John Banks (Daniel Connor)

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Updated: January 01 2016 17:29


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

This is proper work. This is proper acting. It's a fantastic script, and we really need to do it justice, because it's addressing serious issues.

INTERVIEW series one

When you got the call from Big Finish to come in and take a role in Survivors did you say 'what's that?' or 'at last, my favourite show, I can't believe my good fortune?

I would always say 'thank you for my great good fortune'! I do remember the original series of Survivors. But as that was quite a while ago, I had to refresh my memory. So I went out and got the DVDs and watched them all. I think at the time that they were broadcast, I was first at school and then at university, and I had very little time. I didn’t even own a TV at university, so I missed out on a lot of things. But I do remember Survivors.I was intrigued with what might happen to the series in the audio format. I've done a fair amount of work now with David Richardson and the people at Big Finish, and I know how they bring such care to all of the series and all of the properties that they're involved with.

We have been talking about this series, actually, for almost a year. It's taken a while to come around, and as an actor who was potentially going to be involved I didn't want to get myself too excited, too soon – just in case there were problem which couldn’t be overcome and it didn't go ahead. But it is something that I've had at the back of my mind now for almost twelve months; and as soon I was given an idea of who would be coming in to write each episode, and who would be directly then I couldn’t contain that excitement and longer! And having watched the DVDs again and having refreshed my memory, I just couldn’t wait to read the first couple of scripts.

I do remember the original series of Survivors, but I had to refresh my memory. So I went out and got the DVDs and watched them all

John Banks

I'm always enthusiastic about any work involving Big Finish, because I know it's going to be of the highest quality. I particularly like the concept of Survivors because it asks so many basic, fundamental questions, and is one way through which we can take a look at what it is to be ourselves, to be human beings, and to think about what we're doing with and to each other.

There is something in the air at the moment, the zeitgeist or whatever, an anxiety that something appalling – whether it’s a pandemic, or a global conflict - that might affect us all and change the world forever. That worry about that happening raises all kinds of questions. What would we do as individuals to eachother? How would we act and get on with eachother? Would we be supportive? Would we get together in groups and work collectively together? Would we work brilliantly well together or would there be a huge amount of conflict?

Survivors is in some ways a vehicle to explore those questions; to see how, when we are placed in an appallingly stressful situation of disaster, we as human being deal with and react to that. I think the series works on all kinds of levels, which is why, I'm sure, there's still a huge fanbase for Survivors.

Tell us a little bit about your character

My character is a journalist named Daniel Connor who, at the outset of the story, is thinking he's on to a great scoop: that the 'flu bug' is a brilliant story. He's investigating how over-stretched the NHS is, and he thinks this is going to propel his career forward, maybe into TV journalism. This is how he gets to write his book. This is the route to his Pulitzer prize. But very quickly we see how he's personally affected by the death of someone that he works with, that he respects and that he loves. The idea that he can make some kind of career gain out of this is abandoned. This story that he had been keeping at professional arms length suddenly becomes very personal, and we're taken into a very dark place for him.

A journalist working in the 1970s inhabited a very different, analogue world to the one we live in now - with no 24-hour rolling news, no social media and no world wide web.

Exactly! The most sophisticated piece of kit that he’s got is a tape recorder; and he suddenly realises that if he's going to make a story out of this he’s got to get batteries. But, as you say, there's no internet; there’s no iPad; there’s no easy, convenient way of doing things. This is journalism on foot – meeting people, interviewing people – the good old-fashioned way.

Given that Survivors is a more realistic sort of drama when compared to many of the more fantastical series produced by Big Finish, did you have to approach your work in a different way?

That's a really good question. I did have that conversation with Ken Bentley, who's directing, yesterday. I said to him before we started 'this is actually much more like day one of the rehearsal of a play, because there is so much to assimilate'. It's like any audio work, because there isn’t a huge amount of time and very little rehearsal time. Actors will have to make a commitment, and I found myself yesterday morning making character commitments in the hope that all the people around me, and the writer, were thinking 'yes, this is what we intended.' And I really needed that feedback, which in other audio dramas I wouldn't necessarily need quite in that way. Because this is a very realistic, quite dark, challenging script. I haven't regarded this in any way as science-fiction. I came to it from a much darker place, and I hadn’t got any of those feeling of thinking 'right, I can just go in here and have a bit of fun.' This is proper work. This is proper acting. It’s a fantastic script, and we really need to do it justice, because it’s addressing serious issues.

This is a very realistic, quite dark, challenging script. I haven't regarded this in any way as science-fiction.

John Banks

And you presumably can't be certain about your own character's fate?

Yes, absolutely. I'm not sure if we're being kept in the dark deliberately, so that we don't, as actors, pre-empt our characters' own demise? Even in the first episode, some fascinating and well-established characters suddenly find themselves in exactly those circumstances – for example, in one case, surviving The Death only to succumb to something else. That seem realistic. All over the world, we see in situations of crisis Cholera emerges really quickly, as does Typhoid, Typhus and all those sorts of things. And there’s no reason to think that that wouldn't occur in this scenario. So, yes, even if you survive The Death, you might not survive 'the life' that comes after.

In the original TV series, Survivors turned its attention towards the efforts of rural communities to establish the means of long term survival. Do those sorts of dramatic themes appeal to you too?

I can certainly see where that came from in the 1970s. You've only got to look at a series like The Good Life to see how that was exactly the sort of thing were thinking about. There was a particular interest in the idea of self-sufficiency. So that element of the story is fascinating. I think, for me, at the moment, what I'm enjoying about these new stories is the sense of things unravelling in a modern, well-resourced city, when all of those conveniences are stripped away from the characters. I think we're very much in the stripping away phase. And without revealing too much I think my character is going to find things quite difficult in future episodes, because he's not very practical. He's a journalist. He doesn’t necessarily have the skills that now are needed for the new society.

 

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)