Character Review - Talfryn Thomas
Our initial encounters with Tom Price, suggest that his intelligence is limited and his expectations unrealistic. Of all the survivors his understanding of what has actually happened and what it will mean for mankind is the most lacking. In Genesis he even insists that the Americans will be over shortly to sort it all out. Clearly what is important to Tom is not what has occurred or how he will survive, a matter he addresses on a day-to-day basis, but rather that for once in his life he is now a member of the privileged few. The death gives him the opportunity to briefly experience the trappings of wealth and he grasps it firmly by taking a jaunt in a Rolls Royce and looting a natty suit in Genesis. These incidents also exemplify Tom's quick fix character and ignorance of consequence. The car runs out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, whilst the suit looks ridiculous on him and is totally impractical. This trait will ultimately have the direst consequences for himself and his fellow survivors.
In our next encounter with Tom in Gone Away we witness another of his unerring tendencies; falling in with the winning side. At first he is eager to join up with Abby, Jenny and Greg as he sees it as expedient for him to do so. Later when the balance swings in favour of Wormley's cronies, Tom immediately succumbs to their demands, leaving with them to register at their headquarters. When he turns up again in Starvation he once more submits to Abby and Greg, who are clearly in control of things at the Grange, agreeing to stay under their rules and conditions.
Tom meets two other survivors during the course of this episode, both of whom will figure with him in the most tragic turn of events seen in the series, apart from the death itself. Wendy is the first of these. Tom is immediately attracted to this pretty young woman. His sexual frustration is clear to Wendy and she quite wisely removes herself from his vicinity. Tom shortly after bravely tries to bargain for 'payment in kind' with Abby. His demands and threat are ultimately laughed off when he is incarcerated in his van by Abby and Wendy. However, given what happens a couple of episodes later, these scenes retain a sinister quality in retrospect. Tom also meets simple Barney for the first time in Starvation, and the young man immediately falls under his protection and guidance. Tom for once has the upper hand, as Barney is a man who will look up to him and who he can therefore control and use. Indeed in Spoil of War he attempts to put Barney in danger to save his own neck, a move in which he will be devastatingly successful in executing in the next episode...
Tom's character flaws cause the deaths of both Wendy and Barney in Law and Order. In a startling turn of events he murders the former whilst in a drunken stupor when she refuses his advances. When Barney is offered up by the majority of the community as the most likely suspect, Tom ensures that his young apprentice will become his scapegoat. Tom's responses to the events that follow appear to be more cowardly than evil. He first votes Barney to be innocent and later that he should be banished rather than killed. When this outcome is overruled by Abby's casting vote and Greg is assigned to execute Barney, Tom cracks, but too late to save his innocent friend. The enormity of what he has done does seem to have hit home with the Welshman as the episode closes.
Greg spares Tom's life for the good of the community, only for it to be taken away in The Future Hour, when he is shot by Huxley's men at the end of the episode. Tom's death is entirely characteristic, as he fires his gun without thinking of the consequences. Greg's epitaph for Tom speaks volumes "He did worse things". Ultimately it seems that although Greg and Abby could cope with what the man had done, the production team could not and Tom therefore met his demise.
Talfryn Thomas's colourful portrayal of Tom Price has been much praised by fans of the series. Ian McCulloch (Greg) remembers feeling that his departure was a great loss to the series, whereas Carolyn Seymour was altogether less comfortable with his presence.
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Page last updated: 22nd November 2002 All text © Andy Priestner Screen Captures © BBC