Character Review - Lizzie Willoughby

Lizzie [Willoughby - her surname was never given on screen but appeared in the scripts] was one of the first children to be met by Abby, Jenny and Greg after the death in Gone To the Angels. She and her friend John Millon, appeared remarkbaly unaffected by the horrific events that had played out around them, being just too young to understand the gravity of the situation.

Lizzie and John were only too happy to be protected by the three new arrivals and took to them immediately. Once they no longer had to fight for survival themselves, Lizzie and John could once more behave like children. Their adult dress-up clothes are soon discarded in favour of childrenswear and by
Starvation they begin to play up to their surrogate parents. Jenny is clearly frustrated when the children begin to call her 'Mummy' and is perhaps unaware of how much Lizzie and John, who have lived through events children should never experience, really need the security that Jenny and Greg can provide as parents, and how through such name calling they are subconsciously ensuring that the adults play these roles to ensure their ongoing safety.

As the series progresses Lizzie is far gutsier than John, who seems more reserved. However, it is John who displays a colder and more sinister response to the death, perhaps
because he is a little younger. The infamous "you'll be dead soon" line from
Gone To the Angels could never have feasibly been said by Lizzie, who is a more emotional and affectionate child. Despite this, the pair are inseparable, although to be fair they have little choice but to play with each other and they do have their fights. Their argument about the relative merits of boys and girls in The Future Hour is hilarious. Other early highlights include their friendship with Barney and lack of comprehension of the events of Law and Order, their relationship with Aunt Emma and Lizzie's brief experience as a hostage in The Future Hour.

The second series sees Lizzie and John as two of the few survivors of the terrible Grange fire. Once more they are faced with death. At first they try not to acknowledge the truth. However, when Greg tells them that Aunt Emma and the others are dead, Lizzie protests that she knew this all along. Lizzie needs to be right about more things than John and invariably is, although one could argue he is not much competition for the spirited child!

In terms of storylines in the second season, Lizzie is anxious about the fate of John in
The Face of the Tiger, misled about Mina's character in The Witch, a target alongside John for the sniper in A Friend In Need and taken hostage once more in Parasites. Perhaps because of the influx of new characters as the second series drew to a close, Lizzie and John took something of a back seat. They are given no leaving scene with 'father' Greg and instead are just seen to wave him off in New World.

The final series did little to redress this balance. Lizzie and John make minor appearances in
Manhunt and The Last Laugh, but one feels that they are just there to remind the viewer that Jenny is leaving them behind to find Greg. It is a great shame then that Reunion, which finally pays attention to the children once more, concentrates on the far less interesting John, rather than Lizzie (although Tanya Ronder was of course no longer around to put in a memorable performance having been replaced between seasons by Angie Stevens, a very different young actress, in both looks and character).

Lizzie and John are interesting regular characters that provide the viewer with a child's eye view of the catastrophe. In the main, they both cope very well, which of course proves the commonly held adage that children are in many ways far more resilient than adults. Any Survivors follow-up would do well to catch up with the children, but especially Lizzie, to see how she has really been affected by the death and the fight for survival as she reaches adulthood. Of course as a member of a greatly reduced generation, maybe for Lizzie the most important battles were still to come.

Other Lizzie Willoughby / Tanya Ronder, Angie Stevens pages on this site...


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Page last updated: 18th March 2003    All text Andy Priestner   Screen Captures BBC