The sixth series of Survivors sees the fight for existence take on a more personal note.
Following a global pandemic known as ‘The Death’, barely anything of the human race remains. But those who do must band together if they want to rebuild society. After all, they’re the survivors.
Terry Nation (yes, that Terry Nation) created this post-apocalyptic drama series with the BBC back in 1975. It ran for three seasons and starred the likes of Carolyn Seymour, Lucy Fleming and Ian McCulloch. The three leads all reprised their roles when Big Finish Productions launched its audio adaptation back in 2014. Now in its sixth audio series, Big Finish have taken a new approach for ‘Survivors’. Instead of an epic four-part story across the whole release, each episode is a self-contained drama.
Beating the Bounds by Ian Potter
Still searching for her son, Abby Grant comes across a village that has isolated itself from The Death. But her arrival puts that in jeopardy and soon the risk of infection pits neighbour against neighbour. The village is a very well developed community of characters under a tin-pot dictatorship. Sheila Reid (Clara’s gran to Doctor Who fans) performs the Countess with a quiet dignity befitting a figurehead oligarch. Meanwhile, Andrew Wincott shines as the weary but tough Mangham. The resolution is a quick but it leaves a big impact. Abby means well and does everything to help, even when quick and easy solutions are put in front of her. So the effect she has on the village is all the more tragic. Ian Potter’s debut ‘Survivors’ story is a strong start for this smaller, more intimate set of stories.
The Trapping Pit by Christopher Hatherall
When an attempted robbery goes awry, Jenny and Ruth have to save the man who tried to mug them. This is the very definition of a bottle episode as the main cast spend the run-time in a pit. The reduced cast keeps the story focused even if the pace is occasionally hard to maintain. As with the previous story, this episode shows us more of this world and the different ways people have tried to survive the outbreak. Helen Goldwyn shines as Ruth, getting across her lack of confidence with serious skill. Meanwhile, Benji Clifford’s sound design makes light work of the louder and more frantic scenes. Several moments of this release involve a lot of pained screams and panicked voices. In lesser hands, this could have turned into a cacophony of noise, but it’s handled very well indeed.
Revenge of Heaven by Simon Clark
A cure for The Death has been found! The problem? The one woman who has a sample of the cure and the know-how to administer it is missing. It’s up to Greg Preston, still bound for Norway in a balloon, to mount a rescue mission and restore hope. Ian McCulloch reprises his TV role as Greg in this action-packed outing. Tracy Wiles enters the series as the charming Professor Valentina Raskova. In the bonus interviews between episodes, Wiles explains her process for nailing the accent. Which came as a surprise for me since I was convinced the actress was Russian. Once again, a deft hand has been used in the sound editing to conduct scenes with a lot of sound effects, dialogue and music. Story-wise, it’s perhaps a little too fast paced and it’s easy to miss crucial details as they go by. But this enhances the action scenes so it works well. Clark has tinged the story with the idea of hope as a survival mechanism, which adds an emotional core to this swashbuckling adventure.
Lockup by Andrew Smith
Abby comes across a sanctuary known as ‘Peacetown’. Sounds pleasant? Prepare to be surprised. The final release of the story reunites Abby and Greg, so its placement in the box set was crucial. For newcomers, we’ve already both characters and have had a chance to understand them. Bringing them together without first establishing them separately would have been fine for regular listeners. It would even have worked if the writing had been geared towards keeping them together and talking. But here it’s perfectly arranged to bring the two stories we heard earlier together without any confusion. The story is similar to ‘Beating the Bounds’ in setup but very different in execution. Whereas the first story explored the inevitability of an oppressive aristocracy, the last looks at what happens when an opportunist seizes power. It’s a engaging, though often very dark, tale that was a great note to end on.
As you may have guessed from this review, Benji Clifford’s work on the sound design deserves a great deal of praise. With stories ranging from high adventure to bottle episodes, Clifford and director Ken Bentley have given the release a consistent feel while adhering to the needs of the script. The move to mostly standalone stories seems to work well and will be a great entry point if you’re new to the series.
Blogtor Rating – 10/10
This title was released in June 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.
The world has ended. ‘The Death’ pandemic crossed continents, sparing only a fraction of the global population.
The survivors are now trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild society – to create a new future.
But with no cities, no laws, no technology, everyone must start over. And the worst of human nature has survived along with the best…
Four new battles for survival, from the world of Terry Nation’s cult-classic series.
6.1 Beating the Bounds by Ian Potter
Abby Grant’s search for her son has taken her all across Britain and back. Following every possible lead, she finds herself on long-abandoned roads to forgotten villages.
But now, two years after the first Death, such communities still wish to protect themselves. And they do not take kindly to strangers.
6.2 The Trapping Pit by Christopher Hatherall
On a routine trading mission from Whitecross to Evelyn Piper’s Foundation, Jenny Richards and community doctor Ruth Anderson are ambushed by desperate scavengers.
When the tables turn, an escape attempt becomes a struggle for survival. With a young man’s life hanging in the balance, Ruth’s skills are put to the ultimate test.
6.3 Revenge of Heaven by Simon Clark
Greg Preston has forged links with survivors in Norway to start rebuilding society. He’s ready to return home to his family… until an unexpected visitor drags him into a race across the Scandinavian snows.
Hope for the future lies with a kidnapped scientist, and some will go to any lengths to control that hope.
6.4 Lockup by Andrew Smith
As her journey continues, Abby encounters a secure and well-ordered community, based inside a prison complex, calling itself ‘Peacetown’.
But the settlement is not as idyllic as its name suggests, and the lockup harbours secrets. Among them, a prisoner. Someone Abby knows of old… A man called Greg Preston.
Written By: Christopher Hatherall, Simon Clark, Ian Potter, Andrew Smith
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant), Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston), Lucy Fleming (Jenny), Helen Goldwyn (Ruth), Zoë Tapper (Evelyn Piper), James Wilby (Brendon Glover / Duffin), Emily Joyce (Sasha Flint), Gunnar Cauthery (Alan Kelly/ Sam Fulcher), Leighton Pugh (Dan Lacey / Ulryk), Julie Graham (Katherine Tanner), Tracy Wiles (Professor Valentina Raskova), Alex Blake (Pierre/ Hague), Ellie Burrow (Postwoman / Gail Fulcher), Andrew Wincott (Sick Man/ Mangham), George Watkins (Craig), Hannah Genesius (Spike), Christopher Hatherall (Titch), Sheila Reid (The Countess).
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs