What are 'location visits'?
Organised fan interest in Survivors revived in the early 1990s, re-ignited by the first repeats of the programme on satellite and cable channel UK Gold, and by the release in 1993 of the show's first season by BBC Video. And yet it's not surprising — given Survivors bleak central premise — that the show remains a minority taste even amongst fans of British genre television of the era.
Enthused by the appearance of a panel of Survivors' actors and directors at the 1994 Dreamwatch convention and the publication of Kevin Marshall's masterly work The Making of Terry Nation's Survivors, a network of fans began to emerge eager to share their interest in the show.
Since then, Survivors enthusiasts have published fan fiction; visited conventions and other events at which Survivors' actors and directors have appeared; enjoyed theatre trips to productions featuring Survivors' performers; and been involved in the production of a catalogue of fanzines, newsletters and websites dedicated to the show. Various e-mail based discussion lists have also enabled fans to share information and discuss aspects of the programme.
Initially supported by the work of the Over the Hills fanzine and fan club (founded by Carole Stevens) and subsequently the efforts of Whitecross Calling magazine (edited by Mark Wheatley) and Bridgehead: the Survivors Newsletter (run by Steve Brailsford and Lynne Sweetman), fans began to discuss the potential of organising Survivors 'events'.
One of the obvious and affordable pleasures available to British fans was to visit some of the key Survivors filming locations. The majority of the series was shot by OB (Outside Broadcast) units 'on location' using both video and film cameras. Survivors made use of numerous picturesque, evocative and often isolated locations — principally across rural England, but including settings in Wales and Scotland as well.
A group of fans became involved in the challenging task of seeking out and identifying Survivors filming locations, often guided only by the twenty-five year old memories of the show's producers and performers — sometimes of sites that they had visited for just a day or two! Over the years, the dedicated and persistent efforts of fans too numerous to list (but who include Bob Meade, Adrian Hulme, Chris Barker, Mark Wheatley and Steve Brailsford) has resulted in an extensive (and growing) list of confirmed sites from across all three seasons.
In 1996 the first organised Survivors group location visit took place, with its centrepiece a tour of the house and grounds of Hampton Court in Hope-under-Didmore — the setting for the latter half of the first season. Since then more than a dozen 'Reunions' (as they have come to be called) have been organised — taking in filming locations as far afield as Gloucestershire, Derbyshire, the Severn Valley, and Perthshire in Scotland.
During location trips, fans visit the sites in which the series was shot, photographing and video-taping the sites as they appear in the present day. Aided by the kinds of 'screen-shots' seen throughout this website, fans are able to establish, with great accuracy the precise points at which camera crews were placed and actors performed. Fans discuss the episodes in question, pool information on the production process, and — equally as importantly for many — enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for the show with other Survivors devotees.
Location visits, particularly those involving new sites, are often preceeded by smaller 'scouting' trips, when the sites in question are tracked down and identified. The location trips themselves then often serve as the collective 'confirmation' by fans of the new finds.
Perhaps the single most dramatic location trip to date has been 'The Hampton Court Experience' organised by Adrian Hulme for 7 September 2002, when fans were able to tour the interior filming locations of the vast stately home near Leominster in Herefordshire which served as the central filming location for the latter half of the first season of Survivors. Although the Hampton Court grounds are now open to paying visitors, the house itself had been off-limits at the time and this was an unprecedented opportunity for fans. (Access to sections of the Castle is now available to Hampton Court visitors).
The most recent trip around the filming locations for Mad Dog
took place in October 2008— a report of which can be read here.
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