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)