A Question & answer
Stephen Dudley –
John Millen in Survivors.
Oct – Dec 2004
With many thanks to Sue Dudley (Stephen’s wife)
And to Andy & Rich.
I'd like to know what Stephen remembers about the series 3 episode "Reunion"
principally because this episode required him to act more than any other and also whether he missed Tanya Ronder as a playmate
during the final series?
Thanks and best wishes.
1. I was at that happy age when boys are not really interested in girls. I think that Tanya may have missed the bright lights whereas I was very happy in the
countryside. With relatively small parts in series 3 the recording was more disjointed for us, and I am sorry to say that
I have very little recollection of Tanya's successor (no offence). We were much more involved in the earlier series.
I always read the whole script, but it was really only seeing the rushes or the episode on transmission that the whole
thing came together, because things were frequently recorded out of sequence depending on which location was being used and
who was needed. I do remember, though, thinking how
harrowing it would be to suddenly discover, having finished grieving, that the mother you thought was dead is alive, and that
the displacement and sense of betrayal would be devastating. I suppose that people who are adopted have
to face this.
To become a craftsman, one must first be a journeyman, and apart from knowing your words and your cues the
basic job of the actor is to put himself in the shoes of his character. I thought
at the time, and increasingly with hindsight how emotionally honest the moral and ethical dilemmas were which lay at the heart
of Survivors. Euthanasia, murder, polygamy, power, barter: the series challenged so many of the fundamental assumptions
about life and societies that we take for granted.
Do you have any memories of working on the two Doom watch episodes
as a very young child - another series on which your father
served as a
Were you allowed
to look at the whole of the Survivors scripts in which you appeared - or was some of the content seen as 'too grown up' for
young eyes? Did that mean you were allowed to watch the series as it was transmitted
How much guidance did you and Tanya Ronder get on your performance
from the different directors - either in rehearsal or on location?
did you think about your performance in the series - either at the time or since?
did your compulsory school lessons take place while you were filming - on location, at the hotel where you were staying, or
What are some of your happiest memories from your time on Survivors?
From Rich Cross
2. I have very clear recollections of Waiting for a knighthood,
not least because I have always had a passion for wargaming and model soldiers! In fact manufacturers were moving at
the time toward "white metal" rather than lead for the soldiers, and reducing the toxicity of paint, but as ever the big business
of the petrol manufacturers were very far behind.
We now take such things as lead free petrol, recycling, biological weapons, plastic eating viruses in our stride, and
a conscience about the Environment is normal rather than cranky, but Doomwatch was very much ahead of its time. Tomorrow the Rat remains one of my favourite episodes, not only because my father wrote it, and both
he and my mother appeared in it as well, but because it has a compelling theme. (My father drives the car that
overturns and my mother pushes the pram and screams as the rat emerges from the WC. Ever since she has always kept the lid
down, she claims it is something to do with feng shui, but I am not so sure)
Animals do evolve, and we are now inventing heuristic machines, but we are only stewards of creation, not
lords of it. Scientific advances must come with moral ownership. Interestingly I heard recently that scientists were successfully
experimenting with using rats in search and rescue situations, and to detect explosives in hazardous situations instead of
dogs which require to be accompanied by their handler. Perhaps we are not so far away from Rattus Sapiens?
I was always allowed to watch - and Wednesdays at ten past eight were
sacrosanct. Survivors was a very adult programme in the proper sense of
the word. The violence was horrible, but there was no swearing. The violence depicted was very shocking, but not so much in
its goryness (especially by modern standards) but because of its implication,
and what stands out is that sense of dread in things like Lights of London,
the injustice in Law and order, and particularly
Charles's uncertain fate in Mad Dog.
The directing styles varied with the characters and eccentricities of the directors,
but I felt that they were, to a man clear and courteous, and took the trouble to explain what was needed. This was particularly
important in drafty rehearsal rooms at Acton with nothing more than tape on the floor to delineate the set that we would encounter
in the studio. There was a powerful creative tension, which was mostly positive, but I found it difficult, then to understand
why some of the actors spent so much time arguing with the directors and changing their words!
On the whole I had the greater respect for those players who drew their inspiration for character development within
the framework of the existing dynamic, rather than tried (frustrated directors perhaps) to press themselves into the limelight.
Looking now at the magnificently intense and focused performances from Lucy and Charles, this really strikes home. Caroline
and Ian have spoken elsewhere about this and perhaps it is an alpa personality thing: Garrick and Irving are reported to have
been very difficult to work with!
Looking back, I was very proud to have been a part of the series, and I hope I lived up to the standards of what was
actually a very talented company. The presence of the children gave a context of community and an added poignancy, and there
was quite a lot of "Jenny and John react in horror/surprise/delight" Looking at the episodes thirty years on, I don't think
I need to feel embarrassed, although as I get balder I do look on my hair with wistful regret!
Most of our lessons were sufficiently far away from the action to be quiet, but not so far away that we weren't there
when we were needed. The Lady who taught us (Miss Darleston) was actually one of the two proprietors/headmistresses I have
particularly fond memories of Hampton Court, the house crumbling and damp and full of places to explore and intriguing junk. It is the sort of house one might fantasise about having, and I remember meeting a
chap when I was at Cambridge whose family had bought the place. (His name might have been Hughes)
The people who lived at Callow Hill were wonderful, and I retain that romantic
ideal that stuffy people do of those with the courage to be unconventional. I was lucky enough to see a lamb being born there,
and that is a very happy memory. Perhaps my being so impressed with the location catering has something to do with my subsequent
career in Logistics in the Navy! Certainly food is central to morale, and there is nothing better than a Bacon sandwich and
a nice cup of tea in the bitter cold while it is still dark. The battenburg cake at teatime was just a bonus. It wasn't always cold and muddy (just often). I remember glorious Spring days too, and the scent of wisteria
(which I love) can still transport me back thirty years where one whole wall of what was I think a derelict orangery was smothered
in the vine.
Could you tell us what Terry; your father was really like? To the fans of Survivors, he
was very much the creator of seasons 2 & 3 of this series, but so very little is known about him. To my knowledge, in addition to Survivors, he was involved in Dr Who, Doomwatch & All creatures great
& small. Any others?
I felt your finest hour was in REUNION, which was filmed very near Brecon. For a very young actor, who I understand was not too keen to be in it at all, I felt you performed particularly well in that episode.
Would you agree with that?
have a favourite TV programme? Either modern, or all time? Or both!
Would you happen to know where the locations were that were used in the episode MANHUNT
were? According to BBC records, this episode was made 17th - 23rd Feb. 1977; you
were in this episode trying to turn the starting handle of some old tractor in one
3. There's a question and a half! Terry Dudley, I think the best way I can answer questions about Terry
is in the article: (Below)