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4.6 out of 5 stars143
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 4 May 2004
I like the whole apocolyptic scenario as a basis for films, so this one appealed to me. It follows a group of people who are immune to a killer virus that has decimated the population, and their attempts to re-start civilisation on a small scale with a self-sufficient commune.
watching the first episode, you feel as if you have missed something, as the story starts after the virus has already started to wipe out the population and civilisation is already starting to crumble with the non-running trains, but for all that the opening titles explain things well enough.
You get the impression that by the end of the series the writers were getting short of ideas for a storyline as the pace gets a little slow, also I was expecting more of a plot development around the "new British government" group.
As a child of the 70's, I did enjoy seeing all the old cars used though...Jensen interceptor, various commer vans, Bedford TK truck..
It's good viewing, similar scenario to Steven King's "the stand" but without so much of the hocus-pocus good and evil stuff.
apologies for my writing style, but I am a Truck driver not somebody pretending to be a professional film critic as some of these reviewers seem to be.
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on 30 August 2014
"Survivors" isn't perfect by any means; the first series takes a few episodes to get into its stride, and the third is often dull and somehow unengaging, probably because things have got a bit easier for the characters. There are irritating ambiguities, with the fates of certain characters unclear (did I miss the bit where Ben the dog got rabies?). However, I'd certainly recommend it. Its main strength is that you like the regulars (even Tom Price) and want to see what happens to them in circumstances which are arduous and fraught with danger. The personality clash between Charles and Greg, one being perhaps too nice, though brave, and the other too hard at times, is interesting. This has a downside, because plenty of likeable characters die in ways that seem totally unfair; "Survivors" can be harrowing viewing. You have been warned! But some of the episodes are simply brilliant, and in particular "Law And Order" which has to be one of the best pieces of televised drama ever; the performances of Carolyn Seymour and Talfryn Thomas in particular are breathtaking. It's debatable whether or not "Survivors" should be categorised as science fiction or a political thriller; certainly the lack of bug-eyed monsters made it easier for the cast to believe in the series and so give creditable performances. It's also a fairly useful exploration of some of the issues which would arise in a situation where industrial society had collapsed and most of the population been wiped out. Though I speak as an enthusiast for such things, it's good to see steam trains and traditional wind- and watermills being brought in to help save the day - though I should point out that the governor of an old-style corn windmill adjusts the distance between the upper and lower of each pair of millstones and has nothing to do with the speed of the sails. There's plenty of other things I could mention. Aren't the two kids great? And I hope that Bedford petrol tanker made it into a transport museum, it's a nice piece of work and now counts more or less as a vintage.vehicle. Finally,with the social unrest of recent years and renewed concerns in the twenty-first century over disease and environmental pollution, "Survivors" is more topical today than it was when first made...
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on 22 July 2012
One of the finest serials produced by the BBC, this is an epic examination, spread over three series of consistent quality and engagement, of mankind's ability - or lack thereof - to cope with the sudden loss of modern civilisation. Born out of a concern at our increasing dependence upon technology at the expense of the ability to fend for ourselves, "Survivors" is a post-apocalypse drama that covers its' subject with a breadth and scope almost unrivalled within that crowded genre, as mankind is nearly swept clean by a catastrophic pandemic - "the Death" - and those (very few) that are spared are forced to contemplate the real struggle that lies ahead: the struggle to survive, when "the generation that landed a man on the Moon", stripped of its' comforts and technologies, is in fact less practical than its' forebears of the Stone Age. The premise is laid out in the peerless opening episode "The Fourth Horseman", a benchmark in how to introduce a series, so effective is it that some have commented it could stand on its' own as a one-off teleplay. The first series focuses on the chaos in the immediate aftermath of the plague, and the establishment of the first communities, and is uniformly regarded as the strongest of the three; Series Two changed tack and turned its' attention more to the day-to-day tribulations of holding together a post-plague settlement, whereas Series Three concludes a lengthy story arc involving series regulars Greg Preston (Ian McCulloch) and Jenny Richards (Lucy Fleming) and also concerns itself with the efforts to rebuild a national infrastructure - including the restoration of electrical power. Whether there was scope for a fourth series is debatable, but after following the characters over a journey of 39 episodes from the End of the World to the light at the end of the disease-ridden tunnel, it would have been nice to have had something like a proper farewell. That said, the conclusion as it stands is sufficient for the viewer to avoid feeling cheated. Well-written, generally finely-acted with some top-quality guest stars (examples being George Baker, Patrick Troughton, Peter Jeffrey, Richard Heffer and a significantly-brief appearance by Peter Bowles) and a few interesting "before they were famous" roles for the likes of June Brown, Roger Lloyd Pack and a VERY young Brian Conley (!), and exploring intruiging themes to sometimes hard-hitting effect, "Survivors" takes you into a barren, primitive world so carefully drawn and conveyed that, by the end of the series the occasional reminders of the "old world" - even down to nothing more than a few photographs, pinned to the wall of a quarantine room for victims of a newly-rampant smallpox, of people enjoying a drink at the pub - are capable of evoking a sad longing for things lost

Among the very best of British, and the opening and closing music is wonderful, too!
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on 8 December 2008
At it's best, Survivors 1975 - 77 is the most realistic series the BBC has ever made - dumping the incidental music & replacing it with the natural sounds of birdsong etc was probably an economy measure - but it was a very good move.
At it's worst, probably "The Witch" & "The Peacemaker" episodes are still more entertaining & thought provoking than most modern TV.
The acting is natural & far from perfect, but even more realistic because of it - the diction is very good. Special mentions go to Lucy Fleming, Carolyn Seymour, Denis Lil & Ian McCulloch, also the late Celia Gregory.
Please buy & enjoy, then use what influence you can muster - to persuade modern Broadcasters to produce material of this quality.
The only thing lacking in Survivors is the technical 16/9 clarity that a modern production can bring.
Bob
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on 5 March 2014
Don't let the title of my review put you off - Survivors is immensely watchable and works on your psyche in a number of different ways. The truly wonderful things about it are the obvious cold and the silence, and then there's the feel and pieces of truly genuine TV excellence like the 'Mad Dog' episode.
I love it now almost as much as I did when I was young.
Heraclitus' philosphical quote "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man" runs true with this series. If you are buying it hoping to relive your childhood fantasies, I think you won't find them. If on the other hand you buy with an open mind then you might well squeeze every last drop of goodness out.
And the goodness is there.
It makes you think 'What if?' just as much now (maybe even more so) than it did then.
You just have to get past a few things which maybe weren't so obvious when you were young, the key of which are the terrible inconsistencies in plot line, some truly hilarious continuity, dodgy acting and unbelievability (the nagging neatness of 'untended' countryside being the main one).
OK, that sounds harsh, but remember I love this series too - it just could have been so much better.
For today, if you got a team of script writers who actually worked together, and kept as close to Terry Nation's tiny paperback as possible; then mixed in the feel of 'Day Of The Triffids' and Edmund Cooper's unsung masterpiece 'All Fool's Day' you could rewrite it into something which would grip a nation. Honestly. The bare bones are there. Ignore the terrible remake from the noughties - it was rubbish - approach with love and thought and you could make TV gold . . but then again maybe that's just me fantasising . . .
Back to the original, I've always thought it influenced people at the time (reading some of the reviews here, I can see it has), and it could well influence you. The one thing it should do is make you think and realise how hopelessly fragile modern life is. If the world had stopped in 1975, people would have coped, however in 2014? I doubt it very much.
Enjoy your box set - it is a superb, thought provoking, but ultimately flawed gem. Thanks for reading,
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on 12 December 2014
I really enjoyed Series 1 of Survivors and every episode had me gripped and i could not wait to watch the next, the first season is the best, Spoiler Alert- Its when we get to the end of series 1, when Abbey Grant (Carolyn Seymour) leaves and does not return for the rest of the series 1 as does some of the other cast who get killed in the fire, it goes downhill, its a shame because i was getting used to the characters and when you get to Series 2 there is only about four characters left, i really enjoyed watching Carolyn Seymour who is the main character, also enjoyed Tom Price played by the Welsh Actor Talfryn Thomas, actor with huge teeth you might know him when he was in Dads Army and Doctor Who Green Death, i feel it was a big mistake to kill off Tom Price.
Terry Nation wrote Series 1, its when you get to Series 2 and 3 it starts to turn into a soap opera, i got bored and struggled to watch some of the episodes, my advice watch Series 1 its great but there a only a few episodes on Series 2 and 3 worth watching.
Could have been a Classic but goes out with a whimper instead of a bang.
Oh i trade my Survivors boxset in for some Classic Doctor Who dvds!
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on 22 April 2014
Cossetted as we are (physically) within the state care system and emotionally protected as we are by a spurious and hypocritical 'correctness' ,this 1970's post apocalyptic tale unearths the reality of survival in a world without safety nets of any sort.
It reveals the innate group survival mechanism which makes tribalism an imperative,and we see the place of the current self-indulgent 'individualism' or rather the selfish materialism of the 'me' philosophy becoming a dangerous irrelevance if mankind is to survive.Similarly 'equality' and feminism are at odds with the new reality which makes leaders overnight and shows that in these conditions might will take over from any pretence of democracy.
It tackles important questions of the validity of marriage in a community where females out-number males.It deals with the apparent absurdity of contraception in a world almost devoid of human beings,similarly abortion becomes anathema to small groups attempting to re-populate an empty landscape.It handles mercy killing and abandonment of the sick to protect the healthy.
Although caught up in the 'gender' war obsession of the time in which it was written,much of the dialogue allows both sides of the argument to be heard,warts and all,which is more than can be said of modern sanitised BBC offerings which have routinely been subjected to glib 'correctness' and show every form of divergence from this dogma as dangerous subversion.
All in all the 1970's freedom of speech and expression are a breath of fresh air -even when dealing with such a dark subject.
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2013
Series 1: This is top quality television. Everyone who worked on this series had a fine pedigree, whether they are writer, director, film cameraman or actor. The series (and every episode) starts with the powerful Anthony Isaac music, accompanied by a clever title sequence which explained the central premise for anyone who might have missed previous instalments. That premise, and really the only science-fiction element in the whole show is that a deadly disease has escaped from a laboratory in China and has spread throughout the world, killing 999 out of every thousand people. The opening episode starts with the almost sitcom domesticity of Peter Bowles and Carolyn Seymour as David and Abby Grant. David's petulant complaints about the traffic and his dreadful commute are soon overtaken by events as he and Abby have to deal with the very real threats of the plague, followed by the loss of television, radio, and electricity. As the series gets going, Abby teams up with a younger, attractive woman Jenny, and a resourceful engineer Greg. Initially their struggle is just to survive, but then they start to rebuild some sort of society. A thorn in their side is Tom Price, played with scene-stealing aplomb by Welsh actor Talfryn Thomas. A rather seedy tramp, Thomas is the light relief in several episodes, until the stand-out story Law And Order, when he's responsible for a chain of events that ends up in tragedy for the fledgeling community. Creator Terry Nation wrote several episodes this series, and often puts words in his characters' mouths which remind us of the fragility of our modern society. The characters ponder whether a modern day person could even make something as simple as a candle - where would they get the tallow, where would they get the string for the wick? How would they mould it? This element of polemic is kept up throughout the three series. Series one is peppered with an all-star guest cast, such as George Baker, Peter Miles, Robert Gillespie, Glyn Owen and Dennis Lill.

Series 2: As this series starts, the characters have relocated to a different farm and several cast members were written out and in. This is mostly for the good, however the loss of Carolyn Seymour is keenly felt. Replacing her is the Welsh character Charles, who had a small role in series one, played by Denis Lill. Lill is a very strong actor and capable of carrying the series in Seymour's absence. However Ian McCulloch who plays Greg Preston is also an able leading man, and the tension in the community between the two leaders is felt by the viewer, who doesn't really know which to follow. The scripts in this series are weaker, as producer Terence Dudley dismissed creator Terry Nation from the writing team. Only Jack Ronder remained as writer from the first year of production, and replacements Don Shaw and Roger Parkes turn in some workmanlike scripts but are not up to the same standard Only Martin Worth arrives with some writing quality. However the acting quality remained good and wonderful child actors Tanya Ronder and Stephen Dudley are retained from season one. Replacing Talfryn Thomas's character as comic relief is the underused John Abineri as grumpy shepherd Hubert. There are some strong guest turns from Patrick Troughton, Philip Madoc, David Sibley and notably Sidney Tafler, giving his all as a Jewish spiv (did he play any other type of role?) as leader of the community in London. Difficult issues continue to be addressed, but there is a sense that the story has already been told.

Series 3: This series saw a shake-up in the format. No longer were we confined to one community or farm, we follow our characters as they set off about the country on horseback with Ian McCulloch and Denis Lill alternating as leads. John Abineri's character Hubert is more prominent in this series, and some of the comedy of his character is lost and we see his more heroic traits emerging. For an actor of Abineri's character, this is just reward for his contribution to series two. Again we're treated to some star names as guest actor of the week, including Iain Cuthbertson, Roy Marsden, and Brian Blessed. While the accent in the second series had been on the philosophy of self-sufficiency, this series dwelled on the reconstruction of society and rebuilding structures of state, an economy, and an infrastructure. By the end of this series, the story has really been told, and it comes to a fine conclusion when Cuthbertson's chippy Scottish laird argues with Lill's egalitarian Welshman about who will own the power once the generators get going again. Martin Worth's final script retains only a little of the essential pessimism of Terry Nation's original vision, and while this might make for a satisfying conclusion, it does mean that the series as a whole is tonally uneven. Nevertheless, every episode is enjoyable, and every episode has something to commend it.

DVD Extras: The extras on this edition are really poor. Previous single series boxed sets had many more extras and commentaries. This set has no commentaries at all, just a brief documentary from the "The Cult Of..." series and a handful of BBC publicity snaps. However you can't really complain for the price this is being released at, and overall it represents excellent value for the price of five packets of cigarettes.
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on 23 March 2010
Survivors is the first post doomsday drama on British television, echoing the pessimistic world view of 70s science fiction feature films such as The Andromeda Strain, The Omega Man or Planet of the Apes. Of course Survivors obviously also owes a lot to the grandmaster of British Science Fiction, John Wyndham with some dialogues almost verbatim taken from the day of the Triffids. But that does not have an impact on the quality of the programme. Like in Romero's Crazies the bureaucracy just fails terribly and the world becomes overrun by a deadly virus. Helpless attempts at stopping it are made but it all ends with a whimper. So a group of survivors from all different walks of life meet and group together. The disaster brings out the best and the worst in people: the hamprered housewife turns into a leader, the leader into a fascist and a rich woman into the bitch from hell. So a lot of the drama comes from the dynamics between the people and all the dilemas you face in this situation. For viewers of todaya it takes a while getting used to the much slower pace of narration of the 70s. Long scenes, no hand camera and sparingly used music. That makes it look dated but once you accept it, it really makes very good viewing because the pace matches the helplesness of the people. Theonly drawback for me is that as with a lot of 70s and especially 80s British TV the outdoor scenes and the studio scenes were shot on different material so that as a viewer you experience really harsh differences in term of the picture.
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on 9 February 2009
Excellent, I really enjoyed watching the series again.
It took me right back to the 1970s.
Relatively low budget BBC drama, with no special effects or blood and gore, but lots of imagination and in the main very credible characters which made compelling stories.
Watching the series as an adult (I was 13-16 when it was aired on TV) it was striking how many different themes were explored (such as the execution of Barney, the Miners' Union, Greg becoming bored with family life, not to mention who should control the hydro-electric power generated in Scotland!).
Great stuff, and a highly recommended piece of British TV nostalgia.
The set was quite expensive, but I don't regret spending the money.
If you are in your 40s and have Survivors in the back of your mind, then buy it!
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