THE NINTH AND concluding series of full-cast original Survivors audios has been released by Big Finish today.
The fourth episode final series is available to buy (in both CD and download formats) from the Big Finish website.
To celebrate the nine series’ achievement, Big Finish are offering discounts on several of the earlier series – with series one available from £8.99 (download) and £9.99 (CD); series two to six available for £12.49 (download) and £14.99 (CD); and the Survivors audiobook (voiced by Carolyn Seymour) available for £7.99 (download) and £9.99 (CD).
These offers are in place until 23:59 (UK time) on 1 July 2019. To take advantage of these discounts, visit the Survivors – The End?discount page on the Big Finish site and enter the code JENNY.
IN THE LATEST issue of Big Finish’s free-to-download full-colour magazine Vortex, the Bookclub feature turns the clock back to June 2014 and revisits the release of the first series boxset of original Survivors audios.
As a selected Bookclub title, the first four episodes of Survivors are currently (June 2019) on offer to purchase as a digital download for the reduced price of £9.99. Follow the link in Vortex to take advantage of the offer, and head over to The Big Finish Bookclub group on Facebook to join the discussion.
THE NETWORK ON AIR site has published a well-crafted appreciation of the screen career of Sydney Tafler, an actor who memorably appeared as Manny, the morally-dubious settlement leader, in the well-regarded two-part series two Survivors story Lights of London.
In the modern world of drama production, it is commonplace for actors to move back and forward between cinema and TV work in a ‘blended’ screen career. But in the 1970s, fewer British actors regularly traversed the demarcation separating a film from a television identity. Some actors known mainly for television (including the series’ leads of Survivors) made irregular film appearances, but far fewer flitted seamlessly between the two screen worlds.
For an actor with big-screen credentials like Tafler’s to be contracted for a guest role in a BBC serial like Survivors was not something that all of his contemporaries would have thanked their agents for arranging.
Tafler however had bridged the large-and-small screen divide from the earliest days of his career, which began with stage appearances in the 1930s after he graduated from RADA. As he established himself over the following years, he would mix appearances in TV shows such as Dixon of Dock Green,Hadleigh and The Gentle Killers with roles in movies such as The Counterfeit Plan, The Bulldog Breed and Sink the Bismarck! amongst numerous others.
He was a prolific performer, although he was usually rewarded with relatively minor or supporting roles. Film historian Andrew Roberts revisits Tafler’s winning performances in classic films such as The Lavender Hill Mob, It Always Rains on Sunday,Too Many Crooks and Mystery Junction, celebrating his talents as the consumate character actor.
Roberts notes how Tafler frequently outshone the quality of the screenplays he was given and how he was able to “save films that could be fairly described as ‘Worst of British’.” Regardless of the source material, Tafler could be relied upon to delivered performances that were committed, believable and layered.
Tafler’s portrayal of the chancer Manny in Lights of London reveals just that sort of approach to a role, which sees him becoming a commanding on-screen presence, and a credible and unnerving villain, without overshadowing the series’ regulars with whom he shares the story.
Inhabiting the role of Manny was not a particular stretch for Tafler. The character of the “Cockney spiv who comes to a bad end” was one that he had played, in different variants, several times in his career – although the stakes in Lights of London (which the characters believe could be the fate of the human race itself) are significantly higher than in most of Tafler’s earlier crime capers, comedies and thrillers.
In fact, when Lights of London I director Terence Williams first read Jack Ronder’s script for the episode and considered who he might recruit to play the pivotal character of Manny, he might well have thought – “We need someone like Sydney Tafler for this role.”
His appearance in Survivors in 1976 turned out to be one of the last of Tafler’s long and creditable career. The following year, he returned to the big screen to play the role of the captain of supertanker The Liparus in the James Bond caper The Spy Who Loved Me. Tafler died on 8 November 1979.
LUCY FLEMING AND Simon Williams completed the New York run of their spoken-word production Posting Letter to the Moon earlier this week.
The three week run at 59E59 Theatres was the first overseas tour for the show which offers “a romantic, funny, and touching portrait of life during the early 1940s featuring readings of wartime letters between Oscar- nominated actress [and Lucy Fleming’s mother] Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming).”
Speaking to Hollywood Soapbox, during the run, Fleming suggests that the letters shared by her parents reveals:
the depth of their love and the bravery they showed each other from thousands of miles apart, the jokes they sent each other to keep their spirits up, their optimism throughout the five years of World War II when nobody knew who was going to survive, the way they dealt with the deprivations of rationing of food, petrol and clothes.
A copy of the full-colour programme from the US run is available for download below.
IN 1975, THE year that the first series of Survivors was shown on the BBC, Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant) appeared alongside Alastair Simm and Jeremy Brett in the powerful one-hour drama The Prodigal Daughter.
Produced by Anglia Television and screened on the ITV network, The Prodigal Daughter sees Seymour take on the role of a troubled young woman named Christine Smith who becomes a housekeeper for some very traditional priests living in a presbytery. Christine’s presence turns out to be the catalyst for somes unexpected disruption for Father Perfect (Sim) and someeven more challenging self-doubt by Father Michael Daley (Brett) in relation to his faith that had shaped his life.
The Prodigal Daughter is an engrossing 50-minute character study, framed and shot in the classic 1970s’ studio-set style, lit up by a universally strong performances by a superb cast. Director Alastair Reid and producer John Jacobs both do fantastic work with a thoughtful and confident script by David Turner.
As the fragile but assertive Christine, Seymour is predictably brilliant. While the character is written as someone younger than Abby Grant, Seymour is equally as convincing as the unstable and anxious Christine as she is as the determined and resolute Abby. The backgrounds and life opportunities of the two characters (at least up until the point of The Death) could hardly be in starker contrast, but Seymour makes them both believable, rounded human beings.
The Prodigal Daughter has not yet secured an independent sell-through release, but it is included in the Network Special Edition DVD release of the wartime espionage drama Cottage to Let (starring Alastair Sim).
While you wait for the DVD copy you order from Network to arrive, a basic off-air recording in available on YouTube (which repeats the first section at the end of the recording).
An elderly priest recruits a young woman as housekeeper in the presbytery he shares with two young priests, but temptation and jealousy soon sew discord and doubt in some minds.