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.
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.
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.
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 Mercuryby 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.
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.
LUCY FLEMING AND Simon Williams will travel to New York in May to perform a three-week run of their acclaimed narrated two-hander Posting Letters to the Moon.
The ninety-minute show offers a “romantic, funny, and 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).”
Posting Letters to the Moon will feature of part of the “Brits Off Broadway 2019” season which aims to introduce New York theatre audiences. to innovative new productions from the world of British theatre.
The New York run of the show opens at the 59E59 Theatres venue on Tuesday 14 May 2019 and continues daily (excluding Mondays) until Sunday 2 June 2019 (with matinee and evening shows on Saturdays). Tickets can be purchased online from the 59E59 Theatres site.
Compiled by Lucy Fleming With Lucy Fleming and Simon Williams
Posting Letters To The Moon is a romantic, funny, and 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).
Their daughter, Lucy Fleming, alongside her own husband, Simon Williams, reads these touching and amusing letters that tell of Celia’s experiences during the war: coping with a large isolated house full of evacuated children, learning to drive a tractor, dealing with rationing, holidays in Cornwall where she took to surfing, and all the while accepting offers, when she could get away, to act — for David Lean, Noël Coward, wartime propaganda films, and ultimately starring in the classic film Brief Encounter.
59E59 Theatres 59 East 59th Street New York, NY 10022 USA
Prior to, and following, their appearance at the festival in New York, Fleming and Williams continue performances of the show in the UK with dates at:
Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis DT7 3QB (26 April 2019) [tickets]
Churchill War Rooms, London SW1A 2AQ (8 May 2019) [invitation only]
Regal Theatre, Tenbury Wells WR15 8AE (20 June 2019) [venue]
Farnham Maltings, Farnham GU9 7QR (9 July 2019) [venue]
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 PUTS in a winning guest appearance in the second series of Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators currently showing on BBC One and available in the UK on the iPlayer.
The show is described as a “comedy drama about an oddball couple of private detectives who investigate crime in Stratford-upon-Avon.”
Lill appears in the fifth episode of series two “No More Cakes and Ale” as seventy-something farmer and plaintiff Eddie Dogberry. The Radio Times describes Lill’s appearance as follows:
Who is Eddie Dogberry? Late one night at Touchstone Farm, farmer Eddie was violent assaulted when he accosted three thieves attempting to steal his quad bike. Now the date for his court case has arrived, and he wants justice.
What else has Denis Lill been in? The actor is known for his role as Alan Parry in Only Fools and Horses. More recently, he starred as Mr Rose in TV series The Royal.
The episode will be available for streaming (in the UK) from the BBC’s iPlayer service until February 2020.
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!