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Bill Masen 003
Bill Masen
Continuity: The Day of the Triffids
Notability: Main character
Type: Scientist; Farmer
Gender: Male
Race: Human
Location: England
Known relatives: Josella Payton (wife); Susan (adoptive daughter); Unnamed father
Status: Alive
Born: Early 1950s [1]
First: Day of the Triffids: 1.1
Actor: Howard Keel
John Duttine
Steven Jonas
Dougray Scott

Bill Masen was the central character from John Wyndham's 1951 novel, The Day of the Triffids. The character was first seen on-screen in the 1962 The Day of the Triffids feature film where he was played by actor Howard Keel. The character was re-imagined for the BBC produced 1981 mini-series The Day of the Triffids. Played by John Duttine, he appeared in all six episodes of the series. Steven Jonas played young Bill Masen in the pilot episode. This version of Masen was more true to Wyndham's original character than the one seen in the film. In the 2009 two-part The Day of the Triffids mini-series, the role of Bill Masen was played by Dougray Scott.

Biography Edit

Day of the Triffids - Episode 1 001

Bill at the hospital.

From an early age, Bill Masen's life was destined to intertwine with the dangerous carnivorous plants known as Triffids. As a young boy, his father and he discovered one of the large Triffids growing in their back yard. A short time later, young Bill saw a science film detailing the culture of a Triffid colony found in Ecuador. Frightened by what he had seen, he raced home and began digging his Triffid out from the roots. The plant defended itself by lashing at the boy with its stalking, injecting a poison into his system. Fortunately for Bill, this particular Triffid was too young for its poison to be fully effective and the doctors were able to save his life.

As an adult, Bill found himself working at a Triffid farm with his mentor, Walter. Walter had his own wild theories about the nature of Triffids and even suspected that they were partially sentient. One of the Triffids attacked Bill, stinging him in the face, blinding him. Walter was able to administer and antidote, which saved his life, but was still temporarily blind.

He was taken to a hospital and treated for ten days. On the evening of the ninth day, a comet appeared in the skies above England inexplicably causing everyone who witnessed the spectacle to suddenly go blind. As Bill was already blindfolded due to his injuries, he was unaffected by the phenomenon. In fact, once he removed his bandages, he discovered that he was one of the few people who still possessed perfect vision. [2]

Bill began walking about the hospital and was shocked to find patients and staff members stumbling about blind. He encountered his physician Doctor Soames in a stairwell and tried to offer assistance, but Soames couldn't cope with being blind and jumped from the balcony of the hospital to his death.

Bill then began to wander the streets of London. He came down an alley where he witnessed a teenage girl pulling up to her flat. He was surprised to note that she could apparently see as well. Following the girl inside, he found her father, John, sitting in the living room. John and his wife Shirley were both blind. Their daughter Tina was taking care of them. John begged Bill to stay with them and to help them adjust. Bill pledged to help, but said that he first had to scout the neighborhood to see if anyone else had managed to keep their eyesight.

He continued wandering the back streets of the city and took note of how panic and hysteria had already gripped the masses. People were looting and carrying on in the streets. A gang of drunken hooligans accosted a young blind girl with the intent of violating her. Bill intervened and the girl managed to run off. His bravery was rewarded by a sharp blow to the stomach. After Bill collapsed to the ground, the gang members ran off.

Jo Payton 001

Josella Payton

He took a few moments to get his wits together and inspected another empty flat. He found a bearded blind man attacking a young woman named Jo Payton. He had her tied to him with a length of chord and was beating her across the back. Bill fought with the man and managed to knock him unconscious. He cut Jo free and walked her across the street to a nearby pub. He was pleased to discover that like him, Jo Payton could see as well.

At the pub, the two shared a drink and collected their thoughts. Jo explained the circumstances that led to her being attacked by the bearded man. Afterward, they refueled Jo's car and drove back to her home at 3 Heath Side. As they approached the front door, they found her maid Anna lying dead on the step with severe lacerations across her face. Bill had seen these kinds of wounds before. Turning around, he saw a Triffid shambling across the yard readying to strike. The man-eating plant lashed out and struck Bill with its stinger. Bill fought back, picking up a pitchfork and stabbing the Triffid repeatedly until it was dead. He then examined his own wound and found that he was not in any pain. He surmised that the Triffid must have exhausted all of his venom.

The two went into the house and find Jo's father dead on the floor - apparently another victim of the Triffid. As they went back outside, they head the familiar "clacking" sounds of a second Triffid approaching them. They piled into Jo's car and drove back into the city. [3]

The two were attacked by a throng of blind civilians desperate to find someone to help them. Unable to help, they fled from the mob and took shelter inside an abandoned high-rise apartment. This enabled Bill and Jo a chance to get to know one another a bit better. Despite the chaos gripping the streets of London, Bill's primary concern was the Triffids - whose numbers appeared to be increasing in the outlying areas. He began stocking up on anti-Triffid gear and weaponry.

Bill and Jo took note of a beacon shining from the top of the University of London across town. The following day, they drove down there and found a community of sighted survivors taking up shelter in one of the auditoriums. The leader of this de facto settlement was a middle-aged man named Michael Beadley. Beadley and his group were setting up a convoy to take them out of the city and into the countryside where they hoped to rebuild a new society. Bill and Jo volunteered to help them out and together they managed to produce two lorries as well as an ample supply of anti-Triffid weaponry. Beadley did not share Masen's sense of priority when it came to the threat of the Triffids, noting that there had been no reported Triffid sightings at all in London (which was actually inaccurate, but Beadley was working off limited information at the time). Bill retorted, noting that the central districts would not have strong Triffid populations. They require soil to take root in, such as one would find in the countryside - which happened to be exactly where Beadley's convoy intended on going.

Later that day, Bill and Jo attended an assembly where Beadley and his colleagues outlined the dynamics of their new society. The conventions and lifestyles that people had grown accustomed to were no longer logical in the new world dynamic. Bill and Jo considered their options and decided that remaining with Beadley's group would be in their best interests.

That evening, a reactionary group of survivors led by Jack Coker raided the university. They faked setting a fire and planted trip wires on the stairwells in order to capture persons of interest - namely, Bill Masen. [4]

When Bill came to he found himself in a prison cell in manacles. Jack Coker introduced himself and told Bill that he kidnapped him to force him to aid the blind citizens under his charge - whether he wanted to or not. He outlined Bill's work details and introduced him to the party he would be responsible for. Hancuffed to at least one armed, blind assistant at any one time, Bill was made to scout out shelters and look for food and medical supplies.

Day of the Triffids Episode 1.4

Bill leading the blind.

Bill's party found room at the Belsize Private Hotel bed and breakfast. The management of the hostel (also blind) didn't want to open up their doors, but they were offered little choice. Bill promised them a share of their rations in exchange for shelter. He then led his group on a scouting expedition, which brought them into conflict with a group of gun-wielding punks. Fearing that Bill's party might be intruding on his territory, the hoodlum opened fire on the group, killing two of their number. Bill convinced the man he was chained to to set him free so that he could help them escape. The man refused and Bill was forced to knock him unconscious. Freeing himself, he evaded the gunman's bullets and brought the rest of his group to safety.

On another expedition, he led them to a market to gather more supplies. A new threat arose, this time in the form of a Triffid. The triffid killed two members of the party, but Bill managed to hotwire a Mercedes and drove the others to safety.

Back at the hotel, he came to discover that many of the blind were now falling prey to a mysterious illness. Three people staying at the hotel had already died, with five more gravely ill. Everyone turned towards Bill for hope, but he had nothing to offer them - not even an explanation. One young woman, grateful for Bill's help, even offered herself to him for sex. Bill politely declined, but the young woman soon fell prey to the same illness that had been affecting everyone else. At her request, Bill provided her with something to ease her pain so that she could pass on in peace [5]

Bill soon took leave of the group and managed to make his way back to the University of London. He met up with Jack Coker who came to make peace with Bill. He apologized for kidnapping him, and explained how sometimes desperate action was required in order to get things done. The two reconciled with one another and agreed to work together. Bill noticed the words "Tynsham Manor" written on the chalkboard in the assembly room and determined that this was where Michael Beadley took the rest of his group. Acquiring two lorries, Bill and Jack drove to Tynsham Manor and found many people living inside the spacious estate. Beadley was not present, nor was Jo Payton. The leader of the community, Miss Durrant explained how her group held decidedly different views from that of Beadley's reactionary organization and, being a Christian, was not ready to abolish her Christian values purely for the sake of propagation. Knowing that Jo was still with Beadley's group, Bill took his leave of the estate. Coker decided to remain behind for he felt that despite Durrant's persistence at clinging to obsolete moral paradigms, he believed that belonging to a larger group was the most effective means of survival.

Day of the Triffids Episode 1.6

Bill and Susan destroy Triffids with flame throwers.

Bill recalled how Jo had once mentioned knowing a family who owned a farmhouse in Sussex. Believing this is where Jo was headed, he began driving towards South Downs. Along the way, he found a young girl named Susan. Susan stopped his car and begged him to help her brother Tommy. Tommy had been attacked and killed by a Triffid and there was little Bill could do for him. He helped Susan bury the body and came to discover that she was an orphan. He brought Susan (and her dog Rufus) along with him and eventually made his way to Sussex where he reunited with Jo.

Jo was living Dennis and Mary Brent at a large farmhouse and invited Bill to stay with them. The following day, he took one of the Brents' farm trucks and drove back to Tynsham to check on the people. He was shocked to find dozens of bodies littered across the floor - all of them dead. There was no sign of Jack Coker, and Bill had no idea if his friend was alive or dead. He drove back to the farmhouse and told Jo the news. [6]

Bill and Jo were soon married and had a son named David. They raised David alongside the Brents' own child, Alice, who was only slightly older. The Masens and the Brents continued to raise the orphan Susan as their own child. Bill's expertise with Triffids enabled him to fortify the property, building protective walls and gates to keep the Triffids at bay. However, the Triffids always managed to find a way to bypass his defenses and he often found himself developing new and innovative ways to combat them.

Gary Olsen

Commander Torrence

Bill and his family remained in Sussex in relative for peace for the next six years. One day, after returning home from a day at the beach, Bill and Jo were reunited with Jack Coker. Coker had obviously survived the plague that had claimed the lives of those at Tynsham Manor and had set himself up with a new colony on the Isle of Wight. Although Jack and his group managed to exterminate the Triffid population on the island, there was always the threat that Triffid seeds might soon spawn new, young Triffids. Aware of Bill's proficiency at fighting the creatures, he invited everyone at the farmhouse to come and stay with him. Bill gave the matter heavy consideration, but Jo wanted to spend at least one more summer on the farm before relocating.

The choice was soon taken out of their hands however. A military squad led by Commander Torrence arrived on the farm and informed the Masens and the Brents that they would be taking control of the property and using it as a shelter for blind civilians. His job was to identify viable sighted individuals and re-allocate them to selected parties where they would be responsible for the caretaking of ten blind civilians for every one sighted civilian. None of the residents relished this idea at all and despite how appealing Torrence attempted to make the situation sound, Bill knew that they could not live such a lifestyle. As a stalling tactic, Bill invited Torrence and his men to stay overnight. They provided them with food and spirits and Bill bided his time as the soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. The soldiers eventually passed out in the early morning hours and Bill took this opportunity to sneak his family out of the house. They piled into Dennis Brent's van and drove off towards the Isle of Wight where (presumably) they lived the rest of their days in harmony with Jack Coker's community. [7]

Notes & Trivia Edit

Appearances Edit

Episode Title Airdate
1x1 Part One September 10th, 1981
1x2 Part Two September 11th, 1981
1x3 Part Three September 12th, 1981
1x4 Part Four September 13th, 1981
1x5 Part Five September 14th, 1981
1x6 Part Six September 15th, 1981

See also Edit

External Links Edit

References Edit

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