy, her gift to others.

Triumph in her quest would be a huge thing for her. Every time that they turn on a light switch everyone in that community would think of Pearl.

 

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Latest updates

 

Series nine reviews added

Added: 13 July 2019

 

Series eight reviews added

Added: 9 January 2019

 

Series seven reviews added

Added: 14 January 2018

 

Series six reviews added

Added: 12 July 2017

 

Series five reviews added

Added: 20 December 2016

 

Series four reviews added

Added: 26 June 2016

 

Series three reviews added

Added: 18 December 2015

 

New interviews added

Added: 21 November 2015

 

Links

Original TV series (1975-1977)
Survivors remake (2008-2010)