Fans of this series likely won’t require this review. You’ve pre-ordered Survivors series 07 from Big Finish ages ago, or are just waiting for pay-day. You know how good this series is regular listener, but please stay to hear a new fans review.

This is a spoiler free review. As an absolute beginner to this series I will review less formally and will focus this towards those who haven’t already joined the Survivors team.

Survivors has a history, not as massive as Doctor Who history, but there’s, of course, the book by Terry Nation(Big Finish have the audio book, read by the wonderful Carolyn Seymour, on sale as their Listeners title this month for only 2.99), there’s the classic TV series and now there are the audio plays from Big Finish. Just because there’s a lot to digest doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start chewing.

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…

 

Journeys End

Roland Moore writes the opening story, and what a perfect way to welcome new listeners. It’s a small cast with characters easy to identify with. The Plot is simple, uncomplicated but powerful. I’ve heard that this series can make you cry, I wasn’t expecting to tear up on my first encounter.

Carolyn Seymour gives such a crushing performance that you can’t help but put yourself in her place. This is a well crafted story and beautifully told. You can feel the atmosphere and taste the dirt. Gorgeously produced and performed.

Legacy

The Second Story, written by Simon Clark, was a big change. It’s a different set of characters we follow and learn about and this is a full cast story that requires more knowledge of past events and had me focusing a bit harder to keep up.

After listening to ‘Journeys End’ it seemed that the replay value was limited for this range. I was emotionally toyed with and felt vulnerable, and couldn’t imagine listening to that again for fun, but ‘Legacy’ is altogether a different type of story. I can imagine how this would be a very good, and exciting, story for long time fans but not knowing all of the back story I was left a little confused and underwhelmed. That is until you get to the end and you’re given a beautiful conclusion that made it all worth while.

Old Friends

‘Old Friends’ gives us another round of characters to learn about and follow. This is closer to ‘Journeys End’ as it’s a personal story that has less to do with plot and more to do with emotion. Writer Matt Fitton does a beautiful job of filling us in on past events while moving the story forward, though all the writing in the world couldn’t give the performances that we get here.

When you combine storytelling, production and performances of this calibre together you’re in a territory so engaging that you feel like you are part of the story. ‘Old Friends’ managed to scare me off from listening to the back catalogue simply by discussing past events. It made me grateful I didn’t have to listen to, or live through at least one other story. Even though they’re only talking about something that’s happened, it’s chilling. That’s how good the writing, performances and production are.

This is a top-tier level story that deserves accolades and praise for everyone involved. It also manages being a good entry point for new listeners while progressing the story forward.

Reconnection

The concluding story is written by Christopher Hatherall and manages to be exciting, emotional and engaging . It has a small cast of 5 and by this point even new fans should be rather comfortable and have an idea of what to expect.

‘Reconnection’, does a good job at taking a small matter and making it bigger. But what’s most impressive is how natural it all feels. For example, the climax doesn’t feel like a Hollywood blockbuster, or even a Doctor Who Big Finish adventure. It’s plausible that a situation like this would occur as executed here. Quickly and, though dramatic, not superfluous. Each story focuses on the human and no character is inhuman. There are characters we don’t like, or agree with but each character is given at least a small measure of humanity and that carries far in a story/series, like this.

Crew

Benji Clifford and Steve Foxon are two of the best sound designers out there. Having both of them work on this set of stories means we are guaranteed a level of excellence. Everything feels real. That sounds like it should be easy but creating a natural post apocalyptic soundscape, without over indulging, and creating dramatic tension, must be a challenge.

Thankfully Nicholas Briggs gives us release with his music. It’s not comforting music, but to suffer though this reality without any dramatic release, such as music would be unbearable. He creates unsettling and odd pieces that could almost be a mix between something from a Paul Thomas Anderson movie crossed with David Lynch. It’s not your typical mood and atmosphere music and that’s somehow comforting.

Ken Bentley directs and he just pulls the best from everyone he works with. Actors must trust him immensely in order to give the kinds of performances they do. A lot of this series is restraint. The actors are playing characters keeping it together but in those moments when the veil slips they really deliver some heart stopping performances.

Overall

Survivors Series Seven from Big Finish
Survivors Series Seven from Big Finish

Survivors series 7 proves to be a great jumping on point for new listeners. The writers offer us enough history to keep us informed while still moving us forward. What struck me most about this set of stories is the positivity. When TV and movies would have humanity fighting with each other for supremacy, and certainly that exists here, Survivors wants to remind us of hope and moving forward for the right reasons. It’s centred on people, and real people, who are struggling to remember that in a variety of ways.

If you had any inclination towards Survivors, take that leap. The replay value may not be high but everything else is. You’ll want to tag along and see these people through their journeys and reach their goals and the Big Finish team will give you the best possible experience your ears, heart and mind, can handle.

9/10

 

Synopsis

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.

7.1 Journey’s End by Roland Moore

Alone and resolute, a mother has spent the years since the Death searching for her son. She is closing in on her final lead. One last hope to find Peter.

But for Abby Grant, the worst possible thing might be to find what she is looking for…

7.2 Legacy by Simon Clark

Greg Preston is dead. But the work he did in forging his foundation, in bringing communities together, lives on.

When she and Ruth encounter those whose lives he touched, Jenny Richards is forced to remember how the man she loved abandoned her. But when she meets a common enemy, can she find the strength to make a stand?

7.3 Old Friends by Matt Fitton

Ruth Anderson and Evelyn Piper unite on a mission of mercy. An old friend is in trouble and in the path of dangerous forces.

Jackie Burchell could reveal secrets that change lives. But first, she must find her own way back. When things are at their worst, it’s old friends who keep you going.

7.4 Reconnection by Christopher Hatherall

As Jenny continues her plan to restore electricity across the country, she meets someone she never thought she’d see again – but it’s a very different Abby Grant to the one who left the Grange.

Not everyone is in favour of Jenny’s project, and the women find danger in a remote power station. It may be too late for them to reconnect…

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

Written By: Roland Moore, Simon Clark, Matt Fitton, Christopher Hatherall
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Cast

Carolyn Seymour (Abby Grant), Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston), Lucy Fleming (Jenny), Louise Jameson (Jackie Burchall), Helen Goldwyn (Ruth Anderson), Zoë Tapper (Evelyn Piper), Katherine Rose Morley (Sonia Meadows), Brian Protheroe (Abraham / Gruff), Ewan Bailey (Garth Warren / PA Announcer), Harry Myers (Neville Trent), Susie Emmett (Sylvia Jeffries), Graham Seed (Barstow/ Soldier), Justin Avoth (Clock-Winder / Blair), John Banks (Daniel Connor), Alistair Mackenzie (Nick), Jamie Laird (Ewan)

Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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