In an exclusive interview, Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant) and Lucy Fleming (Jenny Richards) discuss their characters’ fraught and emotional reunion in the closing episode of the new series of Big Finish’s Survivors audio adventures.
FOLLOWING ON FROM the finale of series six “Lockdown”, which saw Abby Grant track down Greg Preston, series seven of Big Finish’s new Survivors audio dramas delivers the no-less-anticipated reunion of Abby Grant and Jenny Richards. The two leading female characters from the original TV series meet up in the episode “Reconnection”, written by Christopher Hatherall, which unfolds some months after the closing canonical instalment of the TV series “Power”.
In a break in recording, Lucy Fleming (Jenny) is quick to praise Hatherall and his fellow scriptwriters working on this latest series. “Big Finish are a very special lot of people, and they work so hard,” she says. “The quality of the writing, and the thought that goes into which way to take the story forward, is incredible.”
Carolyn Seymour (Abby) readily concurs. “The people who write this stuff are just amazing,” she enthuses. That writing team has “got to know the characters,” says Fleming “and know how to write to their individual strengths and weaknesses.” On a series with such “dark” subject matter, the writers understand the importance of lighter moments too. “Finding humour in very tough situations – because we do have, in these scripts, very tough situations – really helps, I think,” she adds.
The reunion of these characters, both emotionally scarred by the experience of loss, is not an immediately happy one, as the pair fling accusations at each other and Abby (temporarily) retreats into drunken self-recrimination. “What I like, in these very action-packed stories, are the quieter and more intimate scenes, like the very challenging one we’re about to record,” Fleming explains. It’s in those reflective moments that the stories “explore the real problems that people are having to confront in this new world,” she says.
Big Finish have responded to Lucy Fleming’s request to have Jenny’s more pro-active, independent side highlighted
Seymour agrees. “I think what’s really interesting about this episode is how it unfolds on a very truthful level,” she says. “It’s not abstract, it really gets to the nitty-gritty.” As the two survivors seek to reconcile their differences, Seymour says that scriptwriter Hatherall “has decided that we’re not going to be able to skirt over important issues that we have to deal with.” It’s an approach that makes for some intentionally disquieting and some “quite uncomfortable” listening, she says. In the end, each character understands that “one of them will always end up supporting the other,” a recognition that rekindles their close connection and mutual dependence.
Fleming is pleased that Big Finish have responded to her request to have Jenny’s more pro-active, independent side highlighted and her domestic responsibilities downplayed. “It’s very gratifying,” she says. “And I think it’s the right call. In those sort of situations, you would become more resourceful and want to get out and do more demanding things, rather than stay at home and do the boring stuff.” Seymour is not immediately convinced. “Well, Lucy might,” she suggests. “I’d be quite happy to have Abby stay at home by the fire,” she jokes. “Jenny could be out there chopping wood and ploughing the fields!”
The pair are just as impressed with the calibre of the guest actors brought in to work on the show. “They’re so clever at getting fantastic supporting cast in,” Seymour says. “I’m just stunned at the level of talent.” With recording on series seven largely completed back-to-back with series six, it proved to be a lengthier studio commitment than normal. “I had one episode a couple of weeks ago, and then this one, and then one ages ago. So, it’s nicely spread out for me, which I prefer actually,” says Fleming. Seymour, in contrast, had recorded three episodes in as many intensive days. “That doesn’t matter to me,” she says. “It’s great. I love it.” Fleming is unsurprised. “Nothing phases Carolyn,” she suggests.
As the events of “Reconnection” conclude, the framework of the TV series has well and truly been left behind. Had either of them ever wondered what had become of their characters after the end of the television timeline? “We did talk about that a lot, at the time, when we were making the TV series,” Seymour recalls. “We wondered what our trio might go on to do next. But once I left, I stopped.” Fleming suggests that the focus was much more short-term than that. “It was really all about surviving,” she says. “There wasn’t really much thinking about ‘OK, in an ideal world, what would you do next?’ It remained a question of how – and if – you would survive.”
If Abby and Jenny are going to be together, and running a commune, then it means that things need to move ahead,” Seymour affirms
With the story arcs for series eight and nine still under wraps, neither know for certain if the following two Survivors box-sets will push the timeline on into the future. “I think they’re planning to keep things going forward,” Fleming suggests. “If Abby and Jenny are going to be together, and running a commune, then it means that things need to move ahead,” Seymour affirms. “That way we could get to deal with more of what the end part of the first TV series was all about.”
What would that mean for the character of Greg Preston (played by Ian McCulloch), who features in series seven in flashback, and via tape recordings, in Simon Clark’s “Legacy”? Greg is reported to have died by the time of the penultimate television episode “Long Live the King”. “I don’t know, actually,” Fleming admits. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”