LYNNE SWEETMAN, A long-term Survivors fan, and someone who organised and took an active part in Survivors fan activities since the 1990s, has died.
As part of a group of new Survivors enthusiasts who made contact with each other through small ads and convention appearances, Lynne played an important role in building the momentum of a new wave of Survivors fandom that was triggered by the screening of the series on cable-satellite station UK Gold and the release of the first series on sell-through VHS cassette in 1993.
Lynne became involved in supporting the work of the two first Survivors print fanzines Over the Hills (1994-1998), set up by Carole Stevens, and Whitecross Calling (1997), which she co-edited with founder Mark Wheatley. At a time when the internet remained in its infancy, Lynne put a great deal of effort into trying to make contact with Survivors cast and crew members by post and telephone. She had an impressive success rate, and was able to develop and maintain a network of contacts and connections with many of those associated with the production of the show. Lynne carried out, or otherwise helped to make possible, a number of important early interviews, including two memorable face-to-face encounters with Roger Monk (Pete) and Lorna Lewis (Pet Simpson), and later a solo catch-up with Chris Tranchell (Paul Pitman).
When uncertainty surrounding the future publication of both Over the Hills and Whitecross Calling risked the loss of an important conduit for information about the series, in early 1998 Lynne set up the Bridgehead newsheet. Initially this was an irregular two-sided A4 photocopied sheet which provided news about cast appearances (on-screen and on-stage) and other updates, which was distributed to readers who pre-supplied a stack of stamped-addressed-envelopes.
Over time, Bridgehead developed into the more substantial and subscription-based Survivors Newsletter, which contained short features, news stories, reviews and details about Survivors filming location visits, which became known as ‘Reunions’. Lynne became a regular attendee at numerous Reunions in Herefordshire, London, the Derbyshire Peak District and elsewhere during the height of their popularity between 1997 and 2003. She also attended a number of theatre appearances by actors from the series, and enjoyed the opportunity to meet up and socialise with cast members after performances.
Adrian Hulme, an organiser of Reunion events since the 1990s, emphasises how important the launch of Bridgehead was. “If it wasn’t for Lynne, fandom would have waned after the closure of Whitecross Calling,” he suggests. “The internet sustains it now, but without the efforts of Lynne and a small number of other keen and capable organisers, I don’t think it would still be going,” he adds. “Lynne’s contribution to keeping that fan momentum continuing was very significant.”
The Survivors Newsletter, maintained a broadly regular quarterly publication schedule for over a decade. No other print-based Survivors fan publication came close to matching this publication achievement. Things began to slow down in 2009, with the Survivors Newsletter appearing less frequently over the next four years before the final issue (No 72) appeared in April 2013.
Together with the print edition, the Survivors Newsletter existed alongside a number of online versions of the publication. Beginning with a collaboration with Chris Barker’s Felbridge Camp site, several independent newsletter web sites were set up on a variety of different internet platforms over the years. With print publication finished, the Survivors Newsletter set up a presence on Facebook and, alongside current news and updates, began to print selected extracts from the newsletter archives.
As personal health issues became more pressing, plans to produce a Kindle-based version of the newsletter went unrealised. The same concerns left Lynne unable to participate in the more recent Reunion events. The next Hampton Court Survivors Reunion will take place on 26-27 May 2018, and organiser Sean Ambler confirmed on 5 January that the event will be dedicated to Lynne’s memory, with the gathering of fans and the setting providing “a fitting place to hear and talk about everyone’s Survivors moments with her.”
Lynne Sweetman died on 4 January 2018
Photo of Lynne by Adrian Hulme
Poster by Steve Clutterbuck