"It doesn't matter if only four or five of them turn up. As long
as we can make a start. Establish a bridgehead!"
- Charles



At the Walter's farm Edith is chiding her sons, Owen and Steve, for wanting to ride off to look for
Charles. He has been away for ten days and Edith fears he will never return, just like her son
Tom. Edith observes that nobody who has left the farm has returned yet. Agnes is troubled by
her words.


However, Charles is close by, having walked along the railway tracks to Highley station. He stops
for a rest on the station platform.


Agnes and Jenny are discussing Charles. Jenny believes that looking for Tom Walter isn't their
responsibility. Agnes disagrees.


Charles is now close to the Walter's farm. He realises this when he spots the bull that Brod stole
from them, wandering wild.


Whilst Agnes is spinning wool, Jenny exclaims that the farm will never get organised and that
meanwhile Greg must be getting further and further away. Agnes tells her that the wool and
cheese stored at the farm needs to be exchanged in trade before they can leave. She knows
that Owen and Steve don't care about the farm and are missing the life Brod gave them, and
adds that they must stay there until Tom returns. Jenny is sick of hearing about Tom, but Agnes
rebukes her saying that there are more important things than Greg, her people are starving
back in Norway for one thing.


Hubert is concerned about one of the cows, which seems to be in calf. Mavis asks Edith about
the cow. Edith tells her that the calf isn't due for three months and fears that the cow may be
infected with brucellosis. Mavis, Jenny and Agnes go to the cow sheds to discuss the problem
with Hubert.


Charles returns and Agnes runs to greet him. Later that evening, Hubert burns the cow's
aborted calf and isolates the animal. Charles who has already told her he has no news of
Tom, comforts Edith by the pyre as she tells him she needs her son back at the farm.


Charles tells everyone about his adventures and of his news that Greg was investigating
open cast mining. When Jenny says they must follow up this information, Charles tells her
he already has and that Greg had moved on again.


They discuss the situation with the cows. They realise they need to capture the bull in
order to breed the cows. They discuss the possibility of brucellosis being passed on to
humans. Hubert is most at risk.


Charles goes out to se Hubert. He apologises to him for being angry that he killed Brod.
Hubert is grateful for this, but they don't shake hands because of the danger of infection.


Owen and Steve announce that they will go and find a vet called Bill Sheridan, who will
be able to treat the cows. Edith forbids it, believing that they are looking for any excuse
to ride off. Jenny elects to go and find him as the sooner he's brought to the farm, the
sooner they can resume their search for Greg.


Jenny and Charles set off down river to find Bill Sheridan. Meanwhile, Edith decides
to take the risk of sending her sons after the bull.


Charles tells Jenny that despite his recent scrapes he feels exhilarated by the life they
lead. He believes that what with trains and industry starting up again that things are
getting better. Back at the farm Edith accuses Agnes of giving her boys the cold shoulder.
Agnes is angry at her comment and Edith apologises.


Owen and Steve set off to catch the bull. They are seen off by Agnes and Mavis.
They promise that they will return to the farm.


Jenny and Charles have spent a night on the river and Jenny complains that she
doesn't want to do it again. Their conversation is interrupted when Jenny thinks
she hears a car.


By chance Bill Sheridan is on the same stretch of river and rows up to Jenny and
Charles. Once he learns they are looking for him he introduces himself and they
make for his home. Meanwhile, Owen and Steve are having trouble moving the
bull that they have now caught.


At Sheridan's home, Jenny and Charles are introduced to his partner, Alice and daughter.


Bill explains that he met Edith Walter before when she and Tom passed by
looking for grain. He and Alice just grow enough food to live on themselves.
He starts to talk about homeopathic medicine and takes Charles to his
'pharmacy'.


Bill tells Charles how he met Alice and his previous existence as a hospital
orderly, which ultimately led to his possession of all the medicines he shows him.
He explains that he has a distillery outside, but that he needs certain organic
ingredients that he can't find in the area. Charles tells him about the brucellosis
outbreak at the farm. Bill is confident that it can be cured.


Alice tells Jenny that she thinks people in the surrounding area take advantage of
Bill. She cites the recent example that he was called away recently to treat rabies
and it wasn't rabies at all. Charles and Bill rejoin them and Jenny tells them that
the people were hunting Charles.

Alice does not want Bill to go and check out the brucellosis at the Walter's farm. Bill
tells her he won't go.


Edith cannot sleep and Agnes joins her. She tells Agnes that Hubert is a considerate
man, putting himself and no-one else at risk. When Agnes learns that Edith's sons
are not back, she is surprised. She suggests they might have made camp somewhere.
Agnes confides in Edith that she has never found it easy to make friends. She is pleased
that she isn't in Jenny's shoes and says she would rather 'travel light'. Edith tells her
that Hubert has lit another fire.


The next morning Alice has changed her mind and prepared fruit and grain for Bill to
take to the Walter's farm. Jenny offers to stay with her. Alice asks if she means "as a
sort of hostage". She replies "as a sort of friend".


Owen and Steve's horses have returned to the farm, but they themselves are
nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, Charles and Bill have stopped on their journey
to eat a meal. Bill tells Charles how Alice gets lonely and Charles suggests that
they should move.


They discuss how most of what is grown these days goes to waste. Bill tells him
that he traded with Sanders giving him medical services in return for grain. Charles
thinks that everyone needs to get together to start to trade. He shows him Fenton's
notebook. Charles suggest that Bill organises people to get together at Highley station
on the pretext that he is leaving the area and wants payment for his services in the
form of goods. In fact the idea will be to get them to meet each other there to trade.
They decide that the Friday after they get back to Alice and Jenny should be the first
'market day'.


Their conversation is interrupted by a sighting of the car they heard a few days
earlier. Back at the Walter's farm, whilst Bill doses the herd, Charles tells Agnes
and Edith that he thinks the driver of the car could have been Greg. Agnes is not
so sure and thinks Charles is jumping to conclusions.


Agnes and Charles set off on horseback to track down Owen and Steve. The trail
leads to Highley train station, where they find one of their crossbows.


Some days later, Alice tells Jenny about her and Bill's isolated existence and
how she longs for company. She also reminisces about Saturday nights out at
the pub, before the death.


Bill and Charles return and there is a happy reunion for Bill and Alice. Charles
tells Jenny that he has some news for her.


When Jenny learns that Greg may have been in the car, she is desperate to leave
in search of him. Charles agrees to go with her, but Bill tells him he can't go as it
would mean going through the rabies country where he was hunted by Sanders
and the other men. Instead Bill elects to go with Jenny himself whilst Charles and
Alice will stay behind. They agree to all meet up again on market day at Highley
station.


On market day, Charles and Alice are making their way by boat to the station. En
route Charles tells her that it doesn't matter if only a few people turn up as long as
a start is made, a bridgehead. He sees the market as much more than just an
opportunity to trade, but a chance to make friends and catch up on the gossip.
As they continue on their way they meet a man and spot a woman both heading
for the station.


Edith and Hubert reach the station platform first carrying fleeces. They are soon
joined by a woman and a man both with different goods. Charles and Alice arrive
shortly after. The man (Elphick) is suspicious of Charles seeing as he has come from
upstream. Charles is worried that the man may think from his appearance that he
is the hunted man who has rabies. An eccentric man arrives with a piglet in a pram.


Hubert tells Charles that Agnes has fallen ill. Another woman arrives. A few of those
gathered talk about Bill's forthcoming departure from the area. Elphick talks about
Sanders and the fact that the man he was hunting got away.


It is suggested that Sanders should send down grain to the Walter's mill in exchange
for ploughshares which could be made by Edith's sons. Charles gives away the fact
that he has been to Dovedale (the rabies area). People start to get anxious as to
whether Bill is coming or not. Elphick suggests something may have happened to
him. Alice is adamant that it has not.


One of the women, Susan, explains to Edith how she keeps bees and has honey.
Elphick complains that trading meat is no good without salt. Charles tells him
about the brine pits they used to visit up in Chester. The man reveals that he
makes cheese. Charles is excited that everyone is learning what each other has.
However, Elphick thinks a trick has been played on them. Charles admits that a
trick 'of sorts' has been played. Elphick draws his shotgun...


Bill and Jenny arrive by car! Charles tells Elphick that Bill isn't going to leave and
that he has instead brought them all together to trade. He tells them they need to
make a society and asks if they had thought of setting up a school for their children.
He suggests the waiting room as a potential venue and Edith as a possible teacher.
Elphick complains that he has nothing to offer as he was a bricklayer before the
death. Charles disagrees saying they will always need new buildings. Elphick thinks
there is no way they can make mortar.


Jenny arrives on the platform and says they can get lime to make mortar from the
place she has just visited. There is also coal in Dovedale and a train that can bring
everyone what they need, provided they have things to trade. Jenny explains that
Greg had made a long round trip to set up a section of the rail network again and
had to change the points on different routes in order to get trains moving again. She
goes on to explain that Greg got back to Dovedale the day after Charles left. Greg
had got the car working but it had broken down when two girls, who had been sent
to check the track at this end had been driving it. Owen and Steve had found them
and helped them to get it going again and gone back to Dovedale with them.


As Jenny relates this information a train comes into view and pulls into the station.
Edith is reunited not only with Owen and Steve, but Tom as well. A distressed
Jenny explains that Greg left Tom in charge as he went North to find a doctor for
some sick children. They have missed each other once again.


Alice and Bill discuss moving to the station. Hubert tells Charles and Jenny that it is
time they are on their way. Charles states that they'll go North after Greg and jokes
that if Highley is going to become an important market town that they'd better reach
Greg before he sets up the capital!

 

 

Episode Review

Bridgehead is appropriately a bridging episode. The plot ties up the majority of the loose ends which remain unresolved from Law of the Jungle and Mad Dog, including the search for Tom Walter, the reclamation of the Walter's farm, the rabies scare in Dovedale and Greg's behind-the-scenes 'steam for survival' efforts. With so many elements to fit into the episode, a little too much exposition is foisted on the viewer and perhaps not enough action.

However, as the piece is almost entirely character led, further background and development is pleasingly bestowed upon all the regulars. We learn that Agnes is intent on 'travelling light' for fear of ending up like Jenny. Jenny herself is becoming more obsessive about Greg and perhaps more selfish as a result. Hubert is suddenly considerate and brave enough to deal with the brucellosis outbreak alone, in order that no-one else becomes infected. Whilst Charles's vocal realisation that he is exhilarated by the life he is living, coupled with his strategic plans to get the market going, accentuate further the strength of his vision and ambition to federate the nation.

The Walter's farm subplot is a little frustrating as neither Edith, nor her sons are remotely likeable. Like Jenny, the viewer may be thinking what are they still doing at the farm? However, the return of Tom, Owen and Steve, and the Walter's family's future involvement in the Highley set up promised at the end of the episode are perhaps pay-off enough for our limited interest to have been sustained.

Bridgehead takes place over several weeks, but because we witness events over fifty minutes it is quite difficult to keep up with where the characters are, how long it is taking them to make their journeys and how much time has passed between scenes. For instance, Charles and Bill are reunited with Jenny and Alice in a scene which immediately follows Charles and Agnes's investigation of Highley station, meaning a scene-to-scene gap of two days at least. Its safe to say that Bridgehead must contain the most to-ing and fro-ing of any Survivors episode.

The 'just missing Greg' plot is now becoming risible. Everyone bar Jenny and Charles seem to be able to meet up with Greg without too much difficulty, and whenever they go off to search for anyone else they invariably find them!

Bridgehead tries to achieve too much in too short space of time. However, if any longer had been taken with the relatively dull plots on offer here, we may have had a disaster on our hands. Instead Martin Worth provides a competent, if cluttered episode.

Rating: 7/10



Episode 31: Bridgehead

writer: Martin Worth
first broadcast:
13th April 1977


Regular Cast:

Charles Vaughan: Denis Lill
Jenny Richards:
Lucy Fleming
Agnes Carlsson:Anna Pitt
Hubert Goss: John Abineri

Guest Cast:

Bill Sheridan:
John Ronane
Alice:
Hazel McBride
Edith Walter:
Barbara Lott
Steve Walter:
Eric Deacon
Owen Walter:
Keith Varnier
Mavis: Cheryl Hall
Elphick:
Harry Jones
Bagley:
John Ruddock
Susan:
Rosalind Elliot


designer: Geoff Powell
director:
George Spenton-Foster
producer:
Terence Dudley
episode recorded: 
7th - 12th February 1977



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