Denis Lill and Gareth Thomas
The final connection linking Mad Dog and The Watercress Girl is provided by the leading actors from both dramas — Denis Lill and Gareth Thomas.
Survivors director Pennant Roberts remembers that Gareth Thomas was sent the script for the first season episode Corn Dolly in the hope that he would audition for the guest role of Maredell settlement leader Charles Vaughan. Thomas was reluctant to take on another one-off, one-episode TV role, and declined the offer.
According to Roberts, whilst considering the script Thomas had shown it to his colleague Denis Lill — who immediately expressed an interest in the role. Lill contacted Roberts as soon as he confirmed that Thomas had rejected the part.
After appearing in Corn Dolly the character of Charles Vaughan returned in the second season of Survivors as one of the leading members of the retooled cast, becoming the series' star in the third.
If Gareth Thomas had felt more positive about the potential of Charles Vaughan's role, then the cast of Survivors might have evolved along different lines. Had Thomas impressed Survivors producer Terry Dudley as much as Denis Lill was able to do, it's possible that he could have become one of the series leading actors in season two and three — almost certainly ruling him out of consideration for the part of Rog Blake in Blakes 7.
The counter-factual is an intriguing one. Had Thomas excelled in the role of Charles Vaughan (and been willing to commit to a third year on Survivors), it's conceivable that he could have returned to Monsal Dale to film a second TV drama around the same locations five years on from The Watercress Girl.
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