Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston)

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Updated: April 14 2017 13:54


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

If it is a bonus having the three of us original cast members in it, then all the more credit to them for chasing us all up and getting us all together.

INTERVIEW series one

Did the approach from Big Finish come as a complete surprise? Had you any inkling that plans for new Survivors audio adventures were in motion?

No. I'd met people from Big Finish at various conventions that I'd been to, and I knew that they specialised in science fiction. But I didn’t have a clue, at all, that they were going to be looking at Survivors. So it was a very pleasant surprise.

You hadn't done any work with them before on any other projects, had you?

No, no. I've been trying to think of what radio work and audios I've done; and they’re few and far between, I think. I did a couple of Doctor Finlays a hundred years ago and something called Waggoner's Walk probably two hundred years ago. But no, I haven't done any before now.

Did Big Finish make it immediately clear that they were intending to involve the three leading actors from the original series – yourself, Lucy Fleming and Carolyn Seymour?

They certainly said that they hoped that they were going to be able to do it. They said that they did have Lucy on board, and that they hoped to have Carolyn as well. And, eventually, they said 'yes, Carolyn will be in episode one or two' and Lucy and I would join in episode two or three, and that they intended, with the second series, to have all three of us in together.

Those characters were the heart and soul of the series - and Survivors really does seem to have a solid fan base.

Ian McCulloch

How important is it to the success and credibility of the series to be able to reform that original trio of characters – Greg, Jenny and Abby?

Well, I think that those characters were the heart and soul of the series – one, two and three. I know that Carolyn had gone by the start of series two, and Lucy was the only one who went through until the bitter end. But I think that those characters provided the backbone of everything that the series had been about. When I go to conventions here and in America, there’s still a huge amount of interest; and Carolyn's character is one that people say they wish had been in the series all of the way through. Survivors really does seem to have a solid fan base.

Your experience on the original TV series gave you very clear ideas of what did and didn’t work in terms of Survivors scripts and storylines. Did you get the chance to see scripts or talk through story ideas before you had to make a decision about whether to be involved in the Big Finish dramas?

No, I wasn't involved in anything like that. They asked me if I’d like to do it and I said I'd be happy to do it. I’m trying to remember how late on the two scripts that we’ve done came through, and when they arrived for us to look at? Although our characters are there, it is quite different from Terry Nation's work. They are all very original stories, and quite different from Terry’s original scripts. But they are very much in the style that he had envisaged.

It is fascinating to see Big Finish take the approach of returning to the earliest days of the pandemic – effectively weaving new dramas into the existing TV storylines of series one. Have you had to re-familiarise yourself with those original episodes – and remember where Greg was and what he was doing?

Not really! I think that they’re filling out the character of Greg, because now they know what he was like and what he did. They've developed the character a lot more, extending the character beyond the man he was when he appeared in episode two of the original TV series. I assumed that what they wanted was a continuation of me doing the part. Whatever they wrote, in the way of character and all of the rest of it, I was going to be happy to do. I don’t think it's completely what the TV series was, but I don’t think it could be because an awful lot of that was visual.

These characters were a joy to play. There was plenty of variety, plenty of drive, and plenty of incidents happening to them all of the time.

Ian McCulloch

How easy was it to re-connect with the character of Greg? Was he a character it felt very natural to find yourself inhabiting again?

Oh, yes. And I think that's the case with all of them. My character, and Carolyn's too, were a joy to play on screen. There was plenty of variety, plenty of drive, and plenty of incidents happening to them all of the time. Lucy had perhaps the most difficult part to fill, of the three of us. It's just nice to be asked, easy to do and fun to do. They do look after you beautifully. The food is delicious. They make sure you’re – well, not wined, but - dined, and they bend over backwards to fit in with whatever your other scheduled commitments might be, with the recording.

Compared to the work involved in being part of a TV or film production, am I right in assuming that the relative simplicity of audio work is quite attractive for an actor?

Some people have an absolute natural fluency for this, they have an absolute facility for doing this sort of thing vocally. And the people who are there, playing other new characters in this, had obviously done an awful lot of work on radio, in audio, and for Big Finish before. They do it so well it makes it much easier for you to slip in to it and connect with their style of doing it.

Would you hope that these adventures appeal to those new to Survivors; or is this something aimed specifically at established fans?

Well, Big Finish know who their target audience is, and this is obviously aimed at people who know about the series and who would latch on to the idea of a new version. And then there are those – who I come acros, to my astonishment, over and over again at these conventions – find science fiction absolutely hypnotic, in whatever shape or form it is. So they've got those two groups. And if it is a bonus having the three of us original cast members in it, then all the more credit to them for chasing us all up and getting us all together.

If well received, these audio adventures could run-and-run. Would you be willing to continue being involved?

Things like this are just so easy to do. There's no hard work other than travel, and there's a lot of fun, and you know at the end of the day that the people who are going to buy it are going to get pleasure and enjoyment out of it. When it comes to the work, Big Finish are the judges. It's like when you’re do a film and you say to the producer and director 'well, I'm not sure how well that went', and he says 'if I'm happy, then it's fine'. And they seemed genuinely happy. They weren't just saying it to keep us content. They seemed really happy with what they'd got.

 

Big Finish - Survivors - series one: Lucy Fleming and Ian McCulloch

 


Survivors: series nine

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

Survivors - Big Finish - series nine

"There's still great potential here, as the UK begins to emerge from the dark ages of The Death, for more stories set in this uniquely realised dystopia, should sufficient numbers of those who have yet to purchase copies of this extraordinary audio series belatedly recognise the error of their ways. If that doesn't happen, this will remain a stunning finale for what must be celebrated as a consistently compelling audio drama, 5/5"
Cultbox

Survivors: series eight

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

Survivors - Big Finish - series eight

"This latest boxset delivers an impressive mix of large scale, high stakes and small scale, intimate stories which set in motion the events which will come to an explosive conclusion in the final set in this current run of post-apocalyptic dramas, 5/5 " - Cultbox

Survivors: series seven

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

Survivors - Big Finish - series seven

"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.

Survivors - Big Finish - series six

"After five extraordinarily well-received box sets, each of which offered a self-contained and themed collection of four episodes, the sixth series of Survivors audio adventures confidently takes a fresh approach... It's a liberating shift in format and, under the keenly judged direction of Ken Bentley, these scripts make exceptional use of the opportunity to tell diverse, if equally compelling, standalone stories, 10/10" - Starburst

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

Survivors: series four

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  

"Intelligent, literate and superbly scripted and performed, this is a post-apocalyptic drama of the highest possible calibre. Determined to avoid the predictable tropes of that genre, it invites its listeners to navigate a moral minefield in a way that few other dramas of this type would attempt. This comes recommended without reservation" - Starburst

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

Survivors: series two

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

Survivors: audio-book

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 nine reviews added

Added: 13 July 2019

 

Series eight reviews added

Added: 9 January 2019

 

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)