CAROLYN SEYMOUR FEATURES IN the cast of Big Finish’s newly released eighth series of Fourth Doctor Adventures starring Tom Baker.
Although Seymour’s work on the series of current Survivors audios comes to an end with the release of the ninth box set of stories in June 2019, she is continuing to take on new one-off and recurring roles in other audio dramas in the Big Finish universe.
In the Fourth Doctor audio “The Syndicate Master Plan”, available to buy now from the Big Finish site, Seymour voices two characters: The Commodore and Mrs Kidd. Amongst others joining Tom Baker in the ensemble cast are Jane Slavin, John Leeson, John Shrapnel and Jon Culshaw.
DENIS LILL HAS joined the cast of a touring theatrical production of the celebrated legal courtroom drama The Verdict.
Brought to the stage by The Middle Ground Theatre Company, this new production of the stage play, adapted from Barry Reed’s acclaimed novel by Margaret May Hobbs, is appearing at theatres across the UK and Ireland between now and the end of May.
Lill takes on the role of Moe Katz, a character he describes as a “rather tired and rather clapped out Jewish lawyer in Boston.” Katz has been the mentor to younger lawyer Frank Galvin since he left the US Marines. Katz has taken Galvin “under his wing, coached him and mentored him throughout the course of his career,” Lill explains.
Galvin (Ian Kelsey) himself is a troubled figure, battling with alcohol dependency and professional failings. But when Galvin picks up a hospital malpractice case it energises him to seek justice for a young mother, challenge the medical and legal establishments, and perhaps find redemption for himself in the process.
The Cotswold Life‘s review of the show’s run at the Everyman Theatre iin Cheltenham earlier this month, suggests that Lill “brought an utterly heart-warming humanity to the whole production.”
The Verdict by Barry Reed
Directed and designed by Michael Lunney. Adapted by Margaret May Hobbs.
STARRING IAN KELSEY, DENIS LILL, PAUL OPACIC, CHRISTOPHER ETTRIDGE, RICHARD WALSH and KAREN DRURY.
The Powerful Bestselling Courtroom Thriller that inspired a multi Academy Award-Nominated film.
Frank Galvin is a washed up veteran lawyer and an alcoholic. He is presented with one last chance to redeem himself when he is given an open-and-shut medical malpractice case that no one thinks he can win. Up against the unforgiving medical establishment, he courageously refuses an out of court settlement, believing it is negligence that has condemned a young mother. Smelling a cover up, he instead takes the case and the entire legal system to court.
You will recall the five times OSCAR nominated Sidney Lumet film with Paul Newman, James Mason and Charlotte Rampling.
Ian Kelsey is known by millions for his regular roles in Blue Murder, Emmerdale, Casualty, Down To Earth, Where The Heart Is, Doctors and Coronation Street. Denis Lill is best known for playing Alan Parry (father of Casandra) in Only Fools and Horses, as well as regular roles in The Royal, Rumpole Of The Bailey, The Regiment, Survivors and many more. They are joined by Paul Opacic (Bad Girls/Emmerdale/Hollyoaks), Christopher Ettridge (Goodnight Sweetheart), Richard Walsh(London’s Burning), Karen Drury (Brookside), Josephine Rogers, Michael Lunney, Okon Jones, Anne Kavanagh, Holly Jackson Walters, James Morley, Jog Maher, Alexandra Fisher and Greg Fitch.
Describe the character that you are playing in the Verdict?
He’s a 75-year-old, rather tired and rather clapped out Jewish lawyer in Boston and he’s the man who plucked our main character of the play, Frank Galvin, off the boat, straight from the war in his U.S Royal Marines uniform. Taken him under his wing, coached him and mentored him throughout the course of his career.
As an actor what is the biggest challenge when you are discovering a new character?
The biggest challenge, apart from learning the words and getting them all in the right order, is about getting under the skin of that character and finding out what makes him tick and what makes him sound right as well. For me it’s very important for a character, particularly an American character to actually sound right, he has to be believable, the last thing you want is an audience saying he doesn’t sound quite right, sometimes an English actor doing an American accent doesn’t quite sound right, but in our case we are very lucky, we have a great cast and everybody seems to be able to do exactly what they are asked to do.
Is it difficult for you to do an American accent?
No, it’s never been a problem for me. I was born and brought up in New Zealand and during the war, when I was a baby we used to have American soldiers billeted in our house from the Pacific Theatre and I think possibly subconsciously when I was one or two I got used to the sounds of these American voices, plus the fact that I was brought up on American movies and I love Westerns.
Do you share any of the same personality traits as Moe Katz?
Not a single one I don’t think, Moe Katz drinks Earl Grey Tea, which is something that I do from time to time not a lot else in common though which is actually good as it means I can reinvent myself as the character, right from scratch and it works, which is a nice part of being an actor. You have to have that chameleon charisma about yourself, so you can adapt, adopt and steal outrageously from people.
What do you like about the play The Verdict?
That’s easy, the quality of the writing is without parallel and having waded my way in the past through tours and plays which have been either been badly adapted or badly written, it’s such a relief to come across literary quality like this because it does a lot of the work for you. Also I’m a great stickler for discipline, writers don’t use a word just because it’s a word they use it for a specific reason, and I’ve met some actors who just regard the script as a rough guide as to what they are going to be saying but I stick to it as I have a great respect for writers. I try to be as accurate as I can as far as their script is concerned and this script is no exception, in fact this script is probably an essential as the quality of the writing is just so wonderful.
You are a very familiar face from T.V roles in Only Fools and Horses, The Royal, Rumpole of the Bailey etc – is TV or Theatre your true love?
I have a love hate relationship with the theatre, it’s a very inconvenient work place as far as one is working very unsociable hours, particularity if one is working in the West End, at the end of the show one is spat out and you have to get your head down, head for the nearest tube station and go home. But by the same token the creative process is very, very exciting unlike television or film where you are literally thrown in and you’re cast mainly by the way you look. Television I enjoy, I like the hours, film is even better as you are out there in a field somewhere, your sword in one hand, hacking away at people and galloping around, that’s great fun, it’s brilliant fun! There are lots of pros and cons in every medium, but as far as my favourite? Films pay the best but theatre is more satisfying!
MORE DETAILS OF the cast and storylines of the forthcoming eighth series of Survivors audio adventures have been released by Big Finish.
This next series of four adventures focuses on Abby Grant (Carolyn Seymour) and Jenny Richards (Lucy Fleming). As well as the returning characters of of Ruth (Helen Goldwyn) and Craig (George Watkins) and a guest spot by Wendy Craig, Big Finish have confirmed that Abby and her son Peter (Joel James Davison) will be reunited in this series – although there is no guarantee that their reunion will be a joyous one.
Returning scriptwriters Christopher Hatherall and Roland Moore are joined by first-time Survivors audio writers Jane Slavin (who also features in the cast) and Lisa McMullin.
Series eight of Surivors audios will be released in November 2018.
Survivors 8 – Cast and Story Details
More details have been released on the next volume of Survivors (Series Eight) due for release this November. Society is being rebuilt and reunions will take place, but people have changed since the ‘Death’…
Prepare to return to the powerful and sinister world of Survivors, in Series Eight of one of Big Finish’s most critically acclaimed releases.
8.1 BANDIT TRAIN
Society is slowly rebuilding. Abby and Jenny are transporting supplies between settlements. Craig is learning how to run the steam engines on lines cleared by Greg Preston.
But there are still those who just want to take. And their train is about to come under attack…
Once, Robert Malcolm had a complicated life. His wife in an institution, his girlfriend running a struggling business, he was out of the army and without a place in the world.
When the Death came, it meant many things to many people. For Robert, it meant freedom.
8.3 THE LOST BOYS
Peter Grant is alive. He is with Robert Malcolm’s army of boy soldiers, learning to survive. Building a better future.
But medic Ruth has her suspicions when she visits the camp. And Craig is about to find out what it takes to become a recruit.
8.4 VILLAGE OF DUST
Abby, still desperate for the reunion she’s been seeking for years, now knows that Peter is part of an army.
Meanwhile, Jenny realises that someone is drawing plans against her budding Federation. A war is coming, and mother and son are on different sides.
Survivors Series Eight sees actors Carolyn Seymour and Lucy Fleming reprising their TV roles as Abby Grant and Jenny Richards. Helen Goldwyn also returns as Ruth and George Watkins returns as Craig – both characters previously appeared in Survivors Series Six. Plus actress Wendy Craig, who listeners will recognise from TV shows Nanny, Butterflies, …And Mother Makes Three and …And Mother Makes Five, guest stars, and Joel James Davison (the son of Fifth DoctorPeter Davison) joins the ongoing series as Peter Grant, Abby’s long-lost son in a major twist. They’ll finally be reunited, but will Peter be happy to see his mother again?
Other cast members, Hywel Morgan plays Robert Malcolm, Gyuri Sarossy plays Derek Gibb, Richard Popple plays Kilby, Homer Todiwala plays Scotty, SusieEmmett plays Twig, Jane Slavin (as well as writing an episode) plays Julia and Mrs Brock, Vikash Bhai plays Jesus, Isla Carter plays Cayla Kenny, Eddie Eyre plays Seth Pilkington, Katherine Rose Morley plays Sonia Meadows and Susan Hingley plays Jiao Li.
MARTIN WORTH, who wrote a total of seven scripts for the second and third series of Survivors (1975-1977), has died at the age of 91.
Born in Balham in London in November 1926, Martin Wigglesworth (who later changed his name to Worth), became a scriptwriter after a short stint as an actor in repertory and one-off theatrical productions. He went on to write for the stage, radio and television, penning memorable early TV scripts for Public Eye (1965, 1968), The Borderers (1970) and Special Branch (1970), before being hired by Terence Dudley to work on the eco-cautionary Doomwatch (1970-72). His script for the 1974 BBC documentary series Microbes and Men won him that year’s prestigious Best British Documentary award by the Writers’ Guild. The year that the first series of Survivors was shown, Worth penned all six episodes of the BBC’s adaptation of The Master of Ballantrae, which starred Brian Cox.
Worth’s work on Survivors’ second series
Worth joined the writing team on Survivors for series two, as the show’s centre of operations relocated to the Whitecross settlement, following the departure of Abby Grant and the blaze at The Grange. Worth was fascinated by life within the real-life community at Callow Hill, which provided the setting for the fictional Whitecross, “The location was wonderful,” he later explained to David Richardson, in an interview for TV Zone. “I took detailed photographs of everything.” Worth incorporated many of his observations and insights into his scripts, and plotted his stories to take best advantage of the layout of the landscape and buildings on site.
Worth’s first story, By Bread Alone, is a thoughtful reflection on the place of religious observance and theistic faith in the post-Death world. The impact of Lewis’ emergence from his crisis of faith drew directly on the life story of Worth’s own father; a priest who experienced his own existential angst when he came to doubt his long-held Christian beliefs. It was the kind of introspective, philosophical story which frustrated those looking to up the action-and-adventure quota on the show, but for those who warmed to its insightful themes and immersive atmosphere it marked an impressive debut for an incoming scriptwriter.
It was a measure of producer Dudley’s confidence in Worth that he was assigned writing duties on the closing two episodes of the second series of Survivors. The clash of generation and gender, brilliantly depicted in Over the Hills, is centre stage in the best of Worth’s three scripts for series two (and arguably his strongest single contribution to the show overall). It’s a script that shows Worth’s ability to craft a passionate clash of principles and strongly-held beliefs into an utterly compelling fifty-minutes drama, delivering something that is morally complex and which is determined to present the views of all the protagonists as valid and worthy of attention.
Series two closer New World is a cleverly-crafted mystery-adventure which signals the expansion of the series’ field of vision far beyond the environs of Whitecross. Worth’s script cleverly reveals the wider post-Death vista that the third series will set out to explore, and sets in motion Whitecross’ relegation to the fringes (finding a way to separate the two sparring actors playing the male leads on the show at the same time). Dudley required Worth to compress too many developments into a single episode, but with top-notch plotting and dialogue, and excellent guest characters, there’s a good case to be made for New World being the strongest of Survivors‘ three series finales.
In later years, Worth remained keen to put forward his conviction that the presence of the BBC Outside Broadcast crew at Callow Hill had a detrimental effect on the community, which – he suggested – unravelled under the pressures that filming brought. “We destroyed the very survivors we were trying to write the series about,” he explained to Timescreen. It was a contentious view, which many others who worked in-front-of and behind the cameras did not recognise. In contrast, they remember the friendships and ‘personal entanglements’ between residents and BBC visitors which developed during the spring and summer of 1976. They also recall the warm and high-spirited ceilidh that was held as the on-site ‘wrap party’ for the shoot, and note that Denis Lill and John Abineri continued to be welcome guests at Callow Hill for many years after the production left. It may simply be one of those rare cases where Worth’s evident love for a good story got the better of him.
Worth’s work on the third series of Survivors
This view aside, Worth was still disappointed by Dudley’s decision to break-up the Whitecross settlement and push the series out on the road, believing that there was untapped dramatic potential in the world of Whitecross commune and small-holding. He felt that abandoning that framework in favour of the struggle to rebuild civilisation could only accelerate the series’ demise. Setting his own misgivings aside, Worth embraced Dudley’s changed brief to deliver three contributions to what became the final series of Survivors that fully embodied the new perspective.
The riveting drama of Law of the Jungle, lit up by a bombastic performance by Brian Blessed, offered a chilling realisation of the ‘red in tooth and claw’ realities of humankind’s relation to nature in the post-Death world. It was a story that stood in complete contrast to the pastoral, bucolic and settled life of Whitecross, and was exactly the kind of the script that would have enthused Dudley. Bridgehead and Long Live the King each saw Worth very effectively wrangling the different elements that were the series’ metaphors for the revival of civilisation and of society. The scripts for both episodes again showed Worth’s talent for melding abstract themes and ideas with convincing, and very human-centred, drama.
Worth’s script for Power, the series last ever episode, is a fantastical ‘procedural’ story, showcasing the effort to bring the first Scottish hydroelectric power plant back online – while a saboteur in the survivors ranks attempts to wreck their plans. Worth placed great store in ensuring that the technical elements of this story were accurate, visiting both a power plant and a sub-station as part of his preparation. “I was shown exactly how it worked,” he explained later. “Getting it all right, doing accurate research, is very satisfying. Do it responsibly and you can always get dramatic value out of the difficulties you encounter.” This attention to detail did not lead Worth to turn in a ‘dry’ plot. In Survivors‘ closing fifty minutes, he ensures that the drama remained centred on the social and personal aspects of the struggle to reconnect the country’s first power supplies avoiding the narrowly mechanical. Power remains something of a contentious endpoint amongst Survivors enthusiasts, but very few of the controversies that this last episode give rise to are reflections of any shortcomings in the script. Worth crafts an assured sign-off for Survivors‘ sometimes disjointed final series, and delivers a number of welcome pay-offs in the process.
The year that Survivors came to an end, Worth also provided scripts for The Onedin Line and the BBC’s adaptation of Poldark. He would go on to write for Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984), Gems and C.A.T.S. Eyes (1985) and Drummonds (1987), and continued to pen scripts for both theatre and radio until his retirement.
Worth was rightly proud of his contributions to Survivors, and was a keen supporter of anyone researching the history of the series. In 1988, Worth was interviewed by Andrew Pixley and Anthony McKay for Timescreen magazine, and discussed the full breath of his work on genre television, including but not limited to Survivors.
In the mid-1990s, he was interviewed by Kevin Marshall during his research for his self-published tome The Making of Terry Nation’s Survivors, and appeared as one of the panelists for the Survivors session at the ‘Dreamwatch 94’ convention, chaired by Marshall, which was one of the first public reunions of cast-and-crew to discuss the series ever held. In December 2006, Worth appeared as one of the interviewees in BBC Four’s The Cult of…Survivors retrospective documentary on the series (also appearing in the Doomwatch, The Onedin Line and Poldark episodes).
When Andy Priester and myself were writing The End of the World?: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Survivors, we sadly did not have the opportunity to interview Martin Worth. It was not until 2010 that I was fortunate enough to arrange to meet with him for a fascinating afternoon of discussion about his work on both Doomwatch and Survivors. Worth had been unaware of the publication of our Survivors book, but was effusive and animated in his praise when I was able to provide a copy for him to read, and full of helpful comments and suggestions for a second, updated edition.
He remained convinced that uprooting the series at the close of series two had marked a premature death-knell for the show. Terence Dudley had, he charged:
made a mistake in allowing the survivors to succeed in getting the country organized again. Though it was fun to write, it effectively killed off the series. If we’d stayed with the community in Wales trying to get by through their own self-sufficiency, it could have gone on for many more seasons.
That is certainly an enticing and and intriguing prospect from one of the most accomplished and perceptive scriptwriters to have worked on the original Survivors.
CHRISTOPHER TRANCHELL (PAUL PITMAN, Survivors) is joining the line-up at Fantom Events’ September Signing Spectacular, being held on Saturday 8 September 2018 in Chiswick.
Fantom describe these Doctor Who themed events as ideal for “collectors and first time attendees” and providing a “unique opportunity to meet a vast array of Doctors, companions, guest stars and technical personnel.” Tranchell appeared in the Who stories “The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve” (1966), “The Faceless Ones” (1967) and “The Invasion of Time” (1978).
Also appearing alongside Tranchell are Gary Cady, Shirley Cooklin, Gareth Armstrong, Jack Parker, Gabriela Montaraz, David Reynalds and Janet Radenkovic.
Entrance to the event is £10.00, with guests charging £10.00 for photo signings. All guests will sign in two two-hour blocks, and those unable to attend can pre-order a signed photo to be delivered by post.
RICHARD HEFFER (JIMMY Garland, Survivors) is interviewed in the current print edition of Starburst magazine, discussing his leading role in the three-part 1983 rabies mini-series The Mad Death.
Coinciding with the release of The Mad Death on DVD for the first time, Heffer recalls the making of the series, the topicality of its dramatic themes, the chilling and memorable opening titles, and his evident delight in taking on the role of no-nonsense government vet Michael Hilliard.
The DVD release is also reviewed in the online edition of Starburst magazine. The review concludes that the series:
remains gripping, thought-provoking, unsettling and disturbing; an overdue release from the TV archives from an era when the BBC made more shows that deserved those kinds of adjectives.
Rich Cross. 2018. ‘Interview – Richard Heffer: The Mad Death’. Starburst, No 449, p.92.
Seymour will be signing autographs (for a £15.00 fee) and chatting with fans during the event at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone, Kent on both Saturday 12 May and Sunday 13 May 2018.
In unrelated news, Getty Images have increased the number of archival (and more recent) photos of Seymour available from the photo agency. The images are free to embed (as below), with fees applying to include them in online and print publications.
THE THREE-PART 1983 BBC rabies drama The Mad Death, starring Survivors‘ Richard Heffer (Jimmy Garland) will be released for the first time ever on DVD on 7 May 2018, courtesy of Simply Media.
The drama, which also features Barbara Kellerman (1990) and Ed Bishop (UFO), focuses on the efforts of Chief Veterinary Officer Michael Hilliard (Heffer) to contain an outbreak of rabies in rural Scotland, triggered when a tourist smuggles their infected pet back into the country.
As is standard practice with Simply Media genre DVDs, The Mad Death will be a vanilla release, without any special features or supporting material. Full details can be found in the Simply Media catalogue listing for the release.
The Mad Death
The BBC’s nightmarish vision of Britain under attack by a rabies outbreak. Starring Richard Heffer, Barbara Kellerman and Ed Bishop.
Directed by BAFTA-nominee Robert Young, The Mad Death is a disturbing and chilling three-part thriller that examined in terrifying detail the potential consequences of a rabies outbreak in Britain. Shown in 1983 at the height of Britain’s paranoia about the potential outbreak of the disease.
When a tourist from France cannot bear to leave her cat at home while she travels on holiday, she smuggles it in to Scotland for her trip. But what she doesn’t know is her pet is infected with a deadly disease, which goes unnoticed as it infects the animal population. The Mad Death has already spread far when it is finally noticed when it claims its first human victim.
This sparks off a deadly rabies outbreak, which threatens to attack the entire nation. Michael Hillard (Richard Heffer) and Ann Maitland (Barbara Kellerman) join forces to fight the dreadful disease, with one trying to contain the outbreak, and the other trying to trace the virus back to its source to save others from an agonising death.
What the press Said: “a dark and sometimes shocking plot which is driven by some powerful performances. The emotional impact of certain scenes is enough to ensure you won’t forget the serial any time soon.” – Curious British Telly
Release Date: 7th May 2018
Run Time: 3 hours
Language: English (with English Subtitles)
DENIS LILL HAS recently begun a national theatre tour in a Classic Thriller Company production of The Case of the Frightened Lady. This latest production from the company is an adaptation of Edgar Wallace’s acclaimed murder mystery, and includes in its ensemble many of the same cast members that Lill has appeared with in previous touring productions by the Agatha Christie Company, including Witness for the Prosection, Death on the Nile and Then There Were None.
When Inspector Tanner is called in to investigate a ruthless murder at Mark’s Priory, the grand ancestral home of the Lebanon family, he quickly discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. The household is controlled by the family physician, the footmen behave more like guests than servants and the secretary Isla is afraid for her life. As Tanner moves closer to the heart of the mystery he uncovers a shocking and closely guarded secret…
Building on the phenomenal decade long success of The Agatha Christie Company, which sold over two million tickets around the UK, comes a new thrilling chapter. Following this year’s acclaimed production of Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone, the Classic Thriller Company returns with a brand new adaption from the legendary “King of the detective thriller”, EDGAR WALLACE – the brains behind one of the most iconic films of all time, KING KONG.
Widely recognised as the most popular writer of the early 20th century, Edgar Wallace’s gripping page-turners are regarded as the bedrock of the modern thriller and The Case of the Frightened Lady remains one of his most celebrated works. Adapted for film several times, this is your chance to catch this chilling, captivating and complex thriller live on stage…
The tour got off to an excellent start, with the opening run at The Theatre Royal in Windsow earning a rave review in the Slough Observer. Performances across the ensemble cast all garnered praise, with Denis Lill “from long-running drama The Royal and Only Fools and Horses” described as “wonderful” in the role of Dr Amersham.
LUCY FLEMING AND Simon Williams will appear on stage together in additional spoken-word performances of Posting Letters to the Moon, a reading of the wartime letters between the actress Ceila Johnson and her husband Peter Fleming.
A romantic, funny and very touching portrait of life during the early 1940s featuring readings of wartime letters between Oscar-nominated actress Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming).
The letters read by their daughter Lucy Fleming (Miranda in The Archers, Survivors) and her husband Simon Williams (Justin in The Archers, EastEnders, Upstairs Downstairs) are full of love and warmth and we get an insight into a young mother’s life whose husband has gone to war.
‘…this intimate and simply spellbinding performance … revealing an abundance of love and affection between ordinary people caught in extraordinary times.’ British Theatre Guide, March 2017
THE MILL AT SONNING THEATRE
Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Sonning Eye, Reading RG4 6TY
0118 969 8000 http://www.millatsonning.com/
Tickets £20.00 to include a glass of Champagne served on stage with a Q & A after the show.