Remembering Peter Bowles in Survivors

Carolyn Seymour as Abby Grant, with Peter Bowles playing David Grant in the first episode (The Fourth Horseman) of Survivors in 1975

Sad to hear of the passing of the great actor Peter Bowles. Of course he was most well known for his work on British television, especially when playing opposite Penelope Keith, in To the Manor Born in the late 1970s. From a quick look at the obituaries, and related comments, few people seem to recall that he was in the first episode of Survivors, even if it was something of a cameo, as an immaculately dressed financier based in London, but living in a country house. Bowles played the husband of the lead character Abby Grant, and only appears in a few scenes, including as a corpse lying on the couch in their lounge room. Abby has just recovered from the plague, and is wandering around the house looking rather bewildered. The scene is set up very effectively, as the viewer can see that David Grant is dead, while Abby is trying to pour herself a drink, before looking up into mirror and seeing his body.

The scene for which the photograph was taken is a very long one, as the couple have finally made it home after David’s escape from London. Having made the drinks, David is trying to find a news programme on the radio, with no luck (and no sign of a TV set in their house). Abby has had to make a quick supper for David because her housekeeper has fled back to London. Carolyn Seymour is actually frying the bacon and eggs on the set, which highlights how leisurely the scene is, an insight into their conventional marriage. David reassures his wife that they can see out the impending crisis in the country with all their supplies, just before the power goes off. While Abby has been trying to get the local GP to come around with a flu vaccine, because it would be better than nothing, David is unconvinced that it is a flu epidemic, or that the vaccine will do any good. It appears that Abby is likely to die, as David’s final scene is when he drives off in his Jensen Interceptor car to find the doctor, who goes on to predict that millions could die from the unknown virus. But Abby survives and makes a funeral pyre out of their home, after she finds David has died. Then she heads off in a Volvo stationwagon to find their son.

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