Myra Frances (Anne Tranter, Survivors S1) dies aged 78

Myra Frances - Anne Tranter - Genesis - Survivors

MYRA FRANCES, WHO played the role of Anne Tranter in two episodes of series one of Survivors, has died of cancer just weeks after her seventy-eighth birthday.

Frances’ death, at 01:30 on Tuesday 30 March 2021, was announced on social media today by her husband of 45 years the actor Peter Egan. The couple had married on 13 February 1977, and had a daughter, Rebecca Egan – who has also pursued a career as an actor.

The news of Frances’ passing was quickly picked up by news agencies, including the Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Sun, OK, The Independent and Metro.

The character of ‘spoilt rich girl’ Tranter first appeared in Survivors‘ second episode “Genesis”, when she flags down Greg’s car on the main road next to a quarry. Wrapped in a fur coat, and with an immaculate appearance, her character makes an immediate impression. She insists that Greg help her, by freeing her partner Vic Thatcher who’s become trapped under an overturned tractor.

Tranter, who had enjoyed a life of privilege and indulgence before The Death, soon has Greg lined up to replace the now seriously injured Vic. When Greg insists on leaving, she abandons the patient to his fate telling the returning Greg, now in the company of Jenny Richards, that the injured Vic was already dead.

Myra Frances - Anne Tranter - and Ian McCulloch - Greg Preston - in Genesis - Survivors

Tranter later refuses to join Greg and Jenny as they head off into the night to trace the source of the signal from Abby’s fire. Her disappearance is referred to in the next episode “Gone Away”, when Greg confirms to Abby that she was no longer in the barn the trio were overnighting in when Greg made good on his pledge to return to collect her.

Frances’ formidable character returns in the eleventh episode “Revenge”, when Tranter arrives at the Grange settlement in the company of the good-natured tanker driver Donny. With Vic rescued from his isolation at the quarry and now living as part of Abby’s community, the scene is set for a confrontation between Vic and Anne – with him determined that she must account for her wickedness and cruelty in leaving him “to die in his own filth”.

When the two are finally reconciled by their recognition of the value of life itself, she heads off alone towards an unknown future – but with a reaffirmed sense of self.

Myra Frances - Anne Tranter - Revenge - Survivors - 01
Myra Frances - Anne Tranter - Revenge - Survivors - 02

Prior to her retirement, Frances had enjoyed a successful and varied screen career.

As well as her appearance in Survivors, she also memorably guest-starred in the 1979 Doctor Who story ‘The Creature from the Pit’ in the role of Lady Adrasta.

Frances also played the role of Stella Clisby, in series four of Hadleigh, and appeared in a number of episodes of the lunchtime legal series Crown Court.

In addition, she appeared in episodes of The Sweeney, Z-Cars, Angels, Within These Walls, The Newcomers and The Organisation – the show on which she met her future husband.

The day before her death, MyLondon coincidentally ran a short feature recalling the controversy that surrounded Frances’ appearance alongside Alison Steadman in the BBC drama Girl, where their characters shared what was claimed to be the first lesbian kiss on British television.

On the big screen she took roles in films including Don’t Just Lie There, Say Something!, Very Like a Whale and Remembrance.

In retirement, and alongside her husband, Myra Frances devoted considerable time and effort supporting animal charities and campaigning for better treatment of animals.

Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation – Big Finish podcast preview

THE 28 MARCH 2021 Big Finish podcast, presented by Nicholas Briggs and Benji Clifford, includes a preview from the upcoming audio release Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation.

The Centurion Seymour edition of the podcast is available to stream or download from the Big Finish web site, and through all usual podcast plaforms and services.

The preview includes a discussion of the personal and professional challenges that Seymour experienced working on the Steptoe and Son movie and securing the role of Abby Grant on Survivors. She also reflects on the sexist culture that afflicted the entertainment industry during the 1970s, and the impact that this had on women working in film and TV.

After the preview, the hosts discuss how much they have enjoyed working with Carolyn on Big Finish productions since she began to lend her audio talents to the company’s output. Briggs and Clifford also reflect on how positive their personal interactions in the studio always are with this most singular of actors.

Known best to Big Finish listeners as Abby Grant in Survivors, Carolyn Seymour is an actress who is equally at home in a Hollywood blockbuster, a British cult comedy or drama series. She played Jenny in Take Three Girls, Zita in the Steptoe & Son movie, and starred on the silver screen alongside Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney and Michael Keaton in a career that has lasted five decades.

Now she opens up in an exclusive two-hour interview with writer, actor and comedian Toby Hadoke, talking with openness and honesty about her astonishing career and life outside of the spotlight.

Please note release contains discussion of alcoholism and attempted suicide and therefore is not suitable for younger listeners.

Big Finish have also released the first trailer from the release, which can also be listened to on, and downloaded from, the Big Finish site.

Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation will be released next month, and is available for pre-order from Big Finish.

Further information about the release was first released in a Big Finish press release back in February.

Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation – cover and trailer released

Carolyn Seymour: Survivor cover design

BIG FINISH HAVE released the cover image for next month’s digital audio release Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation, and the first teaser trailer.

Big Finish’s ‘In Conversation’ series provides an opportunity for an in-depth one-on-one question-and-answer session with actors famous for their genre work on screen and an audio.

This latest release features Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant, Survivors – on screen and on audio) in conversation with Toby Hadoke.

The list for Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation on the Big Finish site explains:

Known best to Big Finish listeners as Abby Grant in Survivors, Carolyn Seymour is an actress who is equally at home in a Hollywood blockbuster, a British cult comedy or drama series. She played Jenny in Take Three Girls, Zita in the Steptoe & Son movie, and starred on the silver screen alongside Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney and Michael Keaton in a career that has lasted five decades.

Now she opens up in an exclusive two-hour interview with writer, actor and comedian Toby Hadoke, talking with openness and honesty about her astonishing career and life outside of the spotlight.

Please note release contains discussion of alcoholism and attempted suicide and therefore is not suitable for younger listeners.

Big Finish have also released the first trailer from the release, which can also be listened to on, and downloaded from, the Big Finish site.

Carolyn Seymour: In Conversation will be released next month, and is available for pre-order from Big Finish.

Further information about the release was first released in a Big Finish press release back in February.

In conversation – Carolyn Seymour: Survivor

Carolyn Seymour

BIG FINISH HAVE today announced the release of a two-hour ‘in conversation’ session with Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant).

For this digital-download-only release, Carolyn was interviewed by writer, actor and comedian Toby Hadoke in January 2021.

Carolyn Seymour: Survivor is available for pre-order from the Big Finish site, and will be released in April 2021.

Known best to Big Finish listeners as Abby Grant in Survivors, Carolyn Seymour is an actress who is equally at home in a Hollywood blockbuster, a British cult comedy or drama series. She played Jenny in Take Three Girls, Zita in the Steptoe & Son movie, and starred on the silver screen alongside Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney and Michael Keaton in a career that has lasted five decades.

Now she opens up in an exclusive two-hour interview with writer, actor and comedian Toby Hadoke, talking with openness and honesty about her astonishing career and life outside of the spotlight.

In the Big Finish press release, Tony Hadoke says –

I knew Carolyn would be interesting but was thrilled by her openness, her refreshing honesty and the way she was happy to field any question I wanted to throw at her. She’s definitely a survivor. This may be a one woman show – and what a woman – but there are a host of supporting players and she brings them all to life; from HG Wells (well, bits of him) to Terence Dudley via Michael Bryant and Peter O’Toole. The time we spent chatting just flew by.

Big Finish - In Conversation logo

Photo of Carolyn Seymour (c) Tony Whitmore

Survivors feature in November SFX

The opening two page Survivors spread from the November 2020 edition of SFX magazine

A FOUR-PAGE FEATURE on Survivors, that includes comments from Carolyn Seymour, Lucy Fleming and Ian McCulloch, appears in the November issue of SFX magazine.

Written by Steve O’Brien, who’s recently published articles on the 2008-10 Survivors remake in The Guardian and SFX, the piece attempts to summarise the history of the original series forty-five years on from its original transmission.

Those with a reasonable knowledge of Survivors won’t learn much that’s new from the feature, which includes several familiar anecdotes and quotations. There is a tiny bit more on Seymour’s departure from the show, on Terry Nation’s relationship with Terry Dudley, and on McCulloch’s abortive remake attempt, but no major new insights.

O’Brien does introduce what might be a new example of the third journalistic faux pas listed in the How to Annoy a Survivors Fan spotter’s guide (‘Make lazy, repetitive and ill-informed comparisons between Survivors and other shows’) . He describes the Whitecross era as pulling the series ‘more in the direction of Countryfile than Mad Max.’

In a short interview with David Richardson, the producer of the Big Finish Survivors audio range confirms that there are currently no plans for further instalments. With Big Finish’s run of full-cast Survivors audios coming to an end with the ninth series, there were some hopes that the show might continue on audio in the form of single-voice audio books – a transition that some other properties in the Big Finish range have made. That possibility now appears to be ruled out.

Carolyn Seymour joins online Star Trek Q&A session

Carolyn Seymour join online Star Trek Q&A session, 15 July 2020

CAROLYN SEYMOUR (ABBY Grant) will join a three-person panel for an online Star Trek question-and-answer session on 15 July.

Hosted by Wizard World Virtual Experiences, Seymour will appear alongside fellow Star Trek cast members Anthony Montgomery and Alan Van Sprang for an hour-long web session, starting at 21:00 UK time.

The session will be free to view online, although a range of associated merchandise is available to pre-purchase: including signed (and, if desired, dedicated) photos, video chats (scheduled for 18 July) and pre-recorded video messages.

The free Q&A session will be available to view in real-time through the Wizard World Virtual Twitch channel, and the company’s presence on Facebook and YouTube.

UPDATE: 16 July: Wizard World Virtual Experiences have now uploaded a recording of the live session to YouTube:

Wizard World Virtual Experiences - Star Trek Panel - 15 July 2020 - Carolyn Seymour

New study of performance and production in Survivors

A NEW BOOK which examines the way in which actors perform in television drama, and the way in which their performance is captured by the camera, uses Survivors as one of its illuminating case studies.

In The Changing Spaces of Television Acting: From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama, author and researcher Richard Hewett scrutines the craft of actors and performers working on The Quatermass Experiment, Doctor Who and Survivors.

He looks at the interplay between custom and practice, acting theory, evolving technology and other factors in shaping how performance for television is realised. Hewett pays particular attention to the distinction between studio and ‘on location’ production, exploring the influence that ‘place’ exerts on the way that a story is translated from page to screen.

Hewett’s book builds on the research that he undertook for the doctoral thesis, and an academic journal article that he published as one of the outputs of his research findings. Yet it’s clear that the aim of the book is to reach a non-academic as well as an academic audience.

For those interested in the history of British television production, there’s a great deal in Hewett’s book to capture the attention.

Enthusiasts with a particular interest in Survivors will be able to enjoy some fascinating and original reflections on the making of the show, informed by new interviews with cast members (including Lucy Fleming and Denis Lill and Roger Lloyd-Pack), and illustrated with numerous screencaptures from different episodes of the show.

In a Q&A with publishers Manchester University Press, Hewett explains that he enjoyed “every aspect of writing the book, from re-viewing the case studies to poring over archive documents.” He suggests that conducting interviews was the most satisfying part. “It was fascinating to have my theories challenged by the practitioners who originally worked on my case studies,” he says – people who were on set at the time and who were able to offer “their own unique perspectives.”

This book provides a historical overview and then-and-now comparison of performing for British television drama. By examining changing acting styles from distinct eras of television production – studio realism and location realism – it makes a unique contribution to both television and performance studies, unpacking the various determinants that have combined to influence how performers work in the medium. The book compares the original versions of The Quatermass Experiment (BBC, 1953), Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89) and Survivors (BBC, 1975-77) with their respective modern-day re-makes, unpacking the effects of the shift from multi-camera studio to single-camera location production. Textual analysis is combined with extensive archival research into production process and reception, alongside interviews with numerous actors and production personnel from more than sixty years of television production.

Richard Hewett. 2020. The Changing Spaces of Television Acting: From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama. Manchester: Manchester University Press, ISBN 9781526148636.

Lucy Fleming reads ‘Posting’ letter on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

An behind-the-scenes in-studio image from the Today programme on BBC Radio 4

LUCY FLEMING READ an extract from a letter that her mother Celia Johnson sent to her father Peter Fleming just after VE Day on BBC Radio 4’s flagship news progamme Today this morning (4 May 2020).

The Today show is featuring a number of different readings this week, as part of the wider BBC shedule of event to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

Fleming appears towards the end of the programme (at around the 2hrs 50m mark). Listeners in the UK can stream or download the programme from the BBC Sounds service. Today’s edition will be available to access until 3 June 2020.

Fleming and her husband Simon Williams have been touring the spoken-word production of Posting Letters to the Moon, which is based on the wartime correspondence between her mother and father.

An additional run of planned performances of Posting Letters to the Moon has had to be postponed as a result of the current Covid-19 closedown, but it is hoped that dates later in the year will go ahead as scheduled.

Carolyn Seymour joins New Counter-Measures audios

Carolyn Seymour and the New Counter Measures team at the Big Finish studios
Carolyn Seymour and the New Counter Measures team at the Big Finish studios

CAROLYN SEYMOUR RETURNS to the world of Big Finish audios, in two adventures from The New Counter-Measures series that have just been released.

These two instalments were recorded back in June 2019, several months after the completion of Seymour’s work on the ninth and final series of Survivors audio box sets.

Seymour reprises the role of Lady Suzanne Clare, the Counter-Measures team’s recurring nemesis. Clare is a scheming and ruthless arms-dealer and trader in alien technology, who’s possessed of both cunning and charm.

Clare’s schemes lead her to become entangled with both the Movellans and the Daleks, and to become a (somewhat untrustworthy) associate of the Counter-Measures group.

Seymour’s character appears in both of the new stories, which bring to an end the current run of The New Counter-Measures audio adventures. The cast also includes Simon Williams, husband of Lucy Fleming, who plays the role of Group Captain Gilmore.

My reviews of The New Counter-Measures: The Movellan Manoeuvre and The New Counter-Measures: The Dalek Gambit have been published on Cultbox today.

Carolyn Seymour, The New Counter Measures Team, Nicholas Briggs and Cyril Nri
Carolyn Seymour, The New Counter Measures Team, Nicholas Briggs and Cyril Nri
The New Counter-Measures: The Dalek Gambit cover

Roger Marshall, scriptwriter of Survivors episode “Parasites”, has died

Roger Marshall

ROGER MARSHALL, THE well-respected genre TV scriptwriter, who penned the series two Survivors episode “Parasites” has died at the age of 86.

Born in Leicester in 1934, Marshall began a career in television after graduating from Cambridge University. He quickly found his niche as a prolific scriptwriter, and would go on to write scripts for The Avengers, The Sweeney, The Professionals, Lovejoy, London’s Burning and many other TV series from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Marshall co-created the 1974 series Zodiac (which starred Anton Rogers); and the 1984 show Mitch (in which John Thaw took the lead). He also created the 1984-85 canal-barge-set crime drama The Travelling Man. However, his most widely-respected creator credit comes from his work on the down-at-heel private eye drama Public Eye (1965-75), which he co-created with Anthony Marriott, in which Alfred Burke starred.

Marshall also wrote the film scripts for the Amicus productions What Became of Jack & Jill (1972) and And Now The Screaming Starts (1973).

Survivors producer Terry Dudley recruited Marshall to write a single script for the second series. The result was the highly-regarded “Parasites”, a tale of crime, deception and murder, which sees the Whitecross community threatened by an escaped prisoner and his partner-in-crime a former prison warder. The episode is also distinguished by an all-too-brief guest starring appearance from Patrick Troughton (the second actor to play the part of The Doctor in Doctor Who).

Although his script for “Parasites” was one of the highlights of the second series, and translated to the screen extremely effectively, Marshall did not particularly enjoy the experience of working on Survivors. “It was a messy production,” he told Action TV magazine when he recalled his efforts in 2005, “but memorable for me in that I got to write about barges for the first time.”

As part of his research for “Parasites”, Marshall spent time learning the mechanics of canal travel at the Stoke Bruerne Barge Museum near Towcester. It was knowledge that he later put to good use in framing the premise of The Travelling Man.

Marshall was not invited to contribute any scripts to the third and final series of Survivors, but does not appear to have expressed interest in doing so.

Marshall, who had been suffering with Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia for some time, died on 1 April 2020.