an interview with Survivors script writer Martin Worth
Martin Worth made a significant contribution to the series, writing seven episodes in total, including the final two episodes of both series two and three.
Involvement in Survivors
"I never met Terry Nation who came up with the first idea which is basically about the panic in the aftermath of the plague. I didn't come into it until that part of the story was over and we were into the community self-sufficiency theme which at that time was a very 'in thing' ".
Callow Hill (Whitecross)
"We went down to Monmothshire, where there was a self sufficient community of about twenty people, all different ages living in this lovely location. We were going to base our Survivors community on this real one. When I went down there to research with the other writers, they were pleased to see us and showed us exactly how they lived and farmed, all the things we needed to see. I wrote a script, then went back later to see it being recorded. I was absolutely horrified because the OB unit had now totally taken over this location. The people who were living there were now huddled together in little caravans, and they had big notices saying 'keep out', 'go away, this is ours'. And their house, where these people had actually lived, was now occupied entirely by actors pretending to be them. The disruption from the production unit was terrible and it did in fact break up the community. They were of course paid a lot of money by the BBC, and that was the only thing they were getting out of it because they couldn't do their farming. So when eventually the BBC went away the whole community broke up and they all disappeared back to the towns they had come from. It was mainly due to the OB unit that we destroyed the very 'Survivors' we were trying to write the series about. So when it came to the third season we couldn't go back there."
By Bread Alone
"By Bread Alone was all about a priest. It was a strong story about a man who was completely impractical and who had not revealed to anyone that he was a parson, because he thought that was a joke, as I'm sure he would feel. In this episode he's discovered to be a priest and it's up to him whether to revive Christianity and its values."
Greg's departure and Series 3
"By the end of the second season, the two main actors, Denis Lill and Ian McCulloch, had to some extent fallen out with each other, so producer Terry Dudley thought it best that the next season should be done without these two ever meeting. So I made a suggestion. At the end of this season, we have Greg sailing off in a hot air balloon never apparently to be seen again! My idea was that he should, in fact, return, to land somewhere else in England and set up a rival community. Even in the exciting episode where Greg and Charles did both feature, they failed to meet face to face as they passed on opposite sides of a wall." (The scene Martin refers to doesn't feature in series three but may have been planned at one stage - Andy).
Law of the Jungle
"I met Brian Blessed a while ago. I should have reminded him of his splendid performance in that episode. Again, we had to find a location, this time by an old railway line. It was about a sort of pirate, a violent buccaneer character whom our heroes have to try and fight off and then turn into a civilised man."
Long Live the King
"I wrote some of the last scripts in which Greg wanted to create a kind of monarchy - hence 'Long Live the King'. There was talk of creating a currency. Barter was what they used before. Now paper money was issued, based on the most valuable commodity they had, which was petrol. Once the currency was in circulation, it didn't matter that the petrol didn't actually exist at all."
"The last episode, Power, was about trying to get hydro-electric power going again. I remember going up to Scotland and getting massive help from the Scottish Hydro-Electricity board. I asked them to imagine a situation in which someone walks into a defunct and deserted plant and has somehow to get the place working. What does he do? What mistakes would he make? I wanted every detail and no cheating. They responded brilliantly to the challenge. I was shown that even if you got the power station working, a sub-station somewhere else had to activated too if the current was to get onto the national grid. So I insisted on visiting this sub-station too. We got into a car and drove to the mountain-side where it was and I was shown exactly how it worked. Getting it all right, doing accurate research, is very satisfying. Do it responsibly and you can always get dramatic value out of the difficulties you encounter."
"I don't recall there being a script editor for Survivors. Terry (Dudley) was in charge of everything. And though the shape of this last season was largely dictated by his view of a personality clash between the two leading actors, I think he made a mistake in allowing the survivors to succeed in getting the country organized again. Though it was fun to write, it effectively killed off the series. If we'd stayed with the community in Wales trying to get by through their own self-sufficiency, it could have gone on for many more seasons."
[N.B. Martin's recollections are taken from an interview conducted by Andrew Pixley and Anthony McKay
in 1988. The full interview can be read on the Timescreen website which is listed on my Links page.]
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