The latest instalment of Survivors from Big Finish is now available. Series 8 of Survivors stars Carolyn Seymour, Lucy Fleming and Helen Goldwyn, continuing the stories based upon Terry Nation’s original television programme. This marks the eighth series of the range.

When most of the world’s population is wiped out, a handful of survivors are left to pick up the pieces. Cities become graveyards. Technology becomes largely obsolete. Mankind must start again.

Survivors was created by Dalek inventor Terry Nation for the BBC during the 1970’s. On television it ran for three series and in 2008 had another BBC reboot for a further two series. Now through Big Finish the story of the Survivors continues through full cast box sets.

Review by Alex Jones (Spoilers ahead!)

Big Finish’s revival of Terry Nation’s cult classic series Survivors returns for an eighth outing. Taking the story in an all-new direction, what’s left of humanity tries to pick up the pieces following the global pandemic known only as The Death.

Series Eight marks a big moment for Survivors as it truly moves past the events of the television series. Developing into its own original continuation, it also seeks to resolve some of the original’s lingering plot threads. Series Eight is particularly notable as it finally reunites Abby with her son Peter, a search that spanned the entirety of the series and thus something fans will have been waiting over four decades for!

Bandit Train by Christopher Hatherall.

Given that the set itself is made up of four separate stories that come together to paint a bigger picture, it’s almost fitting that the first story is in itself a tale of two parts. ‘Bandit Train‘ kicks off with exactly what the title suggests before settling down into a more conversationally-driven story that helps map out the status quo for the rest of the set. The concept of a single train being coveted in a largely powerless world is one that’s always worked particularly well in post-apocalyptic fiction and it’s no exception here. With the prominence of railway lines in Britain it manages to feel even more fitting. Successfully highlighting the two tones Survivors is able to fluctuate between so effortlessly, ‘Bandit Train‘ is a very strong start.

Robert by Jane Slavin.

Series Eight then takes something of a detour. Returning back to the outbreak of The Death, we learn the story behind the mysterious and potentially dangerous Robert Malcolm. While Big Finish could have easily just depicted him as an outright villain, going back to glimpse how he became the way he is, adds an extra dimension to the character. It also highlights how such an apocalyptic event and his life prior to The Death can affect someone. Though the focus is squarely on Hywel Morgan‘s performance as Robert Malcolm, the supporting cast also do an excellent job, proving themselves particularly memorable even though they naturally don’t go on to appear in the following stories. Though it feels somewhat detached from the rest of the set, it provides crucial context to its newest (and perhaps most complex) character – making its placement essential in the grand scheme of things.

The Lost Boys by Lisa McMullin.

The big moment finally arrives in ‘The Lost Boys‘, as we finally see what’s happened to Peter Grant in all those years he’s spent apart from his mother. This story exposes the horror of what Robert has been up to all along, raising a ruthless child army with him right at the forefront. Joel James Davison gives the standout performance of this story, playing up the indoctrinated coldness of Peter Grant brilliantly against the comparative innocence of George Watkins‘ portrayal of Craig. What’s perhaps the most chilling about this story though isn’t the violence (which itself explains why the Survivors series carries an age warning), but the fact that in spite of it all you can still seem some semblance of compassion in Robert’s actions. Survivors paints a very tough world, and it’s only in being tough that the characters have any chance of surviving.

Village of Dust by Roland Moore.

It all comes to a climax in this final story, which operates on a much bigger scale to what preceded it in preparation for the next series. It runs heavy on the emotion as Abby finally gets the reunion with Peter she’d been in search of. Saying that things don’t go according to plan would be an understatement. Meanwhile Jenny’s growing Federation faces a first proper threat as Robert makes his move, in a tale that throws spies and espionage into the growing threat of all-out war. There’s a sense that past story threads are beginning to come together here but that shouldn’t be something to deter new listeners, as everything is still very easy to follow and the story doesn’t lose any of its impact if the listener is without that prior knowledge.

Final Thoughts

Even though this set is moving Survivors into uncharted territory, it maintains both a consistent tone and exciting pace, with revelations and resolutions that should satisfy both those who grew up with the original series and newcomers who have jumped on with Big Finish’s continuation. Abby’s reunion with Peter does not disappoint, and Robert Malcolm is an excellent addition to the band of memorable characters. With the next release set to be the last in this particular story arc, Survivors is building up to something big and is not to be missed!

Survivors: Series 8 is available now from the Big Finish website.

Survivors: Series 8 (c) Big Finish

Synopsis

This title was released in December 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until January 31st 2019, and on general sale after this date.

Four new battles for survival, from the world of Terry Nation‘s cult-classic series.

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…

8.1 Bandit Train by Christopher Hatherall.

Society is slowly rebuilding. Abby and Jenny are transporting supplies between  settlements. Craig is learning how to run the steam engines on lines cleared by Greg Preston.

But there are still those who just want to take. And their train is about to come under attack…

8.2 Robert by Jane Slavin.

Once, Robert Malcolm had a complicated life. His wife in an institution, his girlfriend running a struggling business, he was out of the army and without a place in the world.

When the Death came, it meant many things to many people. For Robert, it meant freedom.

8.3 The Lost Boys by Lisa McMullin.

Peter Grant is alive. He is with Robert Malcolm’s army of boy soldiers, learning to survive. Building a better future.

But medic Ruth has her suspicions when she visits the camp. And Craig is about to find out what it takes to become a recruit.

8.4 Village of Dust by Roland Moore.

Abby, still desperate for the reunion she’s been seeking for years, now knows that Peter is part of an army.

Meanwhile, Jenny realises that someone is drawing plans against her budding Federation. A war is coming, and mother and son are on different sides.

NOTE: Survivors contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.

Written By: Christopher Hatherall, Jane Slavin, Lisa McMullin and Roland Moore.
Directed By: Ken Bentley.

Cast

Carolyn Seymour (Abby), Lucy Fleming (Jenny Richards), Helen Goldwyn (Ruth), George Watkins (Craig), Wendy Craig (Elsie / Celia / Dr Portman), Joel James Davison (Peter Grant), Hywel Morgan (Robert Malcolm), Gyuri Sarossy (Derek Gibb), Richard Popple (Kilby), Homer Todiwala (Scotty / Soldier), Susie Emmett (Twig), Jane Slavin (Julia / Mrs Brock), Vikash Bhai (Jesus), Isla Carter (Cayla Kenny), Eddie Eyre (Seth Pilkington), Katherine Rose Morley (Sonia Meadows), Susan Hingley (Jiao Li). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producers: David Richardson and Emma Haigh.
Script Editor: Matt Fitton.
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.

Survivors: Series 8 is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced at £25 on CD and £20 to Download. The Big Finish App, available on Apple and Android devices, also makes listening even easier. It is a free app to download, just search in your app store.

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