The hunt for the quarry

By Rich Cross   Last updated on 25 January 2021, 08:36:58

The pleasures and perils of location hunting

The front vista of Hampton Court in Herefordshire - the principal filming location for the latter part of the first series of Survivors

 ONE OF THE many things which made Survivors such an impactful and atmospheric series was the programme’s reliance on real-world filming locations. Initially shot on 16mm film, and later recorded using an Outside Broadcast system for video recording, the show’s producer and his team of directors utilised locations across the UK, stretching from Dorset to the Scottish highlands.

The most extensively used area for locations was the county of Herefordshire. Dozens of filming locations can be found inside and just beyond the county boundaries, and both the ‘centres of operations’ for series one and series two can be found with Herefordshire postcodes: The Grange of series one (Hampton Court at Hope-under-Dinmore) and Whitecross (Callow Hill, near Welsh Newton Common).

 Organised fandom

The effort to track down, to identify and to visit filming locations is one that has animated and motivated enthusiasts for the series since the revival of organised fandom in the first half of the 1990s. To begin with, early location finds were shared on one of the small number of Survivors websites that had been set up by the end of the 1990s, and in the pages of Over the Hills (the first of a new series of Survivors print fanzines).

Dozens of Survivors filming locations can be found inside and just beyond the Herefordshire county boundaries

Rich Cross

Some of the earliest discoveries were made by Kevin Marshall, during the research period for his book The Making of Terry Nation’s Survivors, and by long-time fan Bob Meade, who arranged multiple visits to filming sites across the country (and across Herefordshire in particular) and identified numerous filming sites.

Bob's efforts would soon be built on and extended by the work of organisers and fellow location hunters such as Chris Barker, Adrian Hulme, Steve Brailsford, Guy Hawley, Colin Wilks and Mark Wheatley.

With the digital world in its infancy, the hunt for Survivors locations was mainly an analogue activity. It involved trying to jog the memory of cast and crew members, poring over Ordnance Survey maps in the hope of finding matching terrain, and a great deal of trying around the B-roads of Herefordshire on the look-up for a likely spot.

During those early years, discoveries came fast and in volume. Once Hampton Court Castle was confirmed to be the real-life location for The Grange from series one, many other nearby sites were quickly identified. The very fact that the original production team had to keep operations close to their Hampton Court base meant that the search area was more manageable for location hunters.

The first ever organised fan location visit was held in September 1996, and had been preceded by a number of scouting visits and the collation and sharing of known information. At the time, Hampton Court was undergoing refurbishment, having been acquired by a US Christian church, and was not open to the public. A prearranged visit to the work-in-progress site was the highpoint of the first visit.

 More sites confirmed

It was a year before the second Reunion was held, in Herefordshire, when the whereabouts of more sites had been confirmed, and a return through the still-closed gates of Hampton Court was arranged. Only a few months later, in the spring of 1998, came the first visit beyond Herefordshire organised as the first Reunion visit to the locations of Mad Dog saw fans gather in the Derbyshire Peak District.

With an impressive set of Mad Dog locations confirmed ahead of time (during a series of scouting trips), "Mad Dog 1988" began what became a long running series of Peak District reunions in fine style. Between 1998 and 2003, the whereabouts of all the at-the-time unknown filming locations were confirmed during subsequent fan visits.

After this, the frequency (and the logistical complexity) of Reunions increased. Between 1999 and 2003, events took place at sites across the UK several times a year. New locations were discovered and their precise details confirmed at several Reunions, while indispensable new leads were provided by meetings and through conversations with Survivors alumni.

But just as invaluable was the willingness of a few hardy and determined individuals who were willing to dedicate weekends to hours of driving and rambling across the British countryside in the hope of tracking down the elusive prize of a missing and long sought for location. The elation and satisfaction of finding one were a great reward for any intrepid location hunter, but as the list of the missing locations has become shorter and more exacting these discoveries have increasingly only come as the result of considerable expenditure of time and money and involved and no little frustration and disappointment.

For fans of the series, there's real pleasure to be found in locking in the whereabouts of a sought after Survivors filming location, and sharing the finding with other enthusiasts. But such eureka moments are often preceded by many days of fruitless searching and dead ends, hundreds of miles of driving, and hours of scrambling across fields, moors and muddy fields, in pursuit of a destination that refuses to be found.

The elation and satisfaction of finding one were a great reward for any intrepid location hunter

Rich Cross

The explosion of the social web has opened up new possibilities for location researchers online. It's been possible to share photos and other location information with other online communities of enthusiasts in likely areas to request help in tracking sites down. This method (combined with many hours on the road) has resulted in some impressive successes for Steve Clutterbuck in particular, who has achieved a high success rate in tracking down outstanding sites. He also interrogates literally anyone he encounters for any snippets of information that might provide new location leads.

 Still to be found

Even though the number of organised location visits, and the number of fans joining those visits, has declined quite sharply in recent years, there are still a handful of dedicated enthusiasts determined to nail the whereabouts of the last still-to-be-found Survivors locations. There’s no indication of them giving up the hunt.

Meanwhile, whether it’s a solo visit or a group trip, visiting the real life film sets used on Survivors remains one of the most rewarding and enjoyable activities open to fans of the series. Which is not to suggest that every single location selected by the show’s producers makes for an equally engrossing destination.

Places like "1 The Westway" (seen in The Fourth Horseman as Jenny crosses a traffic jammed road), sit adjacent to one of the busiest, noisiest and most congested multi-carriage roadway in central London. It’s a place that many fans may want to check in on and “tick off” from their personal “must visit” list. But it’s not a place that encourages the day-tripper to linger or which invites return visits.

Visiting the real life film sets remains one of the most rewarding and enjoyable activities open to fans

Rich Cross

In contrast, meandering through the interiors and grounds of Hampton Court, pausing on the Hole-in-the-Wall bridge over the River Wye in Herefordshire, or roaming the hillsides and striding through the valley of Monsal Dale in the Peak District, soaking up the atmosphere along the way, reward both time and the repetition of repeat visits.

The number of still-unaccounted-for locations has shrunk considerably in the last few years, and many on the still to find list as vexingly obscure and offer up few on screen clues as to their whereabouts. Sadly, the BBC Written Archive Centre holds very few production files for Survivors, which would be an obvious source of evidence. Despite the challenges, the search continues.

Cite this web page
17 June 2024202131 January

 Cross, R. (2021). 'The hunt for the quarry,' [online] Survivors: A World Away, 31 January. Available at: Accessed on: 17 June 2024.


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Terry Nation's Survivors

 Survivors is a 38-episode, three series British post-apocalyptic TV series, created by Terry Nation, and first shown on BBC 1 between 1975 and 1977

 Two Survivors novel were published in the UK, USA and Italy in the seventies: Terry Nation's part-novelisation of the first TV series Survivors was published in 1976; with John Eyers' original follow-up Genesis of a Hero appearing the following year

 A 12-episode, two series remake of Survivors was broadcast on BBC One between 2008 and 2010

 A 36-episode, nine series run of new and original Survivors audio adventures, set in the time and place of the original programme, were released by Big Finish between 2014 and 2019

 Terry Nation's Survivors novel was released as an audiobook, voiced by Carolyn Seymour, in 2014

 Genesis of a Hero was reprinted and republished as a paperback and as a Kindle title in 2015

 A sequel to Genesis of a Hero, entitled Survivors: Salvation, was published in February 2021

 A six-episode original audio drama, Survivors: New Dawn, set two decades on from The Death was released in two three story box sets by Big Finish in November 2021 and February 2022

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