Big Finish Survivors cast and crew at London Film and Comic Con

Chase Masterson (Maddie Price) will be appearing alongside Big Finish Survivors audio drama producer David Richardson, script editor and scriptwriter Matt Fitton, director Ken Bentley and executive producer Nicholas Briggs at the London Film and Comic Con on 12-13 July in Earls Court, London.

Masterson will be be available to sign copies of the series one Survivors CD boxset, but, like Briggs, will be “unable to sign any photography from TV series that they have appeared in.”

More details of the event are available from the Big Finish and London Film and Comic Con sites.

Big Finish - Survivors - quotation

New Big Finish Survivors audio adventure interviews

New interviews with John Banks (Daniel Connor), Sinead Keenan (Suzie Edwards), Adrian Lukis (James Gillison), Chase Masterson (Maddie Price), and San Shella (Sayed) have been added to the Survivors: A World Away Big Finish mini-site.

These latest interviews join those with producer David Richardson, director Ken Bentley, script editor and writer Matt Fitton and writers Jonathan Morris and Andrew Smith.

There are also reviews of all four episodes in the first series. More interviews with cast and crew will be added soon!

Survivors: A World Away - Big Finish Survivors

Survivors series two DVD studio day – ten years ago today

It is exactly ten years ago to-the-day (3 June 2004) that Lorna Lewis, Denis Lill, Pennant Roberts and Heather Wright were reunited at a studio in central London to record the ‘special features’ for the Survivors series two DVD release.

All of the participants in this reunion of series two Survivors personnel provided individual on-camera interviews recalling their time working on the show, much of it based in and around Callow Hill (‘Whitecross’) near Monmouth in Herefordshire.

In addition, Lill and Roberts provided a genuinely fascinating audio commentary on the episode Lights of London Part II; the second-half of a unique two-part Survivors story. The assembled Survivors alumni also made themselves available for interviews with journalists from the cult and genre press to promote the forthcoming release.

The commercial success of the Survivors series two DVD release ensured that DD Entertainment would exercise its option to release the third and final series of the original Survivors the following year, and agree, in the process, to fund the most extensive set of ‘special features’ seen on any of the three series DVD box-sets.

To mark the decennial anniversary of this event, we’re publishing a set of never-before-seen behind-the-scenes photos from the day.

It is a sad and sobering thought to remember that both Pennant Roberts and Lorna Lewis have been lost to us in the decade that has passed since these special features were recorded (alongside the death of several other key members of the series cast and crew): a fact which makes their recollections of the recording of the second series of Survivors all the more poignant to revisit.

Heather Wright, Lorna Lewis, Pennant Roberts and Denis Lill are reunited in the studio
Heather Wright, Lorna Lewis, Pennant Roberts and Denis Lill are reunited in the studio
Denis Lill and Pennant Roberts review Survivors series one DVD materials
Denis Lill and Pennant Roberts review Survivors series one DVD materials
Denis Lill during his on-camera interview
Denis Lill during his on-camera interview
Pennant Roberts poses for a press shot
Pennant Roberts poses for a press shot
Heather Wright poses for a publicity shot
Heather Wright poses for a publicity shot

Big Finish ‘so proud’ of their work on Survivors new audio adventures

Audio drama specialists Big Finish have also gone public to explain why the company is so proud of its work on the series:

David Richardson, producer:
We never undertake these audio productions of classic TV series lightly. We are telling new stories for something that we love, and it’s a huge responsibility. I felt that with Survivors that we had superb scripts and a terrific cast. What I found most flattering was the fact that Ian McCulloch, at several times during recording, said he felt our episodes were the equal of the very best Terry Nation scripts. That meant a great deal.

Ken Bentley, director:
Compared to most of the plays I’ve directed for Big Finish, Survivors is straighter, darker, and more truthful. The emotional ground we cover is much broader, and without borders. It’s been fascinating to read the scripts, to see how the writers respond to this new storytelling world. It’s been a privilege to work with the cast and hear them bring to life characters who are battling to stay alive (Terry Molloy delivers a performance so magnificent it makes you wish Big Finish gave out awards). And the sound design is so finely detailed, staging sequences just as they would’ve done in the original television series. That’s how much thought we’ve put into this. Right down to the smallest detail.

Matt Fitton, script editor and writer of episode 1, Revelation:
Survivors gives us the opportunity to showcase the talent we have at Big Finish in exciting new ways. While we’re all used to thinking of Chase Masterson, Terry Molloy and Louise Jameson in a sci-fi adventure context, here their characters are thrown into real and gritty scenarios and pushed to the very limits. It’s a world much closer to our own, where ordinary people are confronted with extraordinary situations and the dramatic potential is immense. Mix in the original TV series cast alongside some of our amazing new cast – Sinead Keenan, Adrian Lukis, Caroline Langrishe and John Banks to name but a few – and we think Survivors is a storytelling world with a tone like nothing you’ve ever heard before from the Big Finish stable…

Andrew Smith, writer of episode 3, Judges:
This audio series of Survivors continues what its TV predecessor did better than any other of its kind that I can think of, which was to immerse the audience in its world. As we listen we can’t help but consider, in a world where so much of what we take for granted has gone (including technology, government and law), how would we cope? Would we have the temperament, skills and determination to survive? It helps that the characters – such as Greg and Jenny – are people like us who behave realistically in extreme adversity, sometimes making wrong decisions. It’s been a privilege to be a part of bringing this landmark series to a new audience and to place these characters, portrayed by our first class cast, in further jeopardy. Across the four episodes you’ll be going on an emotional roller coaster ride with them.

John Dorney, writer of episode 4, Esther:
Given that we usually work in fantastical universes, it’s been revelatory to work on something so grounded and earthy. Freed of those sci-fi shackles, I think we’ve all – actors, writers, directors, sound designers, etc- really had the chance to flex our metaphorical muscles and work outside of our comfort zones. And I think everyone’s grabbed that chance with both hands and taken the opportunity to do something really special. We’ve gone back to basics just as much as the characters have. We’ve been able to focus on people and the way they behaved, we’ve been able to look at the best side of humanity and its darkest, and push everything as far as we can go. It’s not quite like anything you’ll have heard from Big Finish before and I doubt you’ll forget it in a hurry.

Series one, which is released in early June 2014, is still available for pre-order from the Big Finish web site.

Big Finish - Survivors series one - 'The apocalypse is coming'
Big Finish – Survivors series one – ‘The apocalypse is coming’

Big Finish release artwork for Survivors series one audio adventures

Big Finish have released an image of the CD artwork for the first series of Survivors audio adventures being released next month. Series one (which is released in both CD and digital download formats) is still available for pre-order from the Big Finish web site.

Survivors - series one - CD artwork - Big Finish

Denis Lill to tour with The Mummy

Denis Lill - The Mummy
Denis Lill is appearing is a new touring theatrical production: the comedy scarefest The Mummy.

Also joining the cast of The Mummy are Jason Durr (Heartbeat ) and Susie Amy (Footballers’ Wives ).

Adapted (“very loosely”, say the producers) from Bram Stoker’s Jewel of the Seven Stars  by Jack Milner, The Mummy  is described as “a cross between The Woman in BlackThe 39 Steps  and The Morecambe and Wise Show “. The production is directed by Joe Harmston (Associate Creative Director of The Belgrade Theatre, and Agatha Christie Theatre Company regular).

From deepest, darkest, dangerous Egypt, a legendary curse is stirring back into life and we’re all going along for the outrageous and terrifying ride! This titillating tale of terror and intrigue spans thousands of years and will have you laughing, screaming, screaming with laughter and laughing with screaming in equal measure!

A respectable legal practitioner, a beautiful dark-eyed Cornish heiress, a 5,000 year-old man seeking an ancient love and the Tomb of the mystical Queen Tera all clash spectacularly in hilarious circumstances.

Lill plays two separate roles: ‘The Egyptologist’ in search of the key to eternal life, but one half of a horse with fellow actor Andrew Bone. “It’s really stretching my accomplishments,” jokes Lill. “It’s a unique experience.”

The Mummy premiered at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on Friday 21 March, completing its initial run on Saturday 29 March, ahead of a nationwide tour, which takes in theatres around the country throughout April, May and June.

Denis Lill and the cast of The Mummy, in rehearsal
Denis Lill and the cast of The Mummy, in rehearsal

Carolyn Seymour (Abby) to appear at Big Finish Day 5 convention

Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant) is scheduled to appear at the Big Finish Day 5 convention, being held on 13 September 2014 (from 10:00 to 18:00) at Copthorne Hotel Slough-Windsor.

The Big Finish Day 5 will feature guest appearances from Tom Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe launching the new Big Finish Doctor Who: Philip Hinchcliffe Presents release; a new audio drama in which Carolyn will also feature, lending her vocal talents to the role of Mordrega.

From the team behind the new Big Finish Survivors audio adventures, there will also be appearances from producers Nick Briggs, David Richardson, director Ken Bentley and actor (and Big Finish regular) John Banks.

Advance tickets can be purchased online.

Big Finish Day 5
Big Finish Day 5

Roger Lloyd-Pack dies (15 January 2014)

Roger Lloyd-Pack (the only actor to appear in both the original Survivors [1975-1977] and the Survivors remake [2008-2010]) has died. The well-respected character and comedy actor passed away from pancreatic cancer on 15 January 2014, at the age of 69.

In the original series, Lloyd-Pack appeared in a memorable guest-starring role in the two-part story Lights of London (series two, 1976), taking on the part of the young rebel Wally, who is exiled from the 500-strong London community for voicing discontent with the authoritarian rule of dictator Manny. He rescues Greg and Charles when they are attacked by rats on arriving in London to search for the abducted Ruth. Wally travels (off-screen) to the Whitecross community to take news of the whereabouts of Greg, Charles and Ruth. When he returns and joins in a recce mission to search for petrol supplies, he is shot by the ruthless Manny and left for dead in wasteland near the Thames. At the end of the story, a wounded Wally returns to rescue Ruth, Charles and Greg, who are trapped in the underground tunnels by gunfire from a murderous Manny when attempting to flee. After he shoots Manny dead, Wally agrees to rejoin the London community in the hope of encouraging the London survivors to adopt a more equitable, tolerant and democratic form of organisation. He also commits himself to finding a volunteer doctor to take the place of abductee Ruth – who is now free to return to Whitecross with Charles and Greg.

Some thirty-four years later, in the second series of remake of Survivors, Lloyd-Pack took on the far less heroic role of truck driver and trader Billy Stringer; who appears in episodes three and four. Initially appearing to be a benign figure, Stringer rescues Greg and the family from a Land Rover breakdown by providing them with a replacement fan belt. But Stringer later reveals to settlement leader Samantha Willis that he know knows the whereabouts of Tom Price (the man at the top of her most-wanted list) and sets in motion the events which culminate in Price’s detention, trial and conviction for murder. Stringer is revealed to be a slave trader, abducting survivors from around the country as forced labour for the brutal coal mining operation being run on Smithson’s estate: a fate which soon befalls Greg and Tom. Later, after Stringer’s truck is stolen by an escaped Tom, he is left tied to a tree in the woods. It is there that he realises that the young captive who helps to free him from his binds is Abby’s missing son Peter. Unseen off-screen, Stringer later hands Peter over to the Whitaker’s group of research scientists; setting the scene for the final showdown of the second series. Stringer’s own fate remains unknown.

Lloyd-Pack was born in 1944 in Islington, London, the son of Hammer horror actor Charles Lloyd-Pack. Early in his acting career her appeared in such shows as The Avengers, Jason King, Crown Court and Softly Softly: Taskforce, whilst enjoying a varied career in the theatre. Lloyd-Pack later found considerable fame and popular acclaim through his recurring roles in sit-coms Only Fools and Horses (as Trigger) and The Vicar of Dibley (as Owen Newitt) – roles so prominent they sometimes overshadowed his other work. More recently he appeared in Doctor Who (in 2006), The Old Guys (2009-10) and Inspector George Gently (2012) and on the big-screen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Made in Dagenham (2010) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011).

News of Roger Lloyd-Pack’s passing was widely reported, including on the BBC News site (which also published an obituary and a photo gallery of his on-screen career). Obituaries appeared in The Independent, The Telegraph, The Guardian and in many other places.

Roger Lloyd-Pack, Lights of London II, 1976
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Lights of London II, 1976

 
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Wally, Lights of London
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Wally, Lights of London

 
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Survivors (2010), Billy Stringer
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Survivors (2010), Billy Stringer

 
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Survivors (2010), Billy Stringer
Roger Lloyd-Pack, Survivors (2010), Billy Stringer

Technical details and production credits for new Big Finish Survivors audio adventures

Big Finish have published some more technical and production credits for the forthcoming first series of new Survivors audio adventures – scheduled for release in June 2014.

Written By: Matt Fitton, Jonathan Morris, Andrew Smith, John Dorney
Director: Ken Bentley
Sound Design: Neil Gardner
Music: Nicholas Briggs
Cover Art: Anthony Lamb
Number of Discs: 4
Duration: 240ms approx
ISBN: 978-1-78178-276-7
Production Code: BFPSURV001
Recorded At: Moat Studios, Audio Sorcery Studios

Big Finish have also brought together in one place the full, current set of publicity and promotional shots of series one cast members

Starburst anticipates new Survivors audio adventures

The Starburst web site has published short interview snippets with cast and crew members from the forthcoming new Survivors audio adventures being released by Big Finish in June.

In the brief article, Ian McCulloch suggests to Starburst‘s Tony Jones:

‘I think Terry Nation would have approved of the style of writing and presenting the drama that Big Finish has chosen. They are very much the type of story that Terry would have liked the show to have covered [in the 1970s].’

Lucy Fleming adds:

‘I think the scripts are very well done and the idea behind Survivors is a universal story that makes you think again about what’s really important. The show always made viewers think about the basic practicalities of life as well as enjoying the adventure stories we were making.’