Survivors – Gone to the Angels


Abby’s continuing search for Peter is a very useful plot device as it can make the main characters go to locations that otherwise they’d have no good reason to visit.  This is demonstrated in Jack Ronder’s script when Abby learns that a party of boys from Peter’s school may have gone to “visit the angels”.

Some months before the death, three men (who somehow knew that an imminent catastrophe was approaching) went off to the Derbyshire hills to live in religious seclusion.  Abby sets off to find them, whilst Greg and Jenny remain behind.

Greg and Jenny aren’t alone though, as they’ve essentially adopted two young children, John (Stephen Dudley) and Lizzie (Tanya Ronder).  The pair have been living by themselves ever since the death and jump at the chance to join Abby, Greg and Jenny.  Their initial appearance is a delight – they’re dressed in adult clothes which are far too big for them.  Both Dudley and Ronder have a natural precocious charm which is clear from their first scene.  Some might argue that casting the son of the producer and the daughter of the script-editor is rather nepotistic, but it works.

There’s another new face in the story, Lincoln (Peter Miles).  Nobody plays strange and unsettling characters as well as Miles (who’s made a long and successful career out of it) and Lincoln is another good example.  Initially, he seems a little jumpy but fairly normal, but it doesn’t take long before his instability is very apparent.  Greg and Jenny take the children and leave – he begs to come with them, but Greg is adamant that he’s not welcome, so Lincoln is left to whatever the fates decree for him.

Survivors is an often bleak series, though occasionally there are brief glimpses of hope.  But hope is in very short supply in Gone to the Angels.  Abby finds the three men on the mountainside, although she’s disappointed to learn she’s the first person to visit them since the death.  Jack (Frederick Hall), Robert (Kenneth Caswell) and Matthew (Nickolas Grace) may all be deeply religious but they’re also friendly and welcoming.

Later, the others make the trip as well.  They find an equally warm welcome (Matthew delights in playing with the children, for example).  But shortly afterwards when all three fall ill, Abby realises that she’s inadvertently infected them with the death.  As they were isolated on the hilltop it appears they never came into contact with the virus (which doesn’t really make a great deal of sense – the virus spread all over the world very quickly, surely it could make the trip up the hill as well?)

This slight plot quibble apart, it provides a chilling conclusion to the story as Abby shoulders her burden of guilt over their deaths.  Hall, Caswell and Grace are all excellent – especially Frederick Hall as Jack who retains his serenity even when he knows that he’s dying.

There’s little solace to be gained from this episode, except maybe at the end when Abby looks into the faces of John and Lizzie.  Even after all the deaths, do they (and other children) offer hope for a better future?

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