Survivors by Terry Nation (CD/download review).

The audio of the original novel ‘Survivors’ by Terry Nation is a revelation. The book does not follow the plot of the series mainly it seems due to creative difference .When Terry Nation left the show after the first series it took a different direction . This refers, of course, to the original and best series of ‘Survivors’ transmitted in 1975.


This is an opportunity then to look into the mind of Terry and see where he might have wanted the show to go. The audio offers a lot of background detail to the characters of Abby Grant, Jenny Richards and Greg Preston who form the main part of the narrative with others added in to get a broad spectrum of class warfare in the good old 70s. A shocking ending which might sum up Terry Nation’s attitude towards surviving is one of the main differences from the show. He is happier that the show was to kill off main characters to make the point that none of the so called Survivors are ‘safe’. The idea that any of them could simply cease to be part of the plot is always there as is the very real presence of death amongst them all the way through the book.

There is very little joy here, which is not to say that the book is not worth listening to. There are little victories and some things to be said about the triumph of human spirit. Written at the height of the Cold War, this reflects partly the nihilism that all human endeavour will come to nothing and also that a little human stupidity goes a long way. Recently, it was disclosed that an American laboratory had been sending live anthrax virus to other American laboratories. I rest my case.

This is read by or rather, performed by, the original and best Survivor, Carolyn Seymour, who played Abby Grant or the posh bird as she was often known. This is a real blast from the past but not unwelcome and certainly reminded me why the 1970s was a vibrant and exciting time for genre TV and for being a teenager before geekdom had been invented.

With the release of two series of Big Finish’s own version of ‘Survivors’, this forms a neat reminder of where the series came from; its own historical and class context. Nation being the inventor of the other big killer of the human race-the Daleks might make this doubly interesting!

Sue Davies

June 2015

(pub: Big Finish. 6 CDs 360 minute story. Price: CD: £25.00 (UK), Download: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-451-8)

read by Carolyn Seymour

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