Reviews of new Survivors audios now available

Survivors: New Dawn 1 - cover

REVIEWS OF THE new Big Finish Survivors audios New Dawn 1 and Ghosts and Demons have now been published on the Survivors: A World Away site.

Individual reviews of each of the three episodes in the first boxset of New Dawn 1, starring Carolyn Seymour, Lucy Fleming and Louise Jameson, are available: Tethered, My Generation and Behind You.

The first series of New Dawn retains the core sense of jeopardy that made the original post-Death context of Survivors so compelling. Yet it does in a way that is original and genuinely exhilarating. Imagining how the country might have moved on more than two decades after the pandemic provides Survivors with a new ‘what if’ premise that crackles with potential

Also published is a review of the new audiobook Ghosts and Demons, written by Ethan Milsea and narrated by Carolyn Seymour.

Survivors: Ghosts and Demons - cover

Ghosts and Demons is a fantastic addition to the audio literature of Survivors. Author Ethan Milsea uses the cautionary tale of the predatory Tommy as a means to explore the different fears and nightmares that haunt those who have experienced the trauma of The Death and survived. This story, which locks itself in to the first TV series’ timeline, delivers admirably on what can often be an elusive ambition: to be both in-keeping with the existing dramatic terrain and to break open new and fertile ground.

Survivors: New Dawn 1 is available to buy, in both CD and digital download formats, from the Big Finish site.

Survivors: Ghosts & Demons is now available to purchase as a digital download .

Survivors: New Dawn 2 will be released in February 2022 and is also available for pre-order. Both releases can be purchased, in both formats, as part of a Big Finish bundle.

Big Finish release details of Survivors: New Dawn 2

Survivors - Big Finish - Esther

BIG FINISH HAVE today (29 December 2021) released more details of the three stories that will make up the second-half of the Survivors: New Dawn audio series.

Due for release in February 2022, Survivors: New Dawn 2 will again feature Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant) and Lucy Fleming (Jenny Richards) in three episodes set two decades on from the events of the series nine Survivors audio boxset.

This concluding New Dawn boxset will begin with Lizbeth Myles ‘Bad Blood’. This will be followed by Andrew Smith’s ‘When First We Practise to Deceive’ before the story completes with Roland Moore’s ‘Last Stand’.

Big Finish’s press release is reproduced below:

The Survivors are in a race against the clock

Survivors: New Dawn continues some 20 years after the previous Big Finish series ended, with original TV series regulars Carolyn Seymour (as Abby Grant) and Lucy Fleming (as Jenny Richards) in a renewed fight for survival.

Based on Terry Nation’s BBC TV series which ran from 1975–77, Survivors is a post-apocalyptic drama concerning the plight of a group of people who have survived a worldwide plague. Since 2014, this audio continuation has been one of Big Finish’s most critically-acclaimed works, having been short-listed in nominations for both the 2015 and 2016 BBC Audio Drama Awards. 

Survivors: New Dawn 2 is now available to pre-order as a collector’s edition CD box set at £19.99 or £16.99 as a download exclusively here.   

The world as we know it has ended. The Death crossed continents, sparing only a fraction of the global population. The survivors are now trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild society to create a new future.

It’s been twenty years since the Death. Britain has a fledgling government based in Cambridge, and some transport and communications infrastructure has been re-established. International links are being forged, and people are looking to the future with hope. Unfortunately, the worst of human nature has survived along with the best.

Survivors: New Dawn 1 was released in November 2021, with this second set picking up from those events, as Abby and Jenny ride north to confront Governor Dominic Crayle with evidence of his crimes. 

The three exciting new episodes are: 

Bad Blood by Lizbeth Myles

Abby and Jenny are heading north when they’re thrown into the middle of a conflict between two rival factions. Learning someone has tried to assassinate the local Governor, is there anything they can do to prevent further violence and bloodshed?

When First We Practise to Deceive by Andrew Smith

Abby and Jenny reach the Zone controlled by Governor Dominic Crayle. He has serious questions to answer, but Crayle will go to any lengths to protect his secrets.

Last Stand by Roland Moore

In the overgrown remains of an abandoned city, a new friend helps Abby and Jenny make a last stand against a determined enemy.

Script editor Andrew Smith said: “This series pays off everything we set up in the first one. For Abby, there’s an element of revenge and she’s seeking justice, and Jenny, the Law Minister is there to see she gets it, but they are up against people trying to hide their wrongdoings. I couldn’t have asked for a better finale to Survivors.”

Writer Roland Moore added: “I figured that even though Survivors exists on the back of a deadly outbreak, listeners don’t really want to dwell on viruses at the moment. So the stories view the Death as a historic event – something that has resulted in loss and bereavement, but which is hopefully in the past.”

And writer Lizbeth Myles said: “It was awesome to write for a series I’d loved for so many years. Honestly, I tried very hard not to think about the current pandemic while writing. Like everyone else, I’ve found it enormously stressful and the current world circumstances made it rather more difficult work than usual.”

Survivors: New Dawn 2 is due for release in February 2022 and is now available to pre-order at £19.99 as a collector’s edition CD box set or £16.99 as a download from the Big Finish website.

Big Finish listeners can save more by ordering both Survivors: New Dawn box sets together as a bundle on CD at £38 and on digital download at £33.

All the above prices include the special pre-order discount and are subject to change after general release. 

Please note that Survivors contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners. 

Big Finish is currently operating a digital-first release schedule. The mail-out of collector’s edition CDs may be delayed due to factors beyond our control, but all purchases of this release unlock a digital copy that can be immediately downloaded or played on the Big Finish app from the release date. 

Released today: Survivors – New Dawn 1 audio boxset

BIG FINISH HAVE today (25 November 2021) release the new original Survivors audio boxset New Dawn 1 and new audiobook Ghosts and Demons.

Survivors: New Dawn 1 is available to buy, in both CD and digital download formats, from the Big Finish site.

New audiobook Survivors: Ghosts & Demons, narrated by Carolyn Seymour, is now available to purchase as a digital download .

Survivors: New Dawn 2 will be released in February 2022 and is also available for pre-order. Both releases can be purchased, in both formats, as part of a Big Finish bundle.

A New Dawn Rises for Survivors

Based on Terry Nation’s BBC TV series which ran from 1975-77, Survivors is a post-apocalyptic drama concerning the plight of a group of people who have survived a worldwide plague.

Survivors: New Dawn 1 picks up a couple of decades after the previous Big Finish series with original TV series regulars Carolyn Seymour (as Abby Grant) and Lucy Fleming (as Jenny Richards) in a renewed fight for survival. This new box sets also features Louise Jameson (as Jackie Burchall), Belinda Lang (as Celia Tate) and Clive Hayward (as John Bedwell).  

Survivors: New Dawn 1 is now available to own as a collector’s edition CD box set at £19.99 or £16.99 as a download exclusively from this website (Big Finish).

The world has ended. The Death crossed continents, sparing only a fraction of the global population. The survivors are now trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild society to create a new future. 

It’s been twenty years since the Death and fifteen years since Abby Grant and Jenny Richards went their separate ways. Britain has a fledgling government based in Cambridge, and some transport and communications infrastructure has been re-established. International links are being forged, and people are looking to the future with hope. But this new order is more fragile than it appears. The worst of human nature has survived along with the best. 

Tethered by Andrew Smith 

Abby Grant is heading home on a tragic mission when she meets an apparent Good Samaritan, who may be nothing of the sort. And in Cambridge, the seat of the New Federal Government, the Prime Minister tasks Law Minister Jenny Richards with a secret assignment. Both women soon find themselves in deadly peril. 

My Generation by Katharine Armitage 

Abby is on the run, and Jenny risks her future to protect her. An old friend, Jackie Burchall, is also eager to help. But when Abby falls in with an activist group called The Veil, it jeopardises everyone. 

Behind You by Roland Moore 

Abby remembers Leonard Cross as the awful children’s entertainer who came to one of her son’s birthday parties before the Death. She doesn’t expect to find herself relying on him as she recovers from injury and tragedy. And he may be even more awful than she knows… 


Carolyn Seymour said: “The challenges facing the survivors in the original TV series were almost insuperable but somehow, every time, there was a little glimmer of hope that came through that good will out and bad will be defeated.  

“Trying to wrench myself back into that part of my life was tough. I’m much less hot-headed than I was in those days. It was hard getting back there but these scripts have been very sensitively written. It’s been a great time.” 

Lucy Fleming added: “I think Abby and Jenny are quite different characters. Abby is quite driven but Jenny has a softer side. But they’ve evolved and come together more. They’ve been getting their heads down and working hard and getting these communities together.  

 “Maybe when we were younger, when we were doing the television series, we were not so sensitive as we are now. Also, the world has changed.” 

Survivors: New Dawn 1 is now available to own as a collector’s edition CD box set at £19.99 or £16.99 as a download here

Accompanying the box set is a brand new audiobook, Survivors: Ghosts and Demons, written by Ethan Milsea and read by Carolyn Seymour, which is available as a download only at £9.99. 

Big Finish Survivors audio sale – this week only

Big Finish - Survivors audios - sale runs from 22 November to 28 November 2021

AHEAD OF THE release of the new Survivors audiobook and audio drama boxset later this month, Big Finish are offering large discounts on all previous releases in the company’s Survivors audio range.

Discounts are available on all nine series of full-cast Survivors audios and the audiobook version of Terry Nation’s 1976 Survivors novel, narrated by Carolyn Seymour.

All releases are available in both CD and digital download formats (with the exception of series one, first released back in 2014 and now out-of-print on CD).

Best value of all comes with the range of bundles that are available. As CDs are the mostly heavily discounted items, it’s possible to acquire all nine series and the audiobook on CD for less than £100.

These Survivors offers are available exclusively from the Big Finish site until 23:59, UK time, on 28 November 2021.

Forthcoming releases

New audiobook Survivors: Ghosts & Demons will be released as a digital download, and is available to pre-order now.

New full-cast boxset Survivors: New Dawn 1 is also available for pre-order, in both CD and digital download formats.

Survivors: New Dawn 2 will be released in February 2022 and is also available for pre-order. Both releases can also be pre-ordered, in both formats, as part of a Big Finish bundle.

BIG FINISH PODCAST (2021-11-21 NINTH SURVIVORS)

In the latest Big Finish podcast, hosts Nick Briggs and Benji Clifford preview the release later this week of Survivors: New Dawn 1. The pair discuss their enthusiasm for working on the series; the significance of the time-shift that New Dawn is premised on; consider the approach to music and sound design on the release; and share their evident pleasure at the return to the Survivors fray of Lucy Fleming (Jenny Richards) and Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant).

Survivors: New Dawn, ghosts and demons beckon

BIG FINISH HAVE released new information about the two new Survivors audios scheduled for release next month: the full-cast audio series Survivors: New Dawn 1 and the narrated audiobook Survivors: Ghosts and Demons.

The new issue of Big Finish’s free magazine Vortex (No 152, October 2021) includes a three page preview of Survivors: New Dawn 1, which combines interviews with writers Andrew Smith, Katharine Armitage and Roland Moore. All three interviewees reflect on the opportunities and challenges of imagining how the country depicted in the 1970s’ TV series might have evolved in a parallel post-Death 1990s.

Released today (18 October) is the first trailer for the new audiobook Ghosts and Demons, written by Ethan Milsea and voiced by Carolyn Seymour. This snippet from the book – set at the time of the original TV series – hints at intriguing parallels between the the storyline of Ghosts and Demons and the plot of the second TV series episode A Friend in Need, written by Survivors cast member Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston).

Survivors: Ghosts & Demons will be released as a digital download, and is available to pre-order now.

Survivors: New Dawn 1 is also available for pre-order, in both CD and digital download formats, from the Big Finish site.

Survivors: New Dawn 2 will be released in February 2022 and is also available for pre-order. Both releases can also be pre-ordered, in both formats, as part of a Big Finish bundle.

Robert Gillespie launches new book of reminiscences

ROBERT GILLESPIE, WHO appeared in two separate roles in Survivors, is about to publish his second book of reminiscences about “a life in sitcom, TV, film and theatre”.

Gillespie’s first role in Survivors came in 1975 in the third episode Gone Away, when he featured as John Milner – a reluctant member of Wormley’s militia, who is disarmed by Jenny Richards at the Cash-and-Carry stand-off, and who later enables Abby, Greg and Jenny to escape after the gang track down their centre of operations at the church.

Gillespie returned to Survivors in 1977, featuring in three episodes of the third series as Sam Meade, a recovering heroin addict who is determined to prevent the return of power and industry in post-Death Britain. As Charles’ group works to bring the first Scottish hydroelectric station online, would-be saboteur Meade falls to his death in the plant’s inlet turbines.

Two roles

No other actor in the original Survivors appeared in two completely distinct and unconnected roles.

Gillespie’s new book Are You Going to do That Little Jump?, is a sequel to a first volume of recollections from a supporting and character actor’s life and career published in 2017. “Robert was pleased enough with sales to launch part two which picks up where part one left off,” his publicist explains. “Part one was mostly about theatre, but part two has more of a focus on TV and film” and in particular his career in sitcom.

This new volume does include a “passing reference” to Gillespie’s work on Survivors and a photo of him as Sam Meade. “His memories of the production are hazy”, the publicist concedes, “but he does talk about going down a live mine shaft whilst on location.” That would have been during the production of The Enemy, the first episode in which Meade’s character appears.

Book launch

As part of the promotional campaign, Gillespie is hosting a “big bash book launch” featuring “chats, clips and Q&As” at 19:00 on 6 October 2021. Advanced registration for the event is available online.

Ordering details for Are You Going to do That Little Jump? will be available shortly. “Robert is launching a new website very soon,” the publicist explains. It is anticipated that the book will be available for sale direct from Gillespie’s site. The new website will also offer “extensive archive material” from across the actor’s decades’ long career.

Robert Fyfe (Phillipson, Gone Away) dies aged 90

ROBERT DOUGLAS FYFE, who appeared in the third episode of the first series of Survivors, has died at the age of 90.

Fyfe became best known to TV viewers for his longstanding role as the timid lothario Howard in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. Fyfe first appeared in a stage production of the show in 1984. The following year, Fyfe joined the regular TV cast, and remained part of the series’ ensemble until the final episode broadcast in 2010.

Born in Scotland in 1930, Fyfe’s TV career began in the early 1960s with small roles in shows like The Big Pull (1962) and Moonstrike (1963). It was a pattern that continued through the sixities and into the early 1970s. He secured one-off appearances in The Onedin Line (1971), The Regiment (1972) and The View from Daniel Pike (1972) and many other series.

In keeping

Fyfe’s single episode turn in Survivors was very much in keeping with his pattern of working at that time. In the early 1980s, he would appear in one-off roles in series including Angels (1980), Third Time Lucky (1982) and Jury (1983). Being cast in Last of the Summer Wine was a career-changer for Fyfe, who would go on to appear in 230 episodes of the sitcom.

The role would open up new opportunities for Fyfe, who would secure a recurring role in No Strings (1989), a short run in Coronation Street (2012) and minor and supporting roles in the films Burke and Hare (2010), The Decoy Bride (2011) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016).

Fyfe (pictured right, above) appeared in Survivors episode Gone Away (1975) in the role of Phillipson, a survivor who has a brief confrontation with Tom Price after the young boy in his care helps himself to a chicken that Price has shot dead at an abandoned farm that he looted.

Taking shelter

Price chases the boy down a hillside to a make-shift encampment where the young lad and Phillipson are taking shelter. “The boy needs food,” Phillipson pleads when Price attempts to take the chicken carcass back.

Price is soon scared off when Phillipson raises the risk of infection, warning him that the pair may by typhoid carriers. Price leaves, abandoning the chicken (and the ailing human pair) to their fate. When he later discusses the encounter with Greg, he portrays himself as a selfless and merciful individual who willingly gave up the bird on the basis of greater need.

When Abby learns that the young lad was a schoolboy, of about her missing son’s age wering a blazer, she insist on visiting the site with Jenny and Greg. When Greg discovers that both Phillipson and the boy have died, Abby is both distressed and relieved to discover that the dead child is not Peter Grant.

As Phillipson corpse was not shown on screen, Fyfe was not required by director Terence Williams for the night shoot. His is a very brief appearance in Survivors, but Fyfe’s peformance in Gone Away hits just the right combination of desperation and resignation. In terms of the wider concerns of the series at the point, Phillipson’s fate serves to reinforce the theme that immunity from The Death is no guarantee of survival in its aftermath.

Robert Fyfe (25 September 1930 – 15 September 2021)

Morris Perry – an actor’s life

THE RESPECTED CHARACTER actor Morris Perry, who died on 19 September 2021 at the age of 96, enjoyed a long and diverse career on television and on the stage.

Fans of Survivors are likely to know Perry best from his extraordinarily well-judged performance in the third series episode Mad Dog as the misanthrope former academic Dr Richard Fenton. But this kind of exemplary character acting was the signature of a small-screen career that spanned several decades.

On TV, Perry was rarely – if ever – awarded “leading man” status. But he excelled in those supporting and guest roles that required presence, substance and intellectual or emotional intelligence – and, when the script required it, a sense of controlled menace.

Television remained a perennial feature of Perry’s working life. But while TV acting gave him the most national exposure, it was love of the theatre that shaped Perry’s career more significantly. “There’s no doubt the theatre is much more interesting, most of the time,” he reflected later.

Stage and screen

Born on 28 March 1925 in Bromley, Kent (as Frank Morris Perry), as a young man he learnt his acting craft at The Old Vic Theatre School, “one of the most successful and well-respected conservatoire drama schools in the UK”. In 1953, Perry married the British actress Margaret Ashcroft. The couple had four children, and remained together until Ashcroft’s death in 2016.

After graduating from The Old Vic, Perry began a career that combined work on stage and screen. In the theatre, Perry pursued his deep interest in the writings of Shakespeare, appearing in numerous productions of The Bard’s work.

He excelled in those supporting and guest roles that required presence, substance and intellectual or emotional intelligence

In the late 1950s, Perry appeared in minor and supporting roles in a number of TV productions, including The Man Who Was Two (1956), Charlesworth at Large (1958) and The Life and Death of Sir John Falstaff (1959). During the 1960s, Perry continued to feature in similar one-off appearances in TV shows, including Sergeant Cork (1964) and The Protectors (1964).

But he had also begun to secure more substantial small-screen commissions. In 1964, he appeared as Baron Danglars, the instigator of the plot to frame Dantès for treason, in a BBC serialisation of The Count of Monte Cristo, adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ novel. He took the role of Dr. Heddle in the 1966 BBC serial Lord Raingo, an adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s fictionalised account his wartime government service, which starred Kenneth Moore; and in 1967 appeared as the Reverend Philip Nyren in the serial Witch Hunt, a story of pastoral isolation threatened by the spectre of the black arts.

Recurring TV roles

During the 1970s, Perry’s TV career reached a new peak, with substantial and recurring roles in shows such as the police serial Special Branch (1969-1970), Doctor Who (“Colony in Space”, 1971), The Sweeney (1975-1976), and Secret Army (1979). “Around that period I did quite a lot of telly,” he remembered later. “So you’re sort of ‘known’ by people”, he suggested – most usefully by television producers and directors.

One such TV director Michael Briant, who hired Perry to appear in “Colony in Space”, said of his passing: “he was such a powerful man both physically and mentally. I liked and admired him greatly.”

Morris Perry was 52 when director Tristan de Vere Cole hired him to appear in one of the three episodes of the third series of Survivors he had been commissioned by producer Terry Dudley to deliver. The world-weary, cynical and dismissive former academic Doctor Richard Fenton, instrumental to every strand of the fabric of Mad Dog, was a first-class creation. A superbly crafted role, Fenton was gifted with finely honed dialogue throughout what was arguably writer Don Shaw‘s most accomplished script for the show. Yet it was Perry’s acutely observed portrayal of this most cynical of hermits that made his single appearance in Survivors so memorable and so impactful.

“At the time I hadn’t seen any episodes of the series”, he recalled many years afterwards. “I watched some later and it appealed to me. It’s a rich theme – humanity released from its usual restraints in a melancholy English landscape.”

Everyone involved with the (wholly location based) production of Mad Dog acknowledges that it was a tough and demanding shoot – with cast and crew required to work on day and night shoots in the wilds of the Derbyshire Peak District in the depths of a freezing winter. Leading man Denis Lill (Charles Vaughan) later recalled that the episode was “one of the most exhausting jobs I have ever done” with physical demands that were akin to “living on an assault course”.

Perry’s acutely observed portrayal of this most cynical of hermits made his single appearance in Survivors so memorable

But alongside Lill, Perry had an especially demanding time of it – required to depict the suffering of a rabies carrier in the full throes of contagion; to be bound and dragged prone through slush and snow; to be drenched in icy water; and finally to collapse to the freezing mud after Fenton is shot and killed.

When Shaw visited the shoot at Monsal Dale and Ilam, he was deeply impressed by Perry’s uncomplaining commitment to the demands of the role. When he met him again, during one of Perry’s appearance in a production of Shakespeare at Stratford, he reminded him of the challenges of the shoot. “My god, you were hours being dragged around by a horse in the snow… supposed to be suffering from rabies – you must have been absolutely frozen.” Shaw remembers that Perry was sanguine. “‘Well’, he said, ‘it comes with the job – you do it.'”

An agreeable shoot

When talking to fans, Perry was keen to downplay any sense that the actors suffered the privations of the cold on Mad Dog. “They usually have blankets standing by for that kind of thing,” he explained. “There are members of the crew who dash after you as soon as you’ve stopped filming and throw things over you – and your horse! And then take them away again before you’re on to the next take.” While he did accept that “it was good to get back to the hotel where I remember low rafters and real blazing fires”, his abiding memory of working on Mad Dog was that he “found it very agreeable.”

In August 2005, at the age of eighty Morris Perry was reunited with director Tristan de Vere Cole at a sound studio in London to record an audio commentary for Mad Dog, for inclusion in the special features of the DDHE DVD release of the third series of Survivors. The following day, Perry joined the cast of his next London-based theatrical production to continue working.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to moderate that Mad Dog commentary session, and was greatly impressed by the detailed reminiscences of both these Survivors‘ alumni of a one-week shoot that they were involved with some 28 years earlier. It was such a pleasure to be able to contribute, in a small way, to the creation of a ‘time capsule’ of memories of what, for many fans of Survivors, is one of the most highly regarded episodes of the show’s three year run.

Perry’s theatre work continued unabated in the decades following Survivors, over time eclipsing his more infrequent TV appearances. “I haven’t done much telly lately,” he noted in a letter from the late 1990s. “I seemed to be into priests and judges for a bit but that’s dried up.” At the same time, theatrical roles, large and small, continued to draw his interest. “I did my second King Lear recently at The Tabard,” he explained in the same correspondence. “Currently, I’m doing a butler in An Ideal Husband at The Old Vic.”

Perry was keen to downplay any sense that the actors suffered the privations of the cold on Mad Dog

Throughout this, his close attention to the nature of the actor’s craft remained keenly in focus. Reflecting on roles in The Merchant of Venice and The Honest Whore at the signature Globe Theatre in 1998, he observed: “It’s important to get really prepared to go on stage, getting the mind right. It means getting your imagination into a state that is responsive. You probably need to be much more alert than usual.” 

Perry’s intellectual curiosity, and in particular his fascination with words and language, continued through his eighties and into his nineties. “He’s the kind of chap who is… learning Latin and Ancient Greek in his spare time”, Toby Hadoke noted, when promoting a podcast interview with Perry in 2016.

Those who worked with Morris Perry are most likely to recall a gregarious actor possessed of talent, quiet professionalism and a warm and self-effacing demeanour. To return to the words of Don Shaw, Morris Perry can quite properly be remembered as a: “Great trooper, wonderful actor, and a delight to work with.”

Morris Perry (28 March 1925 – 19 September 2021) 

Morris Perry (Fenton, Mad Dog) dies aged 96

Tristan de Vere Cole and Morris Perry at the Survivors series three DVD special features studio day in 2005

MORRIS PERRY, THE celebrated theatre and television actor who played the role of the misanthrope Dr Richard Fenton in the acclaimed third series Survivors episode Mad Dog, has died at the age of 96.

Expressing his sadness of Perry’s passing, Toby Hadoke praised him as: “A very subtle actor with presence and elan, memorable in so much excellent TV.”

An appreciation of the stage and screen life of Morris Perry will be published on this site in the next few days.

Photo: Director Tristan de Vere Cole (left) and actor Morris Perry reunited at a London studio in 2005 to record an audio commentary track for the episode Mad Dog for inclusion in the DDHE DVD release of the third series of Survivors. Credit: Rich Cross

Hitching a ride on the Mad Dog steam engine

Engine 48773 on the Severn Valley Railway, arriving at Hampton Loade station on August 30 2001

TWENTY YEARS AGO today (30 August), Survivors fans began a four-day location trip – in the midst of a Foot and Mouth epidemic – with a visit to the Severn Valley Railway.

But it’s only in the last couple of months that it’s become clear that – even though those present were not aware if it – the attendees on this Reunion enjoyed an additional Survivors‘ location experience.

The steam locomotive pulling the train that the Survivors aficionados boarded at Kidderminster station, and which took them to Hampton Loade station, was the original engine used for the filming of Mad Dog back in 1977. It’s the train on which Charles Vaughan escapes his pursuers in the Peak District before arriving, exhausted and unconscious, at this same station.

The reason that the connection was not apparent at the time of the trip was that the locomotive (which bore the number 8233 at the time Mad Dog was filmed) was later reassigned its original service number 48773. This fact was confirmed as part of a return visit to the Severn Valley Railway during the Mad Dog 2019 location trip. It was not until a recent rewatch of Adrian Hulme’s video memento of the 2001 trip that the significance of the previously disregarded engine number suddenly became apparent.

This means that, while it was engine 8233 that was Charles’ salvation in Mad Dog, and it was engine 48773 that pulled the train from Kidderminster to Hampton Loade on 30 August 2001 – it’s one and the same engine.

Engine 8233 / 48773 has since been withdrawn from service and is currently on display in the SVR engine house adjacent to Highley Station pending a full overhaul and complete refurbishment.

So while there’s no prospect of fans being able to take another trip courtesy of the pulling power of the ‘Mad Dog express’ any time soon, one lucky group of enthusiasts already enjoyed that experience some twenty years ago today – even if they had no idea of their luck at the time.

Survivors fans on the platform at Hampton Loade station on August 30 2001
The sign for Hampton Loade station, taken on August 30 2001
Survivors fans at Kidderminster station on August 30 2001