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 remake retrospective in SFX magazine

Survivors remake retrospective feature in SFX August 2020, No 329

THE AUGUST 2020 edition of SFX magazine features a six-page retrospective feature on Adrian Hodges’ 2008-10 remake of Survivors.

The article includes recollections and reminiscences from Hodges, Paterson Joseph (Greg Preston), Julie Graham (Abby Grant) and Robyn Addison (Sarah Boyer).

It’s clear from the feature that Hodges’ disappointment at the abrupt cancellation of the show at the close of the second series is still keenly felt. Although he suggests that the Survivors‘ prospects suffered as a result of management changes at the BBC, he concedes that lower-than-hoped-for viewing figures played a key role in the axeing of Survivors. “The show had probably not managed to get the kind of numbers the BBC wanted,” he reflects, “it certainly wasn’t a show that had a massive audience.”

As the showrunner Hodges reveals some of the key components of his plans for the show if a third (and subsequent) series had been commisioned.

He also accepts that closing the second series with a (now never to be resolved) cliffhanger left many loyal viewers dissatisfied. “With the benefit of hindsight, I perhaps should have given it a slightly more rounded ending”, Hodges says.

Written by Steve O’Brien, research for the SFX feature also informed the brief retrospective on the Survivors remake published in The Guardian back in May.

Steve O’Brien. 2020. ‘Survivors unseen’, SFX, No 329, August, pp.60-65.

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

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

Carolyn Seymour to appear at Nottingham’s EM-Con, 1-2 May 2021

https://nottingham.em-con.co.uk/guest/carolyn-seymour/

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.

EM-Con 2021 Nottingham
Motorpoint Arena, Bolero Square, Nottingham NG1 1LA 11
1-2 May 2021.

Note: This event was originally scheduled for 2-3 May 2020, and then rescheduled to 18-19 July 2020, before being rescheduled again to 1-2 May 2021.

Denis Lill on tour in The Lady Vanishes

Poster for the 2019 national theatre tour of The Lady Vanishes, which features Survivors actor Denis Lill in the cast

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 Mercury by 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.

A publicity shot of Denis Lill in the 2019 touring production of The Lady Vanishes
Charters (Denis Lill) and Caldicott (Ben Nealon) in The Lady Vanishes
The cast of the 2019 national touring production of The Lady Vanishes
A production still of the full cast of the new production of The Lady Vanishes (Lill, right)
A publicity shot for the 2019 touring production of The Lady Vanishes, which features Denis Lill in the cast
Iris (Scarlett Archer, left), Ms Froy (Gwen Taylor), Charters (Denis Lill) and Caldicott (Ben Nealon) in a scene from The Lady Vanishes

Posting Letters to the Moon completes New York run

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.

Carolyn Seymour in The Prodigal Daughter (1975)

Carolyn Seymour - The Prodigal Daughter

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 take Posting Letters To The Moon show to New York

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.

Show Info

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]