Terry Molloy (John Redgrave)

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Updated: January 07 2017 13:21


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

As the veneer of professional 'authority spokesperson' is stripped away from Redgrave, his innate and basic concern for humanity is allowed room to flower

INTERVIEW series onr

When the call came in from Big Finish, how familiar were you with Survivors? Was it a show you have any memories of?

Yes, I do remember the original screening in 1975, especially that opening sequence from the dropping of the virus flask and all the passport entry stamps in to countries around the world

I saw most of the original series, but never saw the remake or revisited any before recording the Big Finish episodes

In the original series, the pandemic unfolds entirely from the perspectives of individual survivors, so the TV audience had no real sense of the authorities' forlorn efforts to manage the crisis. Your character John Redgrave, a senior civil servant, is therefore unique in the history of the show. How does it feel to have played the one remaining voice of authority left alive in Britain?

I think the original was judged perfectly in terms of how the story unfolded, and the lack of any specific thread showing the authorities unable to cope or to make decisions on the hoof due to the speed of the infection gave the show an immediacy and a real sense of the danger and bewilderment for us as individuals in such a situation. Having John Redgrave as a 'voice of authority' in the Big Finish series was, I believe, very finely judged as it enabled us to view, through a small window, the authorities initial knee jerk response and from there to paint the audio landscape of the collapse of our society.

Producer David Richardson made very clear that my character was not one of the 'survivors'

Terry Molloy

Presumably you were aware when you signed-up that your character’s lifespan would, sadly, be very short!

I was indeed! Producer David Richardson made very clear that I was not one of the 'survivors'. I'm very used to dying in Big Finish productions and quite relished the chance at another lingering and potentially violent death. So long as I always rise again to have another bite at the apple of life elsewhere!

In his work on Doctor Who, on Survivors and in other shows, Terry Nation often seems to have a pretty harsh view of the motivations of those in positions of power. Would you say that John Redgrave is an exception to that rule: an official who is a decent and essentially moral human being?

I think we are all fairly jaded in our opinion of those in positions of power (especially these days), and yet there are many decent people who daily find themselves having to implement unpalatable decisions handed down from those on high. I would count John Redgrave as one of those.

Did director Ken Bentley or script editor Matt Fitton give you any guidance on what they saw made Redgrave tick?

No, Ken and Matt have a great faith in the actors they choose (foolish boys!) to take the script and let the character emerge from the story as it has been presented on the page.

How easy was it to find Redgrave's 'voice'? He has a perfectly-suited quite, precise and considered way of expressing himself. It's expertly judged, if I may say?

Thank you so much for your appraisal of how I played John Redgrave. In a well-written script, the character jumps out of the page at you and begins to form in your mind's eye as you first read it through. My immediate impression was of a quiet man with an inner conflict burning between the structured, ordered and directed life he had always known, and the new horizon he is beginning to spy where all safety nets have been removed and the old order no longer has influence.

My immediate impression of John Redgrave was of a quiet man with a burning inner conflict

Terry Molloy

The connection between Redgrave and Maddie Price, played by Chase Masterson, develops quickly in the nightmarish conditions of the quarantine at the airport. Although they are forced together by circumstance, they do seem to have some sort of affinity with or empathy for each other and their shared predicament.

I think as the veneer of professional 'authority spokesperson' is stripped away from Redgrave, his innate and basic concern for humanity is allowed room to flower and it is this recognised common humanity between himself and Maddie that binds the two of them together.

As he comes to realise that his 'mission' is in ruins, Redgrave's entire world comes apart. Given what we know about his background, the personal loss that this represents would have to have been pretty devastating for him?

Anyone who has spent so much of their life committed to an ordered, specific path and outlook on the world as Redgrave has would undoubtedly find the plunge into a world of chaos and uncertainty a most painful transition as he tried to make sense of events around him and re-assess his place in this new order.

As he falls ill, do you think that Redgrave would have thought his number was up? Was he resigned to whatever fate might serve up? Price certainly seemed determined to try to save him.

I believe Redgrave would have had no illusions about his ultimate fate once he realised how ill he was becoming and he would probably have been rather sanguine about it, having done the duty that was demanded of him yet been overwhelmed by the events.

Survivors is a very different sort of drama from Big Finish’s more traditional 'fantasy' fare – fewer spaceships, less time-travel and more ordinary human beings in extremis. Did that make it feel more like working on a 'straight drama' than a work of science fiction?

Whether set on a Tardis or inside the mind of a dragon, in some dystopian future or on a railway station platform in 1930s Britain... any story that deals with and explores the interaction of well-drawn characters in a clear and honest way is 'straight drama'! The suspension of disbelief is the same in whichever genre you work.

Did the director offer you any suggestions on how to hit the right tone, making the most of the series' dramatic setting without things becoming too grim or depressing?

No! The script should (and did) do that. The director can help to signpost the tone and feel of the production during the recording should it appear to be going off course.

Audio work has been key to my career and the medium I most enjoy working in

Terry Molloy

What was the recording process like? Months of intensive rehearsals ahead of weeks in the studio!?

Of course! And each day filled with fun, jollity, witty conversation, and intense discussion of course, plus Toby’s wonderful lunches! As if! We get between a day and two days to record an episode on a rehearse/record basis. Sadly sometimes the recording gets in the way of our fun, jollity, witty conversation, and intense discussion of course, plus Toby's wonderful lunches!

Is the immediacy and simplicity of audio drama an attractive thing for an actor?

For me it has been a key to my career and the medium I most enjoy working in. For an actor you are never prescribed by what you look like or even how old you are if you are capable of the vocal range required. And, like an accomplished artist on canvas, you are in the business of creating full and vibrant landscapes and emotions within the listener’s mind. That is certainly the greatest satisfaction to me.

Some people say that the core premise of Survivors is as pertinent today, if not more relevant, than it was in the 1970s? What's your view?

Society is a fragile thing based on common acceptance of certain rules and codes of conduct. When those codes and rules disappear or are destroyed as a result of some global disaster, we are simply weeks away from chaos and darkness as the chain that supplies our daily comforts breaks down. That is no more or less relevant today than when it was mooted in 1975.

If some terrible calamity was to overwhelm the world, and you found yourselves amongst the survivors for real, how well would you be equipped to survive? Do you have survival skills; would you have the resilience?

I don't know. I don't think any of us really know how we would behave or survive or exist until we are actually faced with that reality!

 

Big Finish - Survivors - series one - cast: Terry Molloy and Caroline Langrishe

 


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The ninth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

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"There's still great potential here, as the UK begins to emerge from the dark ages of The Death, for more stories set in this uniquely realised dystopia, should sufficient numbers of those who have yet to purchase copies of this extraordinary audio series belatedly recognise the error of their ways. If that doesn't happen, this will remain a stunning finale for what must be celebrated as a consistently compelling audio drama, 5/5"
Cultbox

Survivors: series eight

The eight series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series eight

"This latest boxset delivers an impressive mix of large scale, high stakes and small scale, intimate stories which set in motion the events which will come to an explosive conclusion in the final set in this current run of post-apocalyptic dramas, 5/5 " - Cultbox

Survivors: series seven

The seventh series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series seven

"At times harrowing, at other moments uplifting, and never anything other than completely riveting listening, this latest series of Survivors audios delivers drama that is simply unmissable. As the series leaves behind the timeline of the TV incarnation of the show, Big Finish's writers, cast and crew are all clearly brimming with fully deserved confidence. The two series of new Survivors audios coming in 2018 could scarcely be a more exciting or (in the best sense of the word) a more unpredictable prospect, 10/10" - Starburst

Survivors: series six

The sixth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series six

"After five extraordinarily well-received box sets, each of which offered a self-contained and themed collection of four episodes, the sixth series of Survivors audio adventures confidently takes a fresh approach... It's a liberating shift in format and, under the keenly judged direction of Ken Bentley, these scripts make exceptional use of the opportunity to tell diverse, if equally compelling, standalone stories, 10/10" - Starburst

Survivors: series five

The fifth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series five - cover  

"As it explores the highest stakes possible, this develops into the most thrilling and compelling set of stories in Big Finish's Survivors series to date: which, considering the exceptional quality of the drama in the preceding four instalments, is quite some achievement. This is extraordinary, exemplary human drama; by any standard, 10/10" - Starburst

Survivors: series four

The fourth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series four - cover  

"Intelligent, literate and superbly scripted and performed, this is a post-apocalyptic drama of the highest possible calibre. Determined to avoid the predictable tropes of that genre, it invites its listeners to navigate a moral minefield in a way that few other dramas of this type would attempt. This comes recommended without reservation" - Starburst

Survivors: series three

The third series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series three - cover detail

Survivors: series two

The second series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series two - cover detail

Survivors: audio-book

A full-length audiobook of Terry Nation's Survivors novel (in CD and download formats) read by Carolyn Seymour.

Survivors: series one

The first series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

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)