The late, great television writer Terry Nation created two of the BBC’s most loved science fiction television shows, Survivors and Blake’s 7, as well as being the mastermind behind Doctor Who’s most loved villain, the Daleks.
His series, Survivors, premiered on UK television in 1975, centring on Abby Grant (Carolyn Seymour) and her ongoing search for her son in a post-apocalyptic word where a virus had killed most of the population. As she travelled the landscape of a world-gone-mad, she came across friends and foe as people struggled to survive and rebuild what had been lost.
In 2014, Big Finish revived the series as a sensational new full-cast audio drama series, beginning with the outbreak before moving in its own direction with fresh new stories. Each series comprises a stand-alone boxed set of four stories, with the ongoing situation and background search for Abby’s son remaining the main connecting factor. In short, the series could be picked up from any of the releases.
Big Finish’s Survivors has been short-listed for both the 2015 and 2016 BBC Audio Drama Awards and now releases its fifth volume with Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant), Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston) and Lucy Fleming (Jenny) all reprising their original television series roles again.
Lead writer, Andrew Smith, bookmarks the release with the first and last tale, having written for the original television series, and he’s joined by writers Christopher Hatherall and Simon Clark for the other two stories.
Series five brings the characters full circle with a second outbreak of the virus, mutated so that it now starts killing many of those who survived the first epidemic. Just as communities have been formed and people have begun learning to live off the land without technology, their hopes are ripped apart and fear begins spreading again.
Under director Ken Bentley’s deft hand, Survivors Series 5 is a gripping release, with the four connected stories throwing the heroes back into a world of dark desperation. He has four excellent scripts to work from, and does so successfully, particularly with Benji Clifford’s superb sound design, which adds to the tension and gives the release a true feel of seventies nostalgia. The cinematic music score by the ever-talented Nicholas Briggs adds to the drama without ever interfering with the story.
Each disc includes cast or crew interviews at the end of the episode, instead of featuring the usual ‘extra features’ disc in the boxed set.
The revival of Survivors has been a success story for Big Finish that has continued to maintain its quality across five seasons, with another two volumes expected to be released in 2017. The writing is not limited to just fans of the original television series nor its 2008 television revival. As always, it’s best to start at the beginning with the first volume, however it’s not necessary in order to enjoy these releases.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9
Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: November 2016
RRP: $42.82 CD or $20 Digital Download