Updated: January 09 2018 21:13
With Jenny's help, medical student Ruth must battle to save the life of a trapped and seriously injured young thief
MEDICAL STUDENT RUTH and Jenny are en route from Whitecross to the Foundation settlement, carrying medical supplies, when they are ambushed by a trio of young highway robbers in the woods. Threatening the pair at knife-point, the thieves demand food and supplies. When Ruth is able to fire off a warning shot, the three attackers flee. Craig, the eldest of the group, falls into a hidden "trapping pit" (an old method of hunting for wild animals) injuring his leg and becoming impaled on an exposed tree root. As Craig urges his compatriots to save themselves by running away, Jenny and Ruth come to his aid. It soon becomes clear that the seriousness of Craig's injuries require more than simple field medicine. While Jenny agrees to race to the Foundation to fetch transport and more help, Ruth must do all she can to stabilise Craig, using every resource to hand. Isolated in the woods at night, she must contend with packs of hungry marauding dogs, and the threat posed by Craig's vengeful sister Spike who blames the trapped Ruth for her brother's predicament. Even if Ruth can survive long enough, extricating Craig from the pit without killing him will be a huge challenge that tests her skills to the limit. But Ruth has promised the enraged Spike that she will keep her wounded brother alive...
THE CENTRAL CONCEIT of "The Trapping Pit" fits the audio drama format perfectly. The episode focuses on a gruesome medical emergency and a race against time to save the life of young miscreant who, along with his compatriots, has attempted, somewhat ineptly, to rob Jenny and Ruth on the road to the Foundation. After Craig crashes into the trapping pit, events unfold almost in real-time, with only the briefest of fast-forwards in the story's narrative, as Christopher Hatherall's script keeps piling on the dramatic tension.
Helen Goldwyn is the first member of the Big Finish Survivors audio cast to take on the challenge of stepping in the shoes of a character from the original TV series. Adding to the sense of expectation around her portrayal of Ruth Anderson is the fact that the young medical student is such a well-loved member of the Whitecross settlement. Any doubts that Goldwyn might misjudge her reading of Ruth are immediately dismissed. Her realisation of the character brings out Ruth's passion, drive and self-belief, without neglecting the empathy that motivates her commitment to a post-apocalyptic Hippocratic oath.
Goldwyn's realisation of the character brings out Ruth's passion, drive and self-belief
Fleming also impresses in again being able to show how Jenny can motivate and inspire those around them to do what is necessary. Sometimes overshadowed by Greg's alpha-male instincts during her tenure at Whitecross, The Trapping Pit again sees Jenny negotiating her own way through the world without her hubby at her side. Although much of the drama naturally focuses on Ruth's emergency field medicine, Jenny is also in the thick of the action, and once more demonstrating her independent mettle.
George Watkins does a fantastic job in what could be a thankless role of the injured (and possibly doomed) Craig. Although he serves up the howls, screams and whelps of his injury with great conviction (and some of those shouts of pain may cause many listeners to shudder involuntarily) he also finds texture in a rounded characterisation of this far-from-villainous young man. He explains the determination to save his sister 'Spike' and their new young charge Lucas drove the trio into a life of criminality and robbery (a career that they, frankly, don't excel at). If the residents of Hertsby chose isolation to keep themselves free of infection, then Craig and Spike took advice from their parents to heart: trust no-one, and rely only on each other. It's advice that has kept the youngsters outside of the care and support of a settlement, and forced them to rely solely on their own wits. The psychological toll of such a lifestyle in the post-Death world on those young survivors can only be imagined.
Jenny is also in the thick of the action, and once again demonstrating her independent mettle
Hatherall's script is a superbly paced action drama and director Ken Bentley makes great play of the potential of what is essentially a single setting: the trapping pit itself. Clever sound design ensures that the position of characters (and wild animals) above, in or struggling on the climb in and out of the pit is always clear to the listener. Craig's gruesome injury (having a tree root pierce his abdomen) adds to the 'wince factor' of the piece, and is a conceit which allows Ruth to demonstrate her live-saving skills (most untrained survivors might have tried to remove the root from his body in-situ, ensuring that Craig would quickly bleed out).
It's great to have further confirmation that the Foundation community continues to thrive, after the 'sudden departure' of its former head Theo. And while there isn't a huge amount for Zoë Tapper's Evelyn to do, her arrival together with Titch (winningly voiced by Hatherall) provides the necessary personnel to extract Craig from what would otherwise be his tomb. Confrontations with wild dogs and a final showdown with the distraught Spike deliver additional thrills and peril along the way, and there's a satisfying finale in which Craig is given the chance of recovery and Spike and the young Lucas see, for the first time since The Death, the possibility of a better life as part of a community. It's an upbeat endpoint and works well in the context of a tough-as-nails near-death experience. As the closing theme soars, Ruth is firmly established in the Big Finish Survivors canon, a clear vindication of the decision to extend the ensemble of original TV series' characters on which future audio drama writers can draw.
RELENTLESSLY GRIM WITH some incredible performances... this is the most human episode of Survivors and is the ethos of the series personified in one episode.
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas
FULL OF HEART-IN-THE-MOUTH moments, the story is premised on desperate efforts to save the life of a badly injured young highway robber
Rich Cross, Starburst
THIS IS A distressing, but compelling listen and George Watson really makes an impression as the wounded Craig – not for the faint-hearted!
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User
IT'S AN INTENSELY, carefully constructed episode that finishes with one of the most powerful sequences the show has done to date.
Alasdair Stuart, Sci-Fi Bulletin
The ninth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"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"
The eight series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"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
The seventh series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"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
The sixth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"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
The fifth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"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
The fourth series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"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
The third series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
The second series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
A full-length audiobook of Terry Nation's Survivors novel (in CD and download formats) read by Carolyn Seymour.
The first series of new Survivors audio adventures is available to purchase (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
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