Sunday, 20 September 2015

Survivors Series One

I have a confession: I have never seen the original 1970′s series of Survivors. I watched the remake a few years ago, it was okay, but apparently not a patch on the original. And then it was axed, and apart from vague memories of Julie Graham looking stunning and pointing out to Mrs W that Patterson Joseph was DEFINITELY GOING TO BE THE NEXT DOCTOR, I forgot all about it. Until last month.
Full forward to June 2014 and Big Finish release their first series of their audio adaptation of Survivors. Twitter was full of praise.  I had no expectations.  It had some Doctor Who people in it, Terry Molloy, Louise Jameson, Sinead Keenan, and also Lucy Fleming and Ian McCulloch reprising their roles as Jenny and Greg from the original series. All very nice, but not exactly setting my world alight. Until I start to listen.
Never before have I been so completely drawn into a world, completely captivated.  It’s the realism I think. This is our world, (albeit a 1970′s one), and we really are only one step away from chaos, barbarism, and madness.
The world we enter is suffering from a global pandemic, a flu like virus has taken hold.  People are literally dropping like flies, as more and more become sick.  The authorities struggle to maintain order, and then, when people start dying by the million, there are no authorities left any more. The story is told in the beginning through the eyes of different groups of people – Maddie Price (Chase Masterson) the American attorney desperately trying to get a flight home to her fiancé, John Redgrave (Terry Molloy) the man from the ministry, sent to Heathrow to maintain a facade of the authorities “doing something”, Daniel Connor (John Banks) a journalist trying to come to terms with the new world he finds himself in, Jackie Burchall (Louise Jameson) a wife and mum, lost in the new world order, James Gillison (Adrian Lukis) University lecturer turned tyrant or saviour.
The world building is exceptional, it is our world turned upside down where 95% of the population have died. Fear, hunger, barbarism and hope vie for top spot in the Survivors lives and as the plot progresses, this new extreme world takes it’s toll on our heroes. The characters act like real people with hopes dreams and ambitions, but also fear, paranoia and despair – a real melting pot of ideas. Some despair, some find opportunity to make a new life for themselves some descend into paranoia and madness – Adrian Lukis as Gillison gives an incredible portrayal of this descent, he starts off with good intentions but gets more paranoid and extreme as the story goes on.
The acting really is top notch, the actors really do convey desperation of a situation none of them know how to cope with, but I must make a particular mention of Terry Molloy. Like many Who fans, I mainly know Terry for playing Davros, but in his role as John Redgrave, Molloy gives the performance of a lifetime.  A grey-suited man from the ministry sent to reassure everyone that “everything will be fine” slowly coming to the realisation that it won’t.  No superiors for instruction, no establishment, no authorities, a real journey of character, an incredibly understated and moving performance.
So is it recommended? Put it this way, I ordered the original 1970′s series on DVD after hearing episode one of this version. It is by far and away the most realistic, hard hitting and thought provoking work Big Finish have produced and I cannot commend it highly enough. It is grim, it is shocking, and it isn’t easy listening, but it is a masterpiece.
An unreservedly and deservedly given 10/10 and I can’t wait for Series Two.