What is Survivors?

The original or 'classic' Survivors was an 38 episode drama series which aired on BBC1 between 1975 and 1977. The opening episodes were first broadcast on BBC1 in April 1975 and immediately grabbed the attention and interest of the viewing public. In essence, the series concerns the aftermath of a plague which had wiped out over 99% of the world's population and the experiences of a group of individuals in England as they grappled with the post-plague world and the trials of day-to-day survival. Since its original broadcast the series has gained a cult following, cemented by DVD releases and the publication of a highly regarded guidebook, The End of the World?, penned by Rich Cross and Andy Priestner.


Is Survivors available on DVD?

All three series are available on DVD. Originally released as series sets, the classic series is now available as a complete box-set.


SERIES 1 (1975) DVD BOXSET


The first series of Survivors was first released on a 4 disc Region 2 DVD (and on 3 double VHS without any special features) in the UK in October 2003 by DD Video.

DVD Special features include:

  • Interviews with Carolyn Seymour, Ian McCulloch, Lucy Fleming, Pennant Roberts and Tanya Ronder recorded in June 2003.

  • Audio commentaries:
    The Fourth Horseman (Seymour and Roberts) and Law and Order (Fleming and McCulloch).

  • A 36 page full colour behind-the-scenes booklet (written by Andy Priestner)

  • A gallery of Lucy Fleming's photos.

  • A gallery of BBC stills.

  • A section of mute film footage which was recovered in June 2003, taken during filming of the final series 1 episode - A Beginning.


SERIES 2 (1976) DVD BOXSET


The second series of Survivors was first released on a 4 disc Region 2 DVD in the UK in October 2004 by DD Video.

DVD Special features include:

  • Interviews with Denis Lill, Lorna Lewis, Heather Wright and Pennant Roberts recorded in June 2004.

  • Audio commentary:
    The Lights of London 2 (Lill and Roberts )

  • A 40 page full colour behind-the-scenes booklet (written by Andy Priestner)

  • A gallery of Lucy Fleming's photos.

  • A gallery of BBC stills.


SERIES 3 (1977) DVD BOXSET


The third series of Survivors was first released on 4 disc Region 2 DVD in the UK in November 2005 by DD Home Entertainment.

DVD Special features include:

  • New World Rising: a documentary about the making of Survivors Series 3, featuring interviews with Lucy Fleming, Peter Jefferies, Tristan de Vere Cole, Stephen Dudley and Rich Cross, recorded and edited in August/September 2005

  • Audio commentaries:
    Law of the Jungle (Fleming and Jefferies) and Mad Dog (De Vere Cole and Morris Perry)

  • A 44 page full colour behind-the-scenes booklet (written by Andy Priestner)

  • A gallery of Denis Lill's photos from Series 2 and 3.

  • A gallery of BBC stills.


 




Who were the Survivors?

Survivors regular cast changes dramatically throughout its episodes. Only Jenny Richards played by Lucy Fleming, makes it from the first episode to the last. Other key characters are Abby Grant played by Carolyn Seymour [1-13], Greg Preston - Ian McCulloch [2-36], Charles Vaughn - Denis Lill [4, 14-38], Pet Simpson - Lorna Lewis [14-36] and Hubert Goss - John Abineri [14-38]. For full details of these characters and many more, visit the Regular Characters page.

Below: Abby and Jenny [Gone Away] | Greg and Charles [Over the Hills].


Who made Survivors?


The series was created by Terry Nation, of Doctor Who and Blake's 7 fame. He also wrote half the episodes of the first series. Terence Dudley, who had previously worked on Doomwatch was the series producer. Jack Ronder wrote several episodes and was behind the new direction of series two. Martin Worth assumed control of the final series and wrote episodes for both series two and three. Other writers included Ian McCulloch [who also starred as Greg Preston] Don Shaw, M K Jeeves [Clive Exton], Roger Parkes and Roger Marshall.

Below: Jenny and Charles [Bridgehead] | Agnes, Charles and Melanie [New World].

 


Series Review  [Warning: spoilers ahead!]


Aftermath [Episodes 1- 6]

The first series focuses on the determined Abby Grant, a former housewife who is searching both for her son, Peter, and a new way of life. She is accompanied in her efforts by former secretary, Jenny Richards and engineer, Greg Preston. Together they witness various approaches to the catastrophe and first meet Charles Vaughn, a former self-sufficiency expert who returns in series two.

Classic episodes include: The Fourth Horseman [1], Genesis [2], Garland's War [6].

Below: Abby Grant [The Fourth Horseman] | Greg and Abby [Gone Away]


The First Community
[Episodes 7-13]

As the series progresses, Jenny and Greg become a couple, Abby abandons her quest and a community of like minded individuals is set up at a country grange. Whilst here they have to come to grips with agricultural methods, the perils of trading and even the presence of a murderer in their midst. As the first series draws to a close, the first attempts to federate the new communities are made and Abby learns that Peter is alive.

Classic episodes include: Law and Order [9], Revenge [11].


Below: Tom, Arthur, Paul and Vic [Law and Order] | Jenny, Abby and Greg [Something of Value].


Whitecross
[Episodes 14- 26]

As the second series begins we learn that Abby has left the community to look for Peter once more. Whilst Greg is away, meeting Charles again at a settlement called Whitecross, there is a fire at the grange which claims several victims. Greg, Jenny and the other survivors decide to begin a new start at Charles's settlement. Whilst here they continue to deal with the everyday problems of survival. Much of the drama arises from the arrival of new visitors to Whitecross, who are either misunderstood or prevent a threat to the harmony of the community. On one occasion one such visit leads to the kidnap of Ruth Anderson to London, where her medical skills are urgently needed
by the survivors there. At the end of the second series the arrival of a Norwegian girl called Agnes and her father's extensive notes on Britain's many communities, heralds the beginning of the end of the Whitecross set-up. Greg leaves the settlement and Jenny to help survivors in Norway, whilst Charles is once more fired up to attempt to federate the nation.


Classic episodes include:
Lights of London 1+2 [16-17], Parasites [23], Over the Hills [25].

Below: Penny, Ruth and Amul [Lights of London 1] | Pet and Greg [Over the Hills].


The Search for Greg
[Episodes 27- 32]

With news that Greg is back in England, Charles, Jenny and Hubert the shepherd, set off on his trail. They are always to be one or two steps behind Greg, as he travels the countryside gathering information, whilst they encounter various perilous individuals and dangerous situations. After several wild goose chases, a distraught Jenny calls a halt to the search and there is a reunion with the members of the Whitecross community who have relocated to Challoner.

Classic episodes include: A Little Learning [28], Mad Dog [30], Reunion [32].

Below: Edith, Charles, Agnes and Brod [Law of the Jungle] | Jenny and Charles [Bridgehead].


The Quest for Power
[Episodes 33- 38]

The final episodes see Charles, Jenny and Hubert on a quest to restore power to the country, enlisting electrician Alec Campbell and unwittingly, a saboteur along the way. Jenny is denied a reunion with Greg as he tragically succumbs to small pox. However, before he dies, Agnes meets Greg and collates the information he has gathered in preparation for a federated Britain and a new government. The late Greg is to act as a figurehead for the new nation. The final episode sees Charles, Jenny and Alec finally succeed in their attempts to restore electric power, as the country edges slowly towards civilisation once more...

Classic episodes include:
The Last Laugh [36], Long Live the King [37].

Below: Charles and Jenny with Frank Garner [The Enemy] | Agnes and Charles [Long Live The King].



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Page last updated: 12 November 2008   All text Andy Priestner   Screen Captures BBC