Paul Thornley (John ['Vinnie'] Vincent)

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Updated: December 04 2015 19:07


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

I think it takes an awful long time to evolve democracy and rule of law – as we are still seeing all over the world

INTERVIEW series three

The world of Survivors is a pretty tough and unforgiving place. Somewhere that suits the character of Vinnie pretty well then?

It's a bit of a brutal thought – but, unfortunately, I imagine that the people that did survive 'the end of the world' would find themselves in a Lord of the Flies type scenario. Stability is a very, very difficult thing, and takes an awful long time to establish; and there is an awful lot of pain and suffering to get there. So, unfortunately, I do feel that there would be 'Vinnies' that would come to some sort of power, for a while.

Even today, you read these surveys in the news showing a vast percentage of the population who think we should bring back executions and capital punishment. People's knee-jerk reactions to things are fairly terrifying.

Could you say a little bit about the character of Vinnie?

I do feel that there would be 'Vinnies' that would come to some sort of power

Paul Thornley

He's a lovely chap! You'd want to go on holiday with him [Laughs]. The truth of it is that Vinnie is absolutely fuelled by rage and hatred. But he justifies that with this warped moral code.

He is racist; he is homophobic. Before The Death, he was a football hooligan. His dad had died some disease that he caught abroad as a sailor. He's made this link that that's because it's the fault of foreigners. It's all about that. And, for him, that's become a mantra: "foreigners equal disease". And obviously the plague is the worst of all diseases. So, to Vinnie, it's very obvious: "If we keep it as us, then we'll be fine. Protect your own."

There is a revealing speech in episode two, where Vinnie talks about his dad. It does give you a better understanding of how he has become the way he has become. He is not a blanket "nutter", there is a humanity about him. And that is what is always so scary about any fundamentalist of any denomination – that we blanket them as though "they're just nutters". There is something that has led all these people to behave in the way that they behave. And that's what's fascinating. It doesn't mean that you have to condone it, but the question of how someone ended up like that - that's what we need to find out.

Is there anyone who moderates Vinnie; who will challenge his rage and his indignance? Or is he a man who is just unfettered?

He thinks of himself as a 'great thinker', and as an astute mind. He sees Abby as the same. He sees something in her, and he can't quite understand why she can't see it in him. "The two of us – we could be great together!" - he reckons. So I think he cherry picks certain people who he perceives as on something approaching an equal footing to him – not his equal, but not that far beneath him.

It's always said that the villains are the best characters to play. Listening to the performances today, the conflicts being played out in this story sound fantastic. Is Vinnie as much fun to play as he sounds?

Oh, I mean – it's great. Yeah, it's great. Getting to play extremes – you don't get to do that very often. The British always hold things back, hold things in. Whereas good old Vinnie lets it all out.

I love doing any kind of audio work in those Big Finish recording booths. There is no specific thing that I prefer, I just like doing good work, and good characters and things that you can get your teeth into.

Vinnie thinks of himself as a 'great thinker', and as an astute mind

Paul Thornley

Some of the language that Vinnie uses is pretty shocking - some of his epithets and his abusive terms. How carefully did you have to judge how far you could go with the words coming out of Vinnie's mouth?

If you watch something like EastEnders and there's two people having a blazing row they'll be calling each other "toe-rags". And it just breaks the credibility of the scene. It takes you out of the action, because you then become acutely aware that people are being censored. While I in no way condone Vinnie's type of language in everyday use, it is important in this story for people to get the full extent of what this character is about, and the realism of it. And it's very clear that he's not a nice chap. We're not condoning his attitudes or behaviour, but I feel that it's important to be true to the nature of Vinnie. I've been approaching it by thinking: "What would Vinnie say in that situation?", and trying to be true to that idea.

What picture do you think Vinnie has of himself and of his behaviour?

I think he would say that his way is a means to an end. I think that, at the point we meet him, he's feeling quite good about life. This was what he was born to do, he thinks, and he's doing it. Beforehand, being part of a football firm and winning a few fights – that was one thing. But this - this is on a different scale. For Vinnie, this is great.

Has Vinnie got any survival skills? He's got the strength, the clarity of vision – but is he a practical fella? Can he grow stuff, can he make stuff, can he build stuff? As a survivor, if he wasn't bossing everybody about, would he be a useful fellow to have around?

Definitely. People listen to him. But I think he'd rather tell other people what to do than do it himself. But I think – yeah, he's a more than capable survivor.

 

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Latest updates

 

Series nine reviews added

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Series five reviews added

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Series three reviews added

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Links

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