Character Review - Jenny Richards
Jenny is first seen tending to her sick flatmate, Pat, in London as the death sweeps throughout the country in The Fourth Horseman. From her first episode there are signs that Jenny is not as weak as she is first comes across. She demands answers from the doctor at the hospital and later berates him for his treatment of his sick girlfriend. Following his advice, Jenny leaves the capital and sets out on a trek which sees her scared and alone for what seems like days. When she finally meets Greg in Genesis she faints presumably due to a combination of relief and exhaustion.
However, it is not long before Jenny perks up, having found the company of another survivor at last. Jenny and Greg's first meeting with Abby at the close of the episode is clearly a special moment which informs the viewer that these three characters are the series' heroes. Jenny comes across as the weakest member of the trio, but given the abnormal strength and vision of the character's of Abby and Greg this is hardly to Jenny's detriment. In these early episodes there are occasional glimpses of Jenny's hidden strengths. She ably disarms one of Wormley's men, prompting the group's escape in Gone Away, and later in the same episode maturely comforts a distressed Abby, as she has her crisis of confidence in the famous bridge scene. Whilst in Corn Dolly, like Abby, she calmly stands up to Charles Vaughn, something she will become very used to by the time of the final series.
It is also in Corn Dolly that we learn that Jenny and Greg have developed a romantic connection, sharing their first kiss as they make bread. It is not yet clear that her relationship with Greg will become a central aspect of the series, which will ultimately drive the action, but the seeds are nevertheless sown. Unfortunately from this point on Jenny's role as dependent sees her fade into the background for a time, as the focus shifts from Starvation onwards, from the adventures of the three heroes, to the trials of Greg and Abby's leadership of the first community instead. Jenny's frustration with the new order is occasionally apparent. She accuses Greg of chauvinism at one point, protesting that she and Charmian could have driven to the quarry in Spoil of War. She also opposes his tough solution to the problems which arise from Wendy's murder, voting for Barney's banishment over his execution.
Jenny is finally given the opportunity to take centre-stage again when she and Greg go off in convoy to trade petrol with Little Barton in Something of Value. She gets to wield a gun once more and makes a memorable escape from Lawson and his men, returning to the community for help. In the final episode of the first series, A Beginning, we learn that Jenny is pregnant, a situation which is set to spark much drama as the second series begins...
Along with Arthur, Paul and the children, Jenny was one of the few survivors of the fire at the Grange in Birth of a Hope. By this time she is heavily pregnant and upon arrival at Charles Vaughn's Whitecross settlement is almost full term. The arrival of medical student Ruth is a great relief to her as she gives birth to a baby boy. However, there are complications with the afterbirth and in Greater Love Paul volunteers to retrieve some drugs to save Jenny's life. In doing so he ultimately gives his own life having succumbed to a disease contracted in the city. It is an act that Jenny never forgets and refers to frequently for the rest of the series.
Returning to health Jenny dons dungarees and is once more reduced to a background role, whilst Greg once more, and now Charles as well, take the limelight. It is a criticism often levelled at the second series that it reduces the female members of the community to ciphers with very little to do. Whereas this may not really be the case on the whole, in Jenny's case there is some evidence to support this, as she is largely seen dividing her time between domestic chores and caring for baby Paul. However she is given a few opportunities to shine. In A Friend In Need she courageously acts as bait for the woman killing sniper and in By Bread Alone she memorably challenges the convictions of Lewis Fearns. Whilst in the season finale New World she finally gets to ride a horse, something she's about to do a lot more of in the final series.
This last episode also sees Jenny realise that her cosy Whitecross life with Greg has run its course as Greg elects to leave for Norway with Agnes Carlsson to help her countrymen there. He promises to return, but Jenny is quite rightly doubtful that he will. The series ends with Jenny waving him off for the very last time as he leaves Whitecross by hot air balloon.
The final series sees the character of Jenny finally fulfil her potential as she becomes the female lead, partnering Charles and Hubert as they search England for Greg. This is a changed Jenny who is now very comfortable with a gun and an accomplished horsewoman (as indeed was Fleming). She is also seen to stand up for herself an awful lot more. However this may only seem to be the case because Jenny was rarely in the centre of the action before. In Manhunt she is prepared to kill to protect herself and Hubert, and in A Little Learning she is more than able to look after herself as she searches for Greg alone. She also appears to be more hardened to the reality of the situations she faces. In Law of the Jungle for instance she is prepared to give herself to Brod in order to further their chances of escape.
Jenny's treatment of Agnes is interesting. She blames her for Greg's absence and suspects her of having had an affair with Greg. It is to be some time before she is to learn whether her suspicions are correct. Her relationship with Charles is deepened as the series progresses. The pair know each other very well by now, but are often opposed in outlook. As the final series reaches its halfway point just as Abby tired of her search for Peter in the first series, Jenny tires of her search for Greg. In Reunion she elects to return to Challoner to be reunited with baby Paul, rather than following up yet another potential reunion with Greg.
After The Peacemaker, in which Jenny confronts Charles about his 'playing at pilgrimages', the focus of the series switches to a quest to restore electric power to the country. In Sparks she is used by Frank Garner to shock electrician Alec Campbell out of his depression as he mentally substitutes her for his dead wife. Jenny thereafter has a special relationship with Alec and it is clear there is an attraction between the pair. This is something which Charles encourages in The Enemy, leading him into a fierce argument with Jenny who is determined to remain loyal to the absent Greg.
In Long Live the King, Jenny once more passes up the opportunity of a possible meeting with Greg, but ultimately finds out from Agnes that Greg has died. However she also learns that Agnes has loved him for some time, but is relieved to hear that these feelings were not reciprocated. In point of fact Greg had actually put his love for her above the bigger picture of federation, the resoration of government and the people of Norway, much to Agnes's chagrin.
In the final episode of Survivors, Power, Jenny learns that Alec has feelings for her, but she feels it is too soon after hearing of Greg's death for her to make a commitment to him. Once hydro- electric power is restored she leaves Scotland with Charles and Hubert, presumably to be reunited with her son once more back at Sloton Spencer.
Jenny comes a long way in the series' 38 episodes. She reaches Power as a woman, very much changed by her experiences, now equipped to face the many dangers of the new world of the Survivors.
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Page last updated: 22nd November 2002 All text © Andy Priestner Screen Captures © BBC