Adrian Lukis (James Gillison)

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Updated: January 07 2017 18:11


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

Gillison is a man who eventually decides that he will have to be the one who leads the chosen few out of the darkness and into the light

INTERVIEW series one

Can you remember, or have you since caught up with the original Survivors TV series?

I do remember. Actually my memory of it was that it was grainy black-and-white and I thought that Jenny Seagrove was in it. So I got it completely wrong. Because it was colour, and Jenny Seagrove wasn't in it! I got it completely wrong. But I am certainly old enough to have been around at the time.

Often with Big Finish dramas the setting is very much in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. But Survivors is set in a real time and place: in the pretty bleak context of 1970s Britain and of the Cold War. As an actor how does working in the real historic context compare to playing an alien on the Planet Zog?

The Cold War gave many people a sense that 'the end of the world' could well be just around the corner.

Adrian Lukis

No. I love those Planet Zog stories! I was just reminiscing with one of the other actors who said 'well, I played a giant blob who had to go around making squeaky monster noises.' I remember doing one of these things where I had to be eaten by extra-terrestrial ants, I think. And I remember the director Ken Bentley saying 'OK, at the moment, I think you're screaming a bit too much. I think right now they're just nibbling your feet.' And then the next take it was 'OK, this one is more painful because now he’s working his way up your thigh.' And then it was 'Right, this one is where you’re literally being eaten.' So there is a certain fantasy level to that. Survivors I find truer and more akin to serious drama. I must say that, personally, I found this more of a page-turner, because so much of the other audio dramas are – intentionally – complete fantasy.

There's a difference, isn't there? When you’re invading the planet Phetos' central compound with Queen Zardinia and her extra-terrestrial helpers making monster noises, there’s a 'campness' to that sort of acting. I think if we were to employ the same kind of slightly over-theatrical approach it just wouldn't sit as comfortably with this sort of material. This is a much more real sort of work.

In the mid-1970s, as you pointed out, the Cold War gave many people a sense that 'the end of the world' could well be just around the corner. I think there was a lot of very serious debate in society at the time. Hence the context for something like Survivors being commissioned, and then written, and then filmed.

It would be hard to say that those themes don't resonate in the present day, wouldn't it?

Well, if we take the things we read in the press, we can see that the world's population is going to double in the next 50 years, or whatever. Food is going to be stretched. Water is going to be a big problem.

Could you introduce your own character, and say a little about what sort of a person he is?

I'm playing Doctor Gillison, an academic. He's a lecturer in Sociology at Feltham Polytechnic. And in rather a brainwave of the writers, we hear him in a lecturer talking about Emile Durkheim, who was – as is touched on in the script – one of the early founders of the discipline of sociology. So what, in the realm of theory, he is lecturing to his class about becomes a terrible reality when this virus strikes.

A strong man is needed, he thinks. And if people have to be expended along the way, then so be it

Adrian Lukis

When people are reduced to the level of simply trying to survive – the barbarity and what I suppose is the immorality – you see the desire and the need to create structure, so that people can survive in teams and groups. It's a good part, and he's a man who eventually decides that he will have to be the one who leads the chosen few out of the darkness and into the light.

And does that bring out the best in him?

I think that he's misunderstood! [Laughs] 'You must have a strong man in charge', he'd claim. He sees himself as a man who is trying to bring order to the survivors and to save mankind. And a strong man is needed, he thinks. And if people have to be expended along the way, then so be it – because the few must survive. And I think he would justify himself completely in those terms. There's no room, he'd certainly claim, for wishy-washy morality.

Has it been an enjoyable production to work on?

For me, the thing that I enjoy most about this is standing in my little booth, watching the other actors in their booth, while we're all working. One of the actors that I saw today was pretending to hold a gun, waving it around while he was doing his performance. At various times we've been beaten up, or been beating someone else up; and cavorting around our little booths watching each other is quite funny.

 

Big Finish - Survivors -  series one - cast members: Phil Mulryne, Camilla Power and Adrian Lukis

 


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The seventh series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

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"At times harrowing, at other moments uplifting, and never anything other than completely riveting listening, this latest series of Survivors audios delivers drama that is simply unmissable. As the series leaves behind the timeline of the TV incarnation of the show, Big Finish's writers, cast and crew are all clearly brimming with fully deserved confidence. The two series of new Survivors audios coming in 2018 could scarcely be a more exciting or (in the best sense of the word) a more unpredictable prospect, 10/10" - Starburst

Survivors: series six

The sixth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

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Survivors: series five

The fifth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series five - cover  

"As it explores the highest stakes possible, this develops into the most thrilling and compelling set of stories in Big Finish's Survivors series to date: which, considering the exceptional quality of the drama in the preceding four instalments, is quite some achievement. This is extraordinary, exemplary human drama; by any standard, 10/10" - Starburst

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The fourth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series four - cover  

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Survivors: series three

The third series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series three - cover detail

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The second series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Survivors - Big Finish - series two - cover detail

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A full-length audiobook of Terry Nation's Survivors novel (in CD and download formats) read by Carolyn Seymour.

Survivors: series one

The first series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.

Latest updates

 

Series seven reviews added

Added: 14 January 2018

 

Series six reviews added

Added: 12 July 2017

 

Series five reviews added

Added: 20 December 2016

 

Series four reviews added

Added: 26 June 2016

 

Series three reviews added

Added: 18 December 2015

 

New interviews added

Added: 21 November 2015

 

Links

Original TV series (1975-1977)
Survivors remake (2008-2010)