Hampton Court, Herefordshire to reopen to visitors

Hampton Court - Herefordshire

HAMPTON COURT IN Herefordshire, the main filming location for the last seven episodes of the first series of Survivors and a regular travel destination for fans of the show, re-opens to visitors on Wednesday 8 July 2020.

Hampton Court estate has been closed to public access during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions that were imposed towards the end of March. Lockdown meant that the estate remained shut even as its usual April opening date passed.

From 8 July, the estate will again open to visitors (from Wednesday to Sunday each week).

Details of exactly which facilities and services will be available, and what social distancing arrangements will be in place, are to be published shortly.

New study of performance and production in Survivors

A NEW BOOK which examines the way in which actors perform in television drama, and the way in which their performance is captured by the camera, uses Survivors as one of its illuminating case studies.

In The Changing Spaces of Television Acting: From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama, author and researcher Richard Hewett scrutines the craft of actors and performers working on The Quatermass Experiment, Doctor Who and Survivors.

He looks at the interplay between custom and practice, acting theory, evolving technology and other factors in shaping how performance for television is realised. Hewett pays particular attention to the distinction between studio and ‘on location’ production, exploring the influence that ‘place’ exerts on the way that a story is translated from page to screen.

Hewett’s book builds on the research that he undertook for the doctoral thesis, and an academic journal article that he published as one of the outputs of his research findings. Yet it’s clear that the aim of the book is to reach a non-academic as well as an academic audience.

For those interested in the history of British television production, there’s a great deal in Hewett’s book to capture the attention.

Enthusiasts with a particular interest in Survivors will be able to enjoy some fascinating and original reflections on the making of the show, informed by new interviews with cast members (including Lucy Fleming and Denis Lill and Roger Lloyd-Pack), and illustrated with numerous screencaptures from different episodes of the show.

In a Q&A with publishers Manchester University Press, Hewett explains that he enjoyed “every aspect of writing the book, from re-viewing the case studies to poring over archive documents.” He suggests that conducting interviews was the most satisfying part. “It was fascinating to have my theories challenged by the practitioners who originally worked on my case studies,” he says – people who were on set at the time and who were able to offer “their own unique perspectives.”

This book provides a historical overview and then-and-now comparison of performing for British television drama. By examining changing acting styles from distinct eras of television production – studio realism and location realism – it makes a unique contribution to both television and performance studies, unpacking the various determinants that have combined to influence how performers work in the medium. The book compares the original versions of The Quatermass Experiment (BBC, 1953), Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89) and Survivors (BBC, 1975-77) with their respective modern-day re-makes, unpacking the effects of the shift from multi-camera studio to single-camera location production. Textual analysis is combined with extensive archival research into production process and reception, alongside interviews with numerous actors and production personnel from more than sixty years of television production.

Richard Hewett. 2020. The Changing Spaces of Television Acting: From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama. Manchester: Manchester University Press, ISBN 9781526148636.

Original series discussed in Guardian article on Survivors remake

“I COULDN’T WATCH that first season again. It’s too harrowing,” says Adrian Hodges of the remake of Survivors shown on BBC One in 2008. “It’s so close to what we’re going through now.”

In an interview in the Guardian, with genre journalist Steve O’Brien, Hodges looks back at the reception and impact of his remake of Terry Nation’s classic 1970s’ original tale of post-apocalyptic survival.

Illustrated with one of the familiar publicity shots of the original three series’ leads from third episode Gone Away, a short section of the article compares the revival with the original.

In doing so, O’Brien only commits three of the regular journalistic faux pas documented in How to annoy a Survivors fan.

When it’s suggested that, in depicting the impact of a global pandemic on screen more than ten years in advance of its real-world arrival, Hodges should be seen as a “prophet”, he disagrees. “I don’t think I am,” Hodges tells O’Brien. “It’s Terry Nation who should be called that.” 

Steve O’Brien. 2020. “‘I couldn’t watch it now’: Survivors was the pandemic drama years ahead of its time”, Guardian, 26 May. https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/may/26/i-couldnt-watch-it-now-survivors-was-the-pandemic-drama-years-ahead-of-its-time

Lucy Fleming reads ‘Posting’ letter on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

An behind-the-scenes in-studio image from the Today programme on BBC Radio 4

LUCY FLEMING READ an extract from a letter that her mother Celia Johnson sent to her father Peter Fleming just after VE Day on BBC Radio 4’s flagship news progamme Today this morning (4 May 2020).

The Today show is featuring a number of different readings this week, as part of the wider BBC shedule of event to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

Fleming appears towards the end of the programme (at around the 2hrs 50m mark). Listeners in the UK can stream or download the programme from the BBC Sounds service. Today’s edition will be available to access until 3 June 2020.

Fleming and her husband Simon Williams have been touring the spoken-word production of Posting Letters to the Moon, which is based on the wartime correspondence between her mother and father.

An additional run of planned performances of Posting Letters to the Moon has had to be postponed as a result of the current Covid-19 closedown, but it is hoped that dates later in the year will go ahead as scheduled.

Entertainment Focus enjoys a full rewatch of Survivors

Portraits of Abby Grant, Tom Price, Greg Preston, Charles Vaughan, Jenny Richards and Arthur Russell by artists Tom Bailey - illustrating the critical rewatch of Survivors by Entertainment Focus
Portraits of Abby Grant, Tom Price, Greg Preston, Charles Vaughan, Jenny Richards and Arthur Russell by artist Tom Bailey

TWO JOURNALISTS FROM Entertainment Focus have recently been enjoying a full rewatch of all 38 episodes of Survivors from all three series of the show, and sharing their thoughts, criticisms and observations in a series of linked articles in the online magazine.

Good-humoured, interesting, sometimes contentious, but usually well-informed, Greg Jameson and Samuel Payne began their journey with The Fourth Horseman several weeks ago and are working their way right through to Power.

The five linked articles published so far take the form of a conversation between the two. As you track their critical rewatch through each of the three series, you’ll find yourself nodding in vigorous agreement at some points, and shaking your head in disbelief at others – but then that’s a key part of the fun in hearing someone else’s perspective on what might well be your favourite TV show.

As well as screen-shots from different episodes, the series includes an original artwork by Tom Bailey – which presents six portrait caricatures of Abby Grant, Tom Price, Greg Preston, Charles Vaughan, Jenny Richards and Arthur Russell (see above).

Series one

Series two

Series three

Portraits of Sam, the Laird, Alec, Agnes, Brod and Hubert from series three of Survivors by artist Tom Bailey

Survivors ‘reaction videos’

There’s a different perspective on the early episodes of Survivors‘ first series in the form of a new set of ‘reaction videos’ available on YouTube. ‘Reaction videos’ are now a common format of fan participation on the platform. In them, fans video their reactions to watching film and TV shows, so the viewer sees their responses to the drama as it unfolds on-screen.

YouTuber medusa cascade produces ‘reaction videos’ exploring a variety of sci-fi, cult and TV shows, and has uploaded her responses to the first nine episodes of series one of Survivors. Each video is a 10-15 minute edit of the highlights of each episode view. Medusa Cascade is new to Survivors so her reactions are those of a first time viewer – and she has a particularly intense and emotional reaction to seeing Law and Order for the first time.

Carolyn Seymour joins New Counter-Measures audios

Carolyn Seymour and the New Counter Measures team at the Big Finish studios
Carolyn Seymour and the New Counter Measures team at the Big Finish studios

CAROLYN SEYMOUR RETURNS to the world of Big Finish audios, in two adventures from The New Counter-Measures series that have just been released.

These two instalments were recorded back in June 2019, several months after the completion of Seymour’s work on the ninth and final series of Survivors audio box sets.

Seymour reprises the role of Lady Suzanne Clare, the Counter-Measures team’s recurring nemesis. Clare is a scheming and ruthless arms-dealer and trader in alien technology, who’s possessed of both cunning and charm.

Clare’s schemes lead her to become entangled with both the Movellans and the Daleks, and to become a (somewhat untrustworthy) associate of the Counter-Measures group.

Seymour’s character appears in both of the new stories, which bring to an end the current run of The New Counter-Measures audio adventures. The cast also includes Simon Williams, husband of Lucy Fleming, who plays the role of Group Captain Gilmore.

My reviews of The New Counter-Measures: The Movellan Manoeuvre and The New Counter-Measures: The Dalek Gambit have been published on Cultbox today.

Carolyn Seymour, The New Counter Measures Team, Nicholas Briggs and Cyril Nri
Carolyn Seymour, The New Counter Measures Team, Nicholas Briggs and Cyril Nri
The New Counter-Measures: The Dalek Gambit cover

Roger Marshall, scriptwriter of Survivors episode “Parasites”, has died

Roger Marshall

ROGER MARSHALL, THE well-respected genre TV scriptwriter, who penned the series two Survivors episode “Parasites” has died at the age of 86.

Born in Leicester in 1934, Marshall began a career in television after graduating from Cambridge University. He quickly found his niche as a prolific scriptwriter, and would go on to write scripts for The Avengers, The Sweeney, The Professionals, Lovejoy, London’s Burning and many other TV series from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Marshall co-created the 1974 series Zodiac (which starred Anton Rogers); and the 1984 show Mitch (in which John Thaw took the lead). He also created the 1984-85 canal-barge-set crime drama The Travelling Man. However, his most widely-respected creator credit comes from his work on the down-at-heel private eye drama Public Eye (1965-75), which he co-created with Anthony Marriott, in which Alfred Burke starred.

Marshall also wrote the film scripts for the Amicus productions What Became of Jack & Jill (1972) and And Now The Screaming Starts (1973).

Survivors producer Terry Dudley recruited Marshall to write a single script for the second series. The result was the highly-regarded “Parasites”, a tale of crime, deception and murder, which sees the Whitecross community threatened by an escaped prisoner and his partner-in-crime a former prison warder. The episode is also distinguished by an all-too-brief guest starring appearance from Patrick Troughton (the second actor to play the part of The Doctor in Doctor Who).

Although his script for “Parasites” was one of the highlights of the second series, and translated to the screen extremely effectively, Marshall did not particularly enjoy the experience of working on Survivors. “It was a messy production,” he told Action TV magazine when he recalled his efforts in 2005, “but memorable for me in that I got to write about barges for the first time.”

As part of his research for “Parasites”, Marshall spent time learning the mechanics of canal travel at the Stoke Bruerne Barge Museum near Towcester. It was knowledge that he later put to good use in framing the premise of The Travelling Man.

Marshall was not invited to contribute any scripts to the third and final series of Survivors, but does not appear to have expressed interest in doing so.

Marshall, who had been suffering with Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia for some time, died on 1 April 2020.

Carolyn Seymour to appear at Nottingham’s EM-Con, 1-2 May 2021

https://nottingham.em-con.co.uk/guest/carolyn-seymour/

CAROLYN SEYMOUR WILL be a guest at both days of the upcoming Nottingham EM-Con 2021 convention, being held at the city’s Motorpoint Arena on 1-2 May 2021.

Seymour will be offering both autographs and ‘photoshoot’ opportunities for visiting fans, both of which can be booked in advance.

We’re happy to welcome Carolyn Seymour to our guest line up for EM-Con Nottingham. Carolyn has many credits to her name, most notably are the ones in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Voyager. Others include roles in Quantum Leap, Space 1999 and many others. Gamers will know that more recently Carolyn voiced the roles of Queen Myrrah in Gears of War, and Dr Chakwas in Mass Effect.

While none of the convention’s promotional material mentions Seymour’s involvement with Survivors, the event is a great opportunity for fans of the series to meet up with Carolyn face-to-face.

Almost thirty convention guests have been confirmed by the EM-Con team so far, including Blake Harrison (Inbetweeners), Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones), Norman Lovett (Red Dwarf) and John Ross Bowie (Big Bang Theory). Other names will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets for the show, which are available in ‘General Admission’ format along with four ‘added feature’ bands (Bronze to Platinum), can now be purchased online from the EM-Con site.

EM-Con 2021 Nottingham
Motorpoint Arena, Bolero Square, Nottingham NG1 1LA 11
1-2 May 2021.

Note: This event was originally scheduled for 2-3 May 2020, and then rescheduled to 18-19 July 2020, before being rescheduled again to 1-2 May 2021.

Celebration of Big Finish’s Survivors audios in new Divergent Wordsmiths eBook

A NEW eBOOK published today by the Divergent Wordsmiths team, celebrating twenty years of creative audio work by Big Finish, includes a chapter on the company’s acclaimed nine series of original Survivors adventures.

Written by Rich Cross, the editor of the Survivors: A World Away site, the short chapter recounts the development, release and reception of the 36 new Survivors audio dramas released between 2013 and 2019.

Other chapters in the book focus on Big Finish’s Torchwood, Doctor Who and other related releases.

The Meaning of Big Finish, edited by Alan Camlann is completely free to download from the Divergent Wordsmiths site.

Alan Camlann (ed). 2019. The Meaning of Big Finish. Divergent Wordsmiths.

Divergent Wordsmiths - The Meaning of Big Finish - front cover
Divergent Wordsmiths - The Meaning of Big Finish - Table of Contents
Divergent Wordsmiths - The Meaning of Big Finish - extract from Survivors chapter

Denis Lill on tour in The Lady Vanishes

Poster for the 2019 national theatre tour of The Lady Vanishes, which features Survivors actor Denis Lill in the cast

DENIS LILL IS out and about “treading the boards” once more in a national touring production of The Lady Vanishes, a new adaptation of the classic 1938 Alfred Hitchcock big-screen thriller. Very appropriately, this latest live version has been brought to the stage by the Classic Thriller Theatre Company.

Lill plays the role of Charters, one of a pair of cricket enthusiasts sharing the ill-fated train journey through the country of Bandrika. The play has been commissioned by the Bill Kenwright company, responsible for numerous touring theatre shows within the UK. Lill has been a cast member on many previous productions, including a number of the Agatha Christie plays for which the firm is especially well regarded.

The tour began in Swindon in early September, and has moved on to runs in Weston-Super-Mare, Bury St Edmunds, Coventry, Cambridge, Derby and Darlington. The tour continues with runs at Horton, Exeter, Brighton, Yeovil, Torquay and Croydon, and concludes in Eastbourne in early December.

A review in the Teesdale Mercury by Arts Critic Andrew Mercury offers a very positive assessment:

Cricket loving Charters, Denis Lill, and Caldicott, Ben Nealon […] bring a touch of comedy to the proceedings and show we perhaps have not changed that much as the Englishman abroad.

The set (Morgan Large) effortlessly transforms from the station to the interior of the train and back again. The atmosphere is enhanced with subtle lighting (Charlie Morgan Jones) and sound (Dan Samson). Direction by Roy Marsden is slick throughout.

The intrigue and suspense of The Lady Vanishes will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow the twists and turns trying to spot the red herrings.

This new production is directed by Bill Kenwright regular Roy Marsden (who appeared as a cast member in the third series of Survivors back in 1977 as The Captain in “Long Live the King”).

For full information on dates and locations, and to buy tickets online, visit the The Lady Vanishes site.

A publicity shot of Denis Lill in the 2019 touring production of The Lady Vanishes
Charters (Denis Lill) and Caldicott (Ben Nealon) in The Lady Vanishes
The cast of the 2019 national touring production of The Lady Vanishes
A production still of the full cast of the new production of The Lady Vanishes (Lill, right)
A publicity shot for the 2019 touring production of The Lady Vanishes, which features Denis Lill in the cast
Iris (Scarlett Archer, left), Ms Froy (Gwen Taylor), Charters (Denis Lill) and Caldicott (Ben Nealon) in a scene from The Lady Vanishes