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Classic TV Revisited: Survivors




Terry Nation terrified a nation in this worrying post-apocalyptic serial set in de-populated Britain. Running on BBC One from 1975-1977 Survivors starred Carolyn Seymour, Ian McCulloch, Denis Lill and Lucy Fleming.

Why is the series so great?
Series creator Terry Nation wanted us to realise that without the trappings of modern life we’re all no more capable of looking after ourselves than Stone Age Man.

How did it begin?
In episode one (broadcast on April 16, 1975) the opening credits showed a Chinese scientist spilling a flask full of a deadly virus. He died immediately and the plague spread across the world via aircraft.

What next?
We meet pampered housewife Abby Grant who thinks it’s a flu bug.

Why did Nation choose a female leading character?
It was unusual for the time but he wanted to show how the life of a conventional woman could be turned upside down and how she would cope. Abby wants to find out if her son Peter is still alive.

It’s an interesting premise for a TV serial but wasn’t it just a tad… Depressing?
Yes, in a way. Terry Nation believed that after a pandemic the dead would outnumber the living and our cities would become cess pits.
Food would perish as electricity stopped working. TV and radio would cease to function and anarchy would set in very quickly.

What happened?
The survivors realise they can only live if they form a community, produce their own food and forage for supplies. Petrol is like gold and starvation sets in.

I mean what happened to Abby?
By the end of series one she has grown tired of the disunity and slips away from the community to resume her search for her missing son.

Then what?
The series continued for another two seasons with Charles Vaughan (Denis Lill) and Greg Preston (Ian McCulloch) taking over as lead characters.

Don’t say:
Take an aspirin and wrap up warm, you’ll be fine. Or, What nonsense. What will they think of next? Anthrax, I shouldn’t wonder.

Do say:
We’re little better than hunter gatherers. Or, Got 50p for the meter? Or, I’ve never run my car on two-star horse manure. Or, Turnip wine anyone?

Finest moment:
The opening credits.