The Basics

A brief history of the first release of Survivors series one on VHS

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Covers of all six volumes of the BBC Worldwide video release of Survivors series one
The BBC Worldwide video release

In 1993, the BBC released the first series of Survivors on a set of six PAL VHS tapes. The first five of these contained two episodes each; the sixth and concluding tape comprised the final three episodes of series one.

The BBC produced a one-minute trailer to promote the release, based on clips from The Fourth Horseman with an overlayed narration. Towards the end, the narrator's voice asked, in a suitably ominous tone: "Will this be the end of one world... or the birth of another?", before the closing on-screen caption declared: "Coming soon from BBC Video". The trailer was used as a short ‘teaser’ advertisement on a parallel BBC Worldwide video release of (at least one volume of) Terry Nation's Blake’s 7, although no indication was given on-screen that the two programmes shared the same creator.

The release of Survivors' first series was widely welcomed across the genre press, with – for example – Anthony Brown in Dreamwatch celebrating the release of the fourth tape in the series with the observation: “Law & Order, as far as I’m concerned, is perhaps British telefantasy’s finest hour, and personally speaking I’d have had no hesitation in giving it a ten” (September 1993). Reviewing the release in TV Zone, Survivors' actor (and later scriptwriter) Ian McCulloch was pleased to observe: “I can say with total honesty that contrary to my worst fears they remain as fresh and original as ever. From the first picture on the screen with its accompanying brooding and threatening music to the final credits and each episode’s moment of hope, my family — none of whom had seen the series — sat rooted” (Issue 47).

Unfortunately, sales of the six tapes in the high street were not sufficiently strong for BBC Worldwide to green-light the subsequent release of Survivors' second or third series. Expressing his disappointment at the decision, McCulloch noted that an “abject lack of promotion and advertising” appeared to have sealed the release’s fate (TV Zone, Issue 52). Others have suggested that the failure of a highly significant distribution deal with a key high-street chain lost BBC Worlwide a stream of critically important sales. Whatever the balance of explanations, the 1993 VHS release would be the last time that the BBC would attempt to release the series under its own imprint – all future releases of the programme would be licensed to other entertainment companies.

Long since deleted by BBC Worldwide, second-hand copies of this video release of Survivors first series regularly appear for sale on internet auction sites. However, in the ten years before Survivors was finally released on DVD, the first series of the show would be issued on video for a second time; and then again in 2003, for a third time, in parallel with that DVD release.

Survivors: The Basics

An introduction to Survivors
Episode guide
Themes and plot 'arcs'
Survivors: main characters
Survivors on satellite & cable TV
The BBC Worldwide video release
The Sovereign Video re-release
The DD Video re-release
Survivors series one on DVD

Survivors series two on DVD
Survivors series three on DVD
Survivors three series DVD box-set
Survivors Italian DVD releases
Survivors Region 1 DVD box-set
Survivors novelisations
'Making of' and Survivors Guide Books
Fanzines and other publications
Reviving and remaking Survivors


Front cover of The End of the World?: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Survivors

Cover price: £ 12.99.

More information and reviews >>>

The End of the World?

An authoritative and comprehensive guide to all aspects of Survivors is provided in The End of the World?: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Survivors, co-authored by Rich Cross and Andy Priestner. Richly illustrated with behind-the-scenes photos, the book includes: Guides to the production of each of the three series of the show; reviews and analysis of all 38 episodes; assessments of the core themes of each series; character and location guides... and much more besides.

Published by Telos Publishing in December 2005, the title is currently out of print. Plans to publish an updated edition of the book are currently on hold.


Home | Survivors: The Basics

Basics: Introduction | Episode guide | Characters | Themes | Videos | DVDs | Novels | 'Making of...' books
Behind-the-scenes:Unseen series one location shots
Books: Survivors book: The End of the World? | Survivors book: Worlds Apart
Terry Nation study - Bignell and O'Day | Terry Nation study - Turner | Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Survivors
Cast and crew: Memorabilia 2011 | Pennant Roberts: 1940-2010
DVDs: Series 1 DVD | Series 2 DVD | Series 3 DVD | DVD news
DVD studio day photo galleries: Series 1 | Series 2 | Series 3
Interviews: Jonathan Bignell | Peter Duncan | Don Shaw | Roger Monk | Alwyn W Turner | Pete Wallbank
Locations: Genesis: 2005 location finds | Genesis: 2013 location finds | Genesis: Greg Preston's home
Gone Away: 2013 location finds | Hampton Court interiors | The Last Laugh locations
TV: 'The Cult of...' Survivors | Survivors Australian trailer | See The Enemy in 'TV Heaven'
Writing: Writings on Survivors | SciFi Now: Survivors | Action TV: Survivors
More: 'Goofs and Gaffes' | Survivors at the BFI | Survivors in SFX 'best ever' poll
Survivors on Mastermind | How to annoy a Survivors fan

Survivors book: The End of the World?

Survivors: Mad Dog