Character Review - Charles Vaughan
Charles Vaughan is arguably the best drawn of the series' central characters. He is also one of the show's more obvious heroes but is by no means faultless.
He is introduced in Corn Dolly as an expert in self-sufficiency whose knowledge a nd experiences have suddenly become incredibly important following the catastrophe of 'the death'. Of all the survivors Charles is initially the most readily equipped to survive. However he has a flaw that will prove instrumental in driving away all of the people he meets in those first few months, namely an obsession with the idea of repopulating the new world. He has estimated the likely number of survivors and feels his maths justifys an urgency for all female survivors to conceive. He has already 'done the rounds' so to speak with the female members of his community at Maredell and his next subjects are Abby and Jenny. When he is swiftly rebuffed by both of them and they leave with Greg, Charles is left to ponder his actions...
When Charles meets Greg again a few good months later, in Birth of a Hope, he appears to have changed for the better. He has settled down at a new community called Whitecross and has a seemingly permanent partner in Pet Simpson. When the community at the Grange meets with disaster, Charles is eager that Greg and his followers join them at Whitecross, although he is very much aware of the tension this will create. However, before the catastrophe at the Grange he told Pet he wouldn't ask Greg to join them as it was clear that Greg was a leader not a follower. This tension over leadership builds throughout the second series and it is clear throughout that the settlement isn't big enough for the both of them. Charles is portrayed as dearly loving the community ideal and makes a great effort to keep everyone on the right track and ensure each individual's fair treatment and safety. Until New World he has high hopes that Whitecross may even become a thriving market town one day. Unfortunately his dreams are never to be quite fulfilled.
In Greater Love, Charles is determined that Jenny recovers from the birth of her son and not only to ensure Greg stays at Whitecross. Unfortunately however, the decisions he reaches with Greg and the others, ultimately lead to Paul's untimely death.
In Lights of London Part 1, Charles and Greg set off like knights in shining armour after Ruth, the medical damsel in distress, when she is taken to London against her will. In Lights of London Part 2, the duo become embroiled in the politics and plans of the settlement at the Oval and it takes a good deal of bravery for them to escape with Ruth back to the coun try.
In Face of the Tiger, Charles' continued eagerness to recruit new Whitecross citizens is apparent when Alistair MacFadden arrives. However, his hopes are thwarted when the man's past is revealed and it is believed for a time that he has murdered young John. Alistair is to be the first in a long line of failed recruits.
The Witch sees Charles practicality and leadership come to the fore when he quashes the rumours that are spreading about Mina. Whilst in A Friend in Need, Charles and Greg attempt to come to some common agreements with neighbouring settlements. Charles is passionate about federation and more often than not is unable to hide his frustration when others refuse to co-operate, as is the case here.
The arrival of former clergyman Lewis Fearns and youngsters Judy and Philip in By Bread Alone, causes new problems for Charles. On the one hand he has to promote the importance of the hard graft that needs to be carried out to keep the settlement going especially when Lewis's status is revealed, whilst on the other hand he has to try to accommodate the needs of the new arrivals. Ultimately Charles is unable to retain Judy and Philip who are looking for a less hierarchical set up, whilst Lewis's religious convictions and influence are accepted for the sake of others.
The Chosen sees Charles and Pet visit a settlement where eugenics, euthanasia, discipline and religious fervour are the order of the day. Charles tries to be accepting of their agenda, but can' t help but find their views to be abhorrent to him. Once more Charles' hopes of federation with other communities are thwarted.
The arrival of the youngsters from a failed settlement in New Arrivals puts both Charles' leadership and the viability of his agricultural strategies in doubt. Mark Carter believes he has all the answers, causing Charles to re-evaluate his position. Ultimately the situation goes as far as a community vote on both issues. Charles retains his leadership but Carter's agricultural methods are adopted. That Charles is willing to make himself this vulnerable to ensure the right path is taken speaks volumes about the strength of his resolve and beliefs.
In Over The Hills Charles once more becomes unstuck on the topic of repopulation when Sally becomes pregnant. This time however the waters are muddied further by the sudden pronounced generation gap at Whitecross and his own desire to have a child by Pet. Charles comes out of events as opinionated and bull-headed, especially when he argues with Ruth, but ultimately he realizes that he cannot win this particular war at Whitecross. It is likely that only Lizzie and John's generation will learn if the level of Charles' reaction to the issue of repopulation was ever justified. Despite these stormy events, Charles manages to secure a deeper understanding of Pet and their relationship appears stronger than ever.
New World marks a turning point for Charles and for the Whitecross settlement. The discovery of Agnes' father and his detailed notes gives Charles and Greg a window on the world beyond Whitecross and a firmer foundation than ever before, from which they can both to fulfil their socio-political ambitions. However, Norway becomes the first priority and Greg's journey there finally gives Charles full rein at Whitecross.
Before Charles is given the opportunity to make any personal efforts towards federation he becomes preoccupied with attempts to locate Greg on his return. From Manhunt on with Jenny and Hubert at his side, and Pet, Jack, John and Lizzie now relocated to Challoner, Charles spends several hard months embroiled in many dangerous situations along the way. It is in these encounters with warrior chief Brod, philosopher Fenton, Sanders and the Walters family, that Charles is portrayed as a man of action as well as a political animal. He is seen to be willing to fight for his life as well as talk about his beliefs.
These are dangerous times for Charles. In Law of the Jungle is left for dead by Brod, whilst in Mad Dog Charles is put through a memorably terrifying chain of events that ultimately see him pursued as a rabid dog. His will to survive pulls him through but it is a close run thing.
Charles' fine organizational abilities see him pull off the embryonic farmer's market at the train station in Bridgehead, something that had seemed impossible. It is little victories like this that fires Charles up to achieve more. During this episode Charles relates to Jenny that he feels lucky to be living in the post-plague world because of the freedom and the opportunities it affords him.
Charles develops a close relationship with Jenny during the search for Greg. That Charles is keen to protect Jenny is never in doubt and appreciated by the latter. In Reunion it is clear that Charles does not understand Jenny's desire to return to Challoner with Janet. Indeed, Jenny perceives a distinct lack of sensitivity in him and in The Peacemaker accuses him of preferring to 'play at pilgrimages' rather than taking care of those people who she thinks should matter more to him, such as Pet. Jenny's doubts about Charles' motivation are furthered by the group's sudden diversion to seek out an engineer, rather than to continue on to find Greg.
Their visit to the community at the windmill brings Charles some intellectual stimulation in the form of Frank Garner. Frank sees Charles for what he is, firstly as a ticket of the community and secondly as an ideal leader of a federated land. Frank's beliefs affords Charles some confidence, which has taken a knocking since his Whitecross days, especially as Frank's words are fulfilled when the next people that they meet, those living at the church in Sparks, directly ask for Charles' leadership.
Whilst attempting to secure Alec Campbell's compliance, in what has become a quest for electrical power, Charles takes no prisoners. He clumsily manipulates both Alec and Jenny in The Enemy, with mixed results. By now Charles appears to have recognised that the search for Greg has been futile. He is passionate about the new quest, perhaps because success in this endeavour will stand as his most useful contribution to the post-plague world thus far. His comments in Bridgehead about meeting up with Greg before he sets up the capital also confirms that their competitive rivalry stil motivates Charles to achieve success.
Only Charles agrees to the reunion with Greg in Long Live The King. Once he learns that Greg is dead and that Agnes is behind the birth of a new currency, Charles reactions are mixed. Perhaps above all else Charles recognises that his rivalry with Greg is over and that he is now able to pursue his goals, free of any comparison, however self-imposed this comparison may have been. Charles completes his quest to restore electricity in Power and presumably returns to the growing community at Sloton Spencer afterwards. Although it seems unlikely that he would be satisifed with juts being king of that particular castle, with the birth of a federated nation all around him.
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Page last updated: 22nd November 2002 All text © Andy Priestner Screen Captures © BBC