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THIS WEEK IN ROSS-ON-WYE
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Issue No. 41 [Back Issues]
19th April 2005

This Week - [Live TV Interview - St. Weonard's School] [AGA Open Day - Topical Photography] [Survivors - Nature Watch]

Thirty years on . . . Back in the good old days of 1975, along with another seven to ten million viewers I used to enjoy watching Terry Nation's television series, 'Survivors,' which was broadcast on BBC1, beginning at 08:10 of a Wednesday evening. The series told the story of a small group who survived in a world without technology, following a population loss of around 99.9% due to a plague.

What was not immediately apparent on watching the programme however was that, much of the first series of 'Survivors' was filmed in and around the local area, with a location in Ross-on-Wye Town featuring in the very first episode 'The Fourth Horseman.' The cast of the series stayed at the Chase Hotel during filming and were bussed to the various other local locations, daily.

Through this small article and maybe further follow on features, I thought it would be intersting to point out some of the film locations for both local people and visitors alike. I have already discovered that the series still has a huge following!

'The Fourth Horseman'. A few characters who were destined to survive the illness were introduced to the viewer in this, the beginning of the first series. The Ross-on-Wye scene was filmed at night, in the rain. People were dying by the millions and 'David Grant' the character played by actor, Peter Bowles met the local doctor to persuade him to visit his apparently dying wife, Abby (Carolyn Seymour). As it turned out, Abby survived the illness, awaking after a sleep of several days to discover her husband, David dead on the sofa.

'Genesis'. The second episode followed a few of the survivors and how they came to meet up with one another. As well as locations in Lydney and Clenchers Mill Ford, Bromsberrow, the programme featured the church at Harewood End. The church, now redundant and forming part of the estate owned by the Duchy of Cornwall is pictured below. A workman on the estate turned a blind eye, allowing me access last week to photograph the building from exactly the same location as that used towards end of the episode and the beginning of the next. Survivors, Jenny Richards, (Lucy Fleming) and her, by now travelling companion, Greg Peterson (Ian McCulloch) spotted a bonfire in the distance at night and the couple decided to investigate. On arriving at the church and having walked past the two distinctive graves in the foreground, they met up with Abby Grant to form a trio.

Continued . . .


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'Gone Away'. Continuing the story with the trio leaving Harewood End, locations in Mordiford, Withington, Hoarwithy and petrol pumps just outside Hampton Bishop were used. Foy Bridge however featured extremely prominently. After driving over Mordiford Bridge, escaping a not so friendly community of survivors, the newly formed group, Greg, Jenny and Abby travel alongside the River Wye, stopping at Foy, where Abby, wondering whether her son had survived, got out of the car, walking onto the suspension bridge. There, she is seen, standing deep in thought, on the spot from which I took the photograph below a few years ago. Nothing much has changed about the bridge during the past thirty years, although the 'kissing gate,' on the Brampton Abbotts side of the bridge and pictured in the heading, could perhaps do with a fresh coat of paint and some restoration work.

Continued . . .


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'Corn Dolly'. Pictured left is well known local character, Bernard Matthews of Llangrove, in the workshop of his garage, opposite the village Post Office. I took this photograph last Wednesday, 13th April 2005.

Bernard owned the garage back in 1975 and well remembers the filming of this episode by his petrol pumps, which are sadly no longer there to photograph.
'We were paid to keep very quiet for the day, whilst the filming went on over there,' he remembered, pointing to where the pumps had once stood. 'The place had to sound deserted.'

At Llangrove Garage, survivor, Greg was attempting to devise a pump to retrieve petrol from the tanks in order to fuel their vehicles.

The other main location used during this episode was Bernithan Court, Llangarron.

BBC DVD sets are available of at least the first and second series of 'Survivors'. I bought series one from Amazon to help me with this article and I am currently watching it through again, using my lap-top, in bed. It is as good to watch today as it was thirty years ago!

I will publish more location photographs during the coming weeks as I discover them. In the meantime however, further information on Terry Nation's 'Survivors' can be found on the web site of Bob Meades, which I discovered during my initial research. Thank you, Bob.
A.J.W.

PS. If you happen to be viewing from Llangrove and are able to show this article to Bernard, I would be grateful if you would do so. Although a version will probably be published in a future Ross Recorder, which I know he reads, it would be nice if he were able to view the web version as well. Bernard is a great, very popular and very photogenic local personality!

PPS. By pure coincidence, this article is published on the thirtieth anniversary week of the first 'Survivors' broadcast. The first episode was broadcast on 16th April 1975 but I did not find this information out until after having already written it, deciding my own publication date. Not being much of a television watcher or 'Radio Times' reader these days myself, (the chance would be a fine thing) I didn't see the article about Survivors in the magazine. I was told about the anniversary by my friend, Kevin Sale, after mentioning to him that I had written the above.



Ross-on-Wye Nature Watch

Above. Greater Stitchwort - Stellaria holostea. Photographed in the woods at the Doward, close to King Arthur's Cave, this plant flowers in April and is generally common in open woodland and hedgerows. The insect on the flower to the right is an added bonus.

Below. Bulbous Buttercup - Ranunculus bulbosus. An early specimen, photographed in Dymock Wood, this plant usually favours dry grassland during the month of May.


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