STEVE BRAILSFORD, ONE of the catalysts responsible for the emergence of organised Survivors fandom in the 1990s and active within it ever since, has died.
Long-time friend and fellow Survivors fan activist Adrian Hulme writes:
Many of those involved with the world of Survivors fandom since the 1990s will have connected with Steve Brailsford at some point. Those who knew Steve well, and who counted him as a friend, will be deeply saddened at his untimely passing.
Steve made a massive contribution to Survivors fandom. From the start he was heavily involved, and continued in a major way for well over 20 years. A true fan till the end, he had most recently been running the Survivors Newsletter Facebook page.
An enthusiast for the programme since it was first shown on BBC1 in 1975, Steve later recalled that although he “loved Abby, Greg and Jenny’s characters”, he was especially pleased by the arrival of Paul Pitman in Spoil of War – “probably identifying him with my own ‘social category’ at the time,” he suggested. After he watched the third series finale Power (“an excellent episode in its own right”, he judged), he was dismayed to discover there would be no fourth series of Survivors. “I even sent in a script”, he revealed.
It was the arrival of Survivors on satellite TV in the UK in the 1990s that rekindled Steve’s interest in the show, even though he only had terrestrial TV at home at the time Survivors began screening. I remember him telling the tale of hiding the remote control for the Sky TV in his local pub so he could watch Survivors‘ first appearance on UK Gold. This was much to the annoyance of the regulars wanting to watch the Grand Prix at the time.
Steve was right there at the start. He attended the Dreamwatch convention in 1994, which was really the kick-off point for the era of Survivors fandom that continues to this day. Steve wrote a report on the convention in the very first issue of Over The Hills. Through that fanzine he got to know Bob Meade and Mark Wheatley. Together with Mark he organised the very first organised Survivors fan event, which took place in Herefordshire on 7 September 1996. This ground-breaking location trip included a lengthy tour of the the grounds and castle interior of Hampton Court, a venue that it was all-but impossible to get access to at the time.
Steve was a regular on virtually every Survivors location trip, or ‘Reunion’ as they were called, over the following two decades. Steve and Lynne Sweetman pioneered the Survivors Hampton Picnic, an event that continues to this day.
Steve loved an on-location ‘re-enactment’ of a scene from the series, often joining in the action (and supplying the dialogue) or directing from the sidelines. He was game for anything, and joined in laughing, joking or just strolling through life. If a ‘Reunion’ took fans anywhere near water (be it a river, a ford, a stream or a weir), you could guarantee that Steve would want to paddle, wade or swim in it, whatever the time of year and regardless of the weather.
The world was a better, calmer place when you were with him. Many a happy hour was spent in his company at the evening get-togethers that were always an integral part of fan location trips.
Steve was a talented singer and guitarist, performing at open mike events locally and at several fan gatherings. He took great pride in recording his own version of the song Reaping and Sowing (available on YouTube), in tribute to the original version written by Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston) which featured in the first series Survivors episode Corn Dolly.
Through his activities in Survivors fandom Steve met Lynne Sweetman and became involved in the publication Bridgehead, which evolved into the Survivors Newsletter which ran for 72 issues in total. Although Steve only became credited as Editor from issue 16, there is no doubt he had an active hand in previous issues. Steve continued to work on compiling the Newsletter throughout its run as a print publication and was without doubt its chief contributor. When the Newsletter came to an end in physical format, Steve helped to set up a Facebook presence. When Lynne died in January 2018, Steve amended the name of the Survivors Newsletter Facebook page in her honour, and continued to run and post material to the site.
Steve and Lynne had a deep and strong friendship over many years. For those who read the famous “small print” section of the Newsletter, they would see Steve referred to as her “friend in the North” in every issue.
Steve enjoyed writing and made probably the biggest contribution of anyone to the genre of Survivors “fan fiction”. He wrote stories for both Over The Hills and the Newsletter. In 1995 he self-published three standalone Survivors tales: The Darkest Hour, Land of the Free and The Hills of Home. This was followed up in 1996 by two contributions to an anthology produced with Mark Wheatley: The Long Run and Contact. Steve’s last published work of Survivors fiction appeared in issue 71 of the Newsletter, and followed on from the events in the finale of the BBC’s 2008-2010 remake.
Steve took life with ease. He always walked forward hand open stretched and greeted you with a great smile and a warm handshake.
Those that knew him will raise a glass in his honour. But perhaps, better still, they will remember him every time they have a paddle in the waters of Survivors.
Top Bloke, Survivors Legend. You are really missed mate.
Adrian Hulme, 20 June 2021
Steve passed away in hospital on Sunday 13 June 2021