Letters from Don Shaw
The following letter, from Mad Dog scriptwriter Don Shaw to Lynne Sweetman is dated May 19 1997. Its contents are reproduced here with thanks to them both — and the Survivors Newsletter. A second letter is reproduced below.
Many thanks for your letter and apologies for being so long in replying. Thank you for your kind comments. I look back upon Survivors with fond memories, particularly of its producer, Terry Dudley, and actors like Morris Perry.
Morris was dragged through the ice and snow at the village of Ilam near Ashbourne in Derbyshire during the filming of Mad Dog. He was uncomplaining despite this going on for a couple of hours. He said philosophically: "It's all in the business of being an actor". My daughter Jane [who had a non-speaking part in the episode] went into the Royal Navy as a sailor, then left to be a photographer and this year is completing her degree in Advertising and Media Studies at Central St Martins College in London. Her memories are of waiting a long time before being called by the director Tristan de Vere Cole for her scene with Dennis Lill. She hated having her nose made up to look as though it has not been cleaned properly. She was pleased once to receive half a crown in royalties from the episode's sale to Hong Kong.
Survivors was a pleasure for me because I had total freedom to write about life and values in a way which is difficult today. The programme dealt with serious issues and for me this was a bonus. I can't think of much else to add! We did have to shoot out at Ross on Wye to be away from passing aircraft. There would have been none with most of the planet wiped out!
Thank you for your interest in the series. It's comforting to know that the series had such an impact. Good luck to [Survivors' fanzine] Whitecross Calling!
The following letter, from Mad Dog scriptwriter Don Shaw to Lynne Sweetman is dated February 1 1998. Its contents are reproduced here with many thanks to them both — and the Survivors Newsletter.
Thank you for your letter. I wish you all the very best in your expedition up here. As I remember Mad Dog was shot in very cold weather. Morris Perry, the actor who played the rabid man, was dragged by horse through snow a number of times before the director was happy with it.* Poor old Morris had to be thawed out! But he didn't complain. As he said: "I am an actor and I have to do what the role requires."
I last saw him at Stratford, at the RSC, playing in [the] Merchant of Venice three years ago. My daughter Jane, I believe, was in this episode playing a dirty nosed little girl who stumbled across Dennis Lill inside a barn as he was fleeing from his hunters. My daughter is now a production runner on the filming of The Brokers Man starring Kevin Whately.
I can't remember Ian McCulloch ever being specially designated for Dennis' part. It may have been the case, I can't remember. I do remember telling the producer Terry Dudley that Dennis was a very good actor and should be incorporated into Survivors. So, in this instance, Ian may be correct. Remember, however, that writers had no casting powers as such. That was the preserve of the producer and director.
Meanwhile, may I send my best wishes for your trip into my county. I only remember two locations for Mad Dog — the viaduct over Monsal Dale to the NW of Bakewell, and a spot near Ilam village near Ashbourne (the latter was where Morris Perry was dragged by a horse and where he went mad). The former opened the episode I think with a high shot of a horseman far below to the right approaching the viaduct.
Best wishes to you all!
* In fact, Morris Perry (Fenton) is bound and dragged through the snow, outside the 'half-way house', not by a horse but by fellow actor Dennis Lill (Charles).
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