Home > Characters > Paul Thornley (John ['Vinnie'] Vincent)
Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
I think it takes an awful long time to evolve democracy and rule of law – as we are still seeing all over the world
The world of Survivors is a pretty tough and unforgiving place. Somewhere that suits the character of Vinnie pretty well then?
It's a bit of a brutal thought – but, unfortunately, I imagine that the people that did survive 'the end of the world' would find themselves in a Lord of the Flies type scenario. Stability is a very, very difficult thing, and takes an awful long time to establish; and there is an awful lot of pain and suffering to get there. So, unfortunately, I do feel that there would be 'Vinnies' that would come to some sort of power, for a while.
Even today, you read these surveys in the news showing a vast percentage of the population who think we should bring back executions and capital punishment. People's knee-jerk reactions to things are fairly terrifying.
Could you say a little bit about the character of Vinnie?
I do feel that there would be 'Vinnies' that would come to some sort of powerPaul Thornley
He's a lovely chap! You'd want to go on holiday with him [Laughs]. The truth of it is that Vinnie is absolutely fuelled by rage and hatred. But he justifies that with this warped moral code.
He is racist; he is homophobic. Before The Death, he was a football hooligan. His dad had died some disease that he caught abroad as a sailor. He's made this link that that's because it's the fault of foreigners. It's all about that. And, for him, that's become a mantra: "foreigners equal disease". And obviously the plague is the worst of all diseases. So, to Vinnie, it's very obvious: "If we keep it as us, then we'll be fine. Protect your own."
There is a revealing speech in episode two, where Vinnie talks about his dad. It does give you a better understanding of how he has become the way he has become. He is not a blanket "nutter", there is a humanity about him. And that is what is always so scary about any fundamentalist of any denomination – that we blanket them as though "they're just nutters". There is something that has led all these people to behave in the way that they behave. And that's what's fascinating. It doesn't mean that you have to condone it, but the question of how someone ended up like that - that's what we need to find out.
Is there anyone who moderates Vinnie; who will challenge his rage and his indignance? Or is he a man who is just unfettered?
He thinks of himself as a 'great thinker', and as an astute mind. He sees Abby as the same. He sees something in her, and he can't quite understand why she can't see it in him. "The two of us – we could be great together!" - he reckons. So I think he cherry picks certain people who he perceives as on something approaching an equal footing to him – not his equal, but not that far beneath him.
It's always said that the villains are the best characters to play. Listening to the performances today, the conflicts being played out in this story sound fantastic. Is Vinnie as much fun to play as he sounds?
Oh, I mean – it's great. Yeah, it's great. Getting to play extremes – you don't get to do that very often. The British always hold things back, hold things in. Whereas good old Vinnie lets it all out.
I love doing any kind of audio work in those Big Finish recording booths. There is no specific thing that I prefer, I just like doing good work, and good characters and things that you can get your teeth into.
Vinnie thinks of himself as a 'great thinker', and as an astute mindPaul Thornley
Some of the language that Vinnie uses is pretty shocking - some of his epithets and his abusive terms. How carefully did you have to judge how far you could go with the words coming out of Vinnie's mouth?
If you watch something like EastEnders and there's two people having a blazing row they'll be calling each other "toe-rags". And it just breaks the credibility of the scene. It takes you out of the action, because you then become acutely aware that people are being censored. While I in no way condone Vinnie's type of language in everyday use, it is important in this story for people to get the full extent of what this character is about, and the realism of it. And it's very clear that he's not a nice chap. We're not condoning his attitudes or behaviour, but I feel that it's important to be true to the nature of Vinnie. I've been approaching it by thinking: "What would Vinnie say in that situation?", and trying to be true to that idea.
What picture do you think Vinnie has of himself and of his behaviour?
I think he would say that his way is a means to an end. I think that, at the point we meet him, he's feeling quite good about life. This was what he was born to do, he thinks, and he's doing it. Beforehand, being part of a football firm and winning a few fights – that was one thing. But this - this is on a different scale. For Vinnie, this is great.
Has Vinnie got any survival skills? He's got the strength, the clarity of vision – but is he a practical fella? Can he grow stuff, can he make stuff, can he build stuff? As a survivor, if he wasn't bossing everybody about, would he be a useful fellow to have around?
Definitely. People listen to him. But I think he'd rather tell other people what to do than do it himself. But I think – yeah, he's a more than capable survivor.
The ninth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"There's still great potential here, as the UK begins to emerge from the dark ages of The Death, for more stories set in this uniquely realised dystopia, should sufficient numbers of those who have yet to purchase copies of this extraordinary audio series belatedly recognise the error of their ways. If that doesn't happen, this will remain a stunning finale for what must be celebrated as a consistently compelling audio drama, 5/5"
The eight series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"This latest boxset delivers an impressive mix of large scale, high stakes and small scale, intimate stories which set in motion the events which will come to an explosive conclusion in the final set in this current run of post-apocalyptic dramas, 5/5 " - Cultbox
The seventh series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"At times harrowing, at other moments uplifting, and never anything other than completely riveting listening, this latest series of Survivors audios delivers drama that is simply unmissable. As the series leaves behind the timeline of the TV incarnation of the show, Big Finish's writers, cast and crew are all clearly brimming with fully deserved confidence. The two series of new Survivors audios coming in 2018 could scarcely be a more exciting or (in the best sense of the word) a more unpredictable prospect, 10/10" - Starburst
The sixth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"After five extraordinarily well-received box sets, each of which offered a self-contained and themed collection of four episodes, the sixth series of Survivors audio adventures confidently takes a fresh approach... It's a liberating shift in format and, under the keenly judged direction of Ken Bentley, these scripts make exceptional use of the opportunity to tell diverse, if equally compelling, standalone stories, 10/10" - Starburst
The fifth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"As it explores the highest stakes possible, this develops into the most thrilling and compelling set of stories in Big Finish's Survivors series to date: which, considering the exceptional quality of the drama in the preceding four instalments, is quite some achievement. This is extraordinary, exemplary human drama; by any standard, 10/10" - Starburst
The fourth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"Intelligent, literate and superbly scripted and performed, this is a post-apocalyptic drama of the highest possible calibre. Determined to avoid the predictable tropes of that genre, it invites its listeners to navigate a moral minefield in a way that few other dramas of this type would attempt. This comes recommended without reservation" - Starburst
The third series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
The second series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
A full-length audiobook of Terry Nation's Survivors novel (in CD and download formats) read by Carolyn Seymour.
The first series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
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