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.
CAROLYN SEYMOUR WILL be a guest at both days of the upcoming Nottingham EM-Con 2021 convention, being held at the city’s Motorpoint Arena on 1-2 May 2021.
Seymour will be offering both autographs and ‘photoshoot’ opportunities for visiting fans, both of which can be booked in advance.
We’re happy to welcome Carolyn Seymour to our guest line up for EM-Con Nottingham. Carolyn has many credits to her name, most notably are the ones in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Voyager. Others include roles in Quantum Leap, Space 1999 and many others. Gamers will know that more recently Carolyn voiced the roles of Queen Myrrah in Gears of War, and Dr Chakwas in Mass Effect.
While none of the convention’s promotional material mentions Seymour’s involvement with Survivors, the event is a great opportunity for fans of the series to meet up with Carolyn face-to-face.
Almost thirty convention guests have been confirmed by the EM-Con team so far, including Blake Harrison (Inbetweeners), Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones), Norman Lovett (Red Dwarf) and John Ross Bowie (Big Bang Theory). Other names will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets for the show, which are available in ‘General Admission’ format along with four ‘added feature’ bands (Bronze to Platinum), can now be purchased online from the EM-Con site.
DENIS LILL IS out and about “treading the boards” once more in a national touring production of The Lady Vanishes, a new adaptation of the classic 1938 Alfred Hitchcock big-screen thriller. Very appropriately, this latest live version has been brought to the stage by the Classic Thriller Theatre Company.
Lill plays the role of Charters, one of a pair of cricket enthusiasts sharing the ill-fated train journey through the country of Bandrika. The play has been commissioned by the Bill Kenwright company, responsible for numerous touring theatre shows within the UK. Lill has been a cast member on many previous productions, including a number of the Agatha Christie plays for which the firm is especially well regarded.
The tour began in Swindon in early September, and has moved on to runs in Weston-Super-Mare, Bury St Edmunds, Coventry, Cambridge, Derby and Darlington. The tour continues with runs at Horton, Exeter, Brighton, Yeovil, Torquay and Croydon, and concludes in Eastbourne in early December.
A review in the Teesdale Mercuryby Arts Critic Andrew Mercury offers a very positive assessment:
Cricket loving Charters, Denis Lill, and Caldicott, Ben Nealon […] bring a touch of comedy to the proceedings and show we perhaps have not changed that much as the Englishman abroad.
The set (Morgan Large) effortlessly transforms from the station to the interior of the train and back again. The atmosphere is enhanced with subtle lighting (Charlie Morgan Jones) and sound (Dan Samson). Direction by Roy Marsden is slick throughout.
The intrigue and suspense of The Lady Vanishes will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow the twists and turns trying to spot the red herrings.
This new production is directed by Bill Kenwright regular Roy Marsden (who appeared as a cast member in the third series of Survivors back in 1977 as The Captain in “Long Live the King”).
For full information on dates and locations, and to buy tickets online, visit the The Lady Vanishes site.
THE NETWORK ON AIR site has published a well-crafted appreciation of the screen career of Sydney Tafler, an actor who memorably appeared as Manny, the morally-dubious settlement leader, in the well-regarded two-part series two Survivors story Lights of London.
In the modern world of drama production, it is commonplace for actors to move back and forward between cinema and TV work in a ‘blended’ screen career. But in the 1970s, fewer British actors regularly traversed the demarcation separating a film from a television identity. Some actors known mainly for television (including the series’ leads of Survivors) made irregular film appearances, but far fewer flitted seamlessly between the two screen worlds.
For an actor with big-screen credentials like Tafler’s to be contracted for a guest role in a BBC serial like Survivors was not something that all of his contemporaries would have thanked their agents for arranging.
Tafler however had bridged the large-and-small screen divide from the earliest days of his career, which began with stage appearances in the 1930s after he graduated from RADA. As he established himself over the following years, he would mix appearances in TV shows such as Dixon of Dock Green,Hadleigh and The Gentle Killers with roles in movies such as The Counterfeit Plan, The Bulldog Breed and Sink the Bismarck! amongst numerous others.
He was a prolific performer, although he was usually rewarded with relatively minor or supporting roles. Film historian Andrew Roberts revisits Tafler’s winning performances in classic films such as The Lavender Hill Mob, It Always Rains on Sunday,Too Many Crooks and Mystery Junction, celebrating his talents as the consumate character actor.
Roberts notes how Tafler frequently outshone the quality of the screenplays he was given and how he was able to “save films that could be fairly described as ‘Worst of British’.” Regardless of the source material, Tafler could be relied upon to delivered performances that were committed, believable and layered.
Tafler’s portrayal of the chancer Manny in Lights of London reveals just that sort of approach to a role, which sees him becoming a commanding on-screen presence, and a credible and unnerving villain, without overshadowing the series’ regulars with whom he shares the story.
Inhabiting the role of Manny was not a particular stretch for Tafler. The character of the “Cockney spiv who comes to a bad end” was one that he had played, in different variants, several times in his career – although the stakes in Lights of London (which the characters believe could be the fate of the human race itself) are significantly higher than in most of Tafler’s earlier crime capers, comedies and thrillers.
In fact, when Lights of London I director Terence Williams first read Jack Ronder’s script for the episode and considered who he might recruit to play the pivotal character of Manny, he might well have thought – “We need someone like Sydney Tafler for this role.”
His appearance in Survivors in 1976 turned out to be one of the last of Tafler’s long and creditable career. The following year, he returned to the big screen to play the role of the captain of supertanker The Liparus in the James Bond caper The Spy Who Loved Me. Tafler died on 8 November 1979.
LUCY FLEMING AND Simon Williams completed the New York run of their spoken-word production Posting Letter to the Moon earlier this week.
The three week run at 59E59 Theatres was the first overseas tour for the show which offers “a romantic, funny, and touching portrait of life during the early 1940s featuring readings of wartime letters between Oscar- nominated actress [and Lucy Fleming’s mother] Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming).”
Speaking to Hollywood Soapbox, during the run, Fleming suggests that the letters shared by her parents reveals:
the depth of their love and the bravery they showed each other from thousands of miles apart, the jokes they sent each other to keep their spirits up, their optimism throughout the five years of World War II when nobody knew who was going to survive, the way they dealt with the deprivations of rationing of food, petrol and clothes.
A copy of the full-colour programme from the US run is available for download below.
IN 1975, THE year that the first series of Survivors was shown on the BBC, Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant) appeared alongside Alastair Simm and Jeremy Brett in the powerful one-hour drama The Prodigal Daughter.
Produced by Anglia Television and screened on the ITV network, The Prodigal Daughter sees Seymour take on the role of a troubled young woman named Christine Smith who becomes a housekeeper for some very traditional priests living in a presbytery. Christine’s presence turns out to be the catalyst for somes unexpected disruption for Father Perfect (Sim) and someeven more challenging self-doubt by Father Michael Daley (Brett) in relation to his faith that had shaped his life.
The Prodigal Daughter is an engrossing 50-minute character study, framed and shot in the classic 1970s’ studio-set style, lit up by a universally strong performances by a superb cast. Director Alastair Reid and producer John Jacobs both do fantastic work with a thoughtful and confident script by David Turner.
As the fragile but assertive Christine, Seymour is predictably brilliant. While the character is written as someone younger than Abby Grant, Seymour is equally as convincing as the unstable and anxious Christine as she is as the determined and resolute Abby. The backgrounds and life opportunities of the two characters (at least up until the point of The Death) could hardly be in starker contrast, but Seymour makes them both believable, rounded human beings.
The Prodigal Daughter has not yet secured an independent sell-through release, but it is included in the Network Special Edition DVD release of the wartime espionage drama Cottage to Let (starring Alastair Sim).
LUCY FLEMING AND Simon Williams will travel to New York in May to perform a three-week run of their acclaimed narrated two-hander Posting Letters to the Moon.
The ninety-minute show offers a “romantic, funny, and touching portrait of life during the early 1940s featuring readings of wartime letters between Oscar- nominated actress Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming).”
Posting Letters to the Moon will feature of part of the “Brits Off Broadway 2019” season which aims to introduce New York theatre audiences. to innovative new productions from the world of British theatre.
The New York run of the show opens at the 59E59 Theatres venue on Tuesday 14 May 2019 and continues daily (excluding Mondays) until Sunday 2 June 2019 (with matinee and evening shows on Saturdays). Tickets can be purchased online from the 59E59 Theatres site.
Compiled by Lucy Fleming With Lucy Fleming and Simon Williams
Posting Letters To The Moon is a romantic, funny, and touching portrait of life during the early 1940s featuring readings of wartime letters between Oscar- nominated actress Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming).
Their daughter, Lucy Fleming, alongside her own husband, Simon Williams, reads these touching and amusing letters that tell of Celia’s experiences during the war: coping with a large isolated house full of evacuated children, learning to drive a tractor, dealing with rationing, holidays in Cornwall where she took to surfing, and all the while accepting offers, when she could get away, to act — for David Lean, Noël Coward, wartime propaganda films, and ultimately starring in the classic film Brief Encounter.
59E59 Theatres 59 East 59th Street New York, NY 10022 USA
Prior to, and following, their appearance at the festival in New York, Fleming and Williams continue performances of the show in the UK with dates at:
Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis DT7 3QB (26 April 2019) [tickets]
Churchill War Rooms, London SW1A 2AQ (8 May 2019) [invitation only]
Regal Theatre, Tenbury Wells WR15 8AE (20 June 2019) [venue]
Farnham Maltings, Farnham GU9 7QR (9 July 2019) [venue]
CAROLYN SEYMOUR FEATURES IN the cast of Big Finish’s newly released eighth series of Fourth Doctor Adventures starring Tom Baker.
Although Seymour’s work on the series of current Survivors audios comes to an end with the release of the ninth box set of stories in June 2019, she is continuing to take on new one-off and recurring roles in other audio dramas in the Big Finish universe.
In the Fourth Doctor audio “The Syndicate Master Plan”, available to buy now from the Big Finish site, Seymour voices two characters: The Commodore and Mrs Kidd. Amongst others joining Tom Baker in the ensemble cast are Jane Slavin, John Leeson, John Shrapnel and Jon Culshaw.
DENIS LILL HAS joined the cast of a touring theatrical production of the celebrated legal courtroom drama The Verdict.
Brought to the stage by The Middle Ground Theatre Company, this new production of the stage play, adapted from Barry Reed’s acclaimed novel by Margaret May Hobbs, is appearing at theatres across the UK and Ireland between now and the end of May.
Lill takes on the role of Moe Katz, a character he describes as a “rather tired and rather clapped out Jewish lawyer in Boston.” Katz has been the mentor to younger lawyer Frank Galvin since he left the US Marines. Katz has taken Galvin “under his wing, coached him and mentored him throughout the course of his career,” Lill explains.
Galvin (Ian Kelsey) himself is a troubled figure, battling with alcohol dependency and professional failings. But when Galvin picks up a hospital malpractice case it energises him to seek justice for a young mother, challenge the medical and legal establishments, and perhaps find redemption for himself in the process.
The Cotswold Life‘s review of the show’s run at the Everyman Theatre iin Cheltenham earlier this month, suggests that Lill “brought an utterly heart-warming humanity to the whole production.”
The Verdict by Barry Reed
Directed and designed by Michael Lunney. Adapted by Margaret May Hobbs.
STARRING IAN KELSEY, DENIS LILL, PAUL OPACIC, CHRISTOPHER ETTRIDGE, RICHARD WALSH and KAREN DRURY.
The Powerful Bestselling Courtroom Thriller that inspired a multi Academy Award-Nominated film.
Frank Galvin is a washed up veteran lawyer and an alcoholic. He is presented with one last chance to redeem himself when he is given an open-and-shut medical malpractice case that no one thinks he can win. Up against the unforgiving medical establishment, he courageously refuses an out of court settlement, believing it is negligence that has condemned a young mother. Smelling a cover up, he instead takes the case and the entire legal system to court.
You will recall the five times OSCAR nominated Sidney Lumet film with Paul Newman, James Mason and Charlotte Rampling.
Ian Kelsey is known by millions for his regular roles in Blue Murder, Emmerdale, Casualty, Down To Earth, Where The Heart Is, Doctors and Coronation Street. Denis Lill is best known for playing Alan Parry (father of Casandra) in Only Fools and Horses, as well as regular roles in The Royal, Rumpole Of The Bailey, The Regiment, Survivors and many more. They are joined by Paul Opacic (Bad Girls/Emmerdale/Hollyoaks), Christopher Ettridge (Goodnight Sweetheart), Richard Walsh(London’s Burning), Karen Drury (Brookside), Josephine Rogers, Michael Lunney, Okon Jones, Anne Kavanagh, Holly Jackson Walters, James Morley, Jog Maher, Alexandra Fisher and Greg Fitch.
Describe the character that you are playing in the Verdict?
He’s a 75-year-old, rather tired and rather clapped out Jewish lawyer in Boston and he’s the man who plucked our main character of the play, Frank Galvin, off the boat, straight from the war in his U.S Royal Marines uniform. Taken him under his wing, coached him and mentored him throughout the course of his career.
As an actor what is the biggest challenge when you are discovering a new character?
The biggest challenge, apart from learning the words and getting them all in the right order, is about getting under the skin of that character and finding out what makes him tick and what makes him sound right as well. For me it’s very important for a character, particularly an American character to actually sound right, he has to be believable, the last thing you want is an audience saying he doesn’t sound quite right, sometimes an English actor doing an American accent doesn’t quite sound right, but in our case we are very lucky, we have a great cast and everybody seems to be able to do exactly what they are asked to do.
Is it difficult for you to do an American accent?
No, it’s never been a problem for me. I was born and brought up in New Zealand and during the war, when I was a baby we used to have American soldiers billeted in our house from the Pacific Theatre and I think possibly subconsciously when I was one or two I got used to the sounds of these American voices, plus the fact that I was brought up on American movies and I love Westerns.
Do you share any of the same personality traits as Moe Katz?
Not a single one I don’t think, Moe Katz drinks Earl Grey Tea, which is something that I do from time to time not a lot else in common though which is actually good as it means I can reinvent myself as the character, right from scratch and it works, which is a nice part of being an actor. You have to have that chameleon charisma about yourself, so you can adapt, adopt and steal outrageously from people.
What do you like about the play The Verdict?
That’s easy, the quality of the writing is without parallel and having waded my way in the past through tours and plays which have been either been badly adapted or badly written, it’s such a relief to come across literary quality like this because it does a lot of the work for you. Also I’m a great stickler for discipline, writers don’t use a word just because it’s a word they use it for a specific reason, and I’ve met some actors who just regard the script as a rough guide as to what they are going to be saying but I stick to it as I have a great respect for writers. I try to be as accurate as I can as far as their script is concerned and this script is no exception, in fact this script is probably an essential as the quality of the writing is just so wonderful.
You are a very familiar face from T.V roles in Only Fools and Horses, The Royal, Rumpole of the Bailey etc – is TV or Theatre your true love?
I have a love hate relationship with the theatre, it’s a very inconvenient work place as far as one is working very unsociable hours, particularity if one is working in the West End, at the end of the show one is spat out and you have to get your head down, head for the nearest tube station and go home. But by the same token the creative process is very, very exciting unlike television or film where you are literally thrown in and you’re cast mainly by the way you look. Television I enjoy, I like the hours, film is even better as you are out there in a field somewhere, your sword in one hand, hacking away at people and galloping around, that’s great fun, it’s brilliant fun! There are lots of pros and cons in every medium, but as far as my favourite? Films pay the best but theatre is more satisfying!
MORE DETAILS OF the cast and storylines of the forthcoming eighth series of Survivors audio adventures have been released by Big Finish.
This next series of four adventures focuses on Abby Grant (Carolyn Seymour) and Jenny Richards (Lucy Fleming). As well as the returning characters of of Ruth (Helen Goldwyn) and Craig (George Watkins) and a guest spot by Wendy Craig, Big Finish have confirmed that Abby and her son Peter (Joel James Davison) will be reunited in this series – although there is no guarantee that their reunion will be a joyous one.
Returning scriptwriters Christopher Hatherall and Roland Moore are joined by first-time Survivors audio writers Jane Slavin (who also features in the cast) and Lisa McMullin.
Series eight of Surivors audios will be released in November 2018.
Survivors 8 – Cast and Story Details
More details have been released on the next volume of Survivors (Series Eight) due for release this November. Society is being rebuilt and reunions will take place, but people have changed since the ‘Death’…
Prepare to return to the powerful and sinister world of Survivors, in Series Eight of one of Big Finish’s most critically acclaimed releases.
8.1 BANDIT TRAIN
Society is slowly rebuilding. Abby and Jenny are transporting supplies between settlements. Craig is learning how to run the steam engines on lines cleared by Greg Preston.
But there are still those who just want to take. And their train is about to come under attack…
Once, Robert Malcolm had a complicated life. His wife in an institution, his girlfriend running a struggling business, he was out of the army and without a place in the world.
When the Death came, it meant many things to many people. For Robert, it meant freedom.
8.3 THE LOST BOYS
Peter Grant is alive. He is with Robert Malcolm’s army of boy soldiers, learning to survive. Building a better future.
But medic Ruth has her suspicions when she visits the camp. And Craig is about to find out what it takes to become a recruit.
8.4 VILLAGE OF DUST
Abby, still desperate for the reunion she’s been seeking for years, now knows that Peter is part of an army.
Meanwhile, Jenny realises that someone is drawing plans against her budding Federation. A war is coming, and mother and son are on different sides.
Survivors Series Eight sees actors Carolyn Seymour and Lucy Fleming reprising their TV roles as Abby Grant and Jenny Richards. Helen Goldwyn also returns as Ruth and George Watkins returns as Craig – both characters previously appeared in Survivors Series Six. Plus actress Wendy Craig, who listeners will recognise from TV shows Nanny, Butterflies, …And Mother Makes Three and …And Mother Makes Five, guest stars, and Joel James Davison (the son of Fifth DoctorPeter Davison) joins the ongoing series as Peter Grant, Abby’s long-lost son in a major twist. They’ll finally be reunited, but will Peter be happy to see his mother again?
Other cast members, Hywel Morgan plays Robert Malcolm, Gyuri Sarossy plays Derek Gibb, Richard Popple plays Kilby, Homer Todiwala plays Scotty, SusieEmmett plays Twig, Jane Slavin (as well as writing an episode) plays Julia and Mrs Brock, Vikash Bhai plays Jesus, Isla Carter plays Cayla Kenny, Eddie Eyre plays Seth Pilkington, Katherine Rose Morley plays Sonia Meadows and Susan Hingley plays Jiao Li.