Andrew Smith (Writer)

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Updated: July 02 2017 11:28


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

What can listeners look forward to? Characters you will love, one or two you may hate, all of whom you will be able to identify with

INTERVIEW series one

How familiar were you with Survivors when you received the commission?

Very - particularly the first series. I watched that series on transmission and I think I must have watched subsequent series, although I remember them less well. It says a lot for the series that the lead characters stick out in my memory as much as, if not more than, the situations that they found themselves in. They were believable - brave, resilient, but fallible. I remember Survivors very fondly for the gripping drama that it was, and when I received the email from Big Finish producer David Richardson asking if I would like to be a part of this I jumped at the chance.

All of the new characters have such interesting back stories that they were each a pleasure to write for

Andrew Smith

Did you choose to go back to the original source material and revisit some of the TV episodes before starting work? What did you take from the experience, if you did?

Yes, I bought the series on DVD and worked my way through the first two seasons - very quickly, as there wasn't too much time before I had to plough on with the storyline. So I put them on my iPad and watched them on the commute and while exercising and such. This helped to get the characters clear in my head. I particularly took away from it that Greg isn’t a hotheaded hero, he's very practical and often risk averse. He's wise enough to know that armed gangs are best not antagonised, and that sometimes you have to cut your losses. In other series he’d be the type of hero who would take on the bad guys whatever the odds and win, but that isn’t the typical Survivors way. I was also helped by your excellent book The End of the World?

Nation populated his band of survivors with some strong (and recognisably human) protagonists. Did you enjoy the opportunity to write for characters such as Greg and Jenny?

I was delighted to write for them. They are very human, very believable, and can be related to so easily. I'm particularly impressed by Greg's pragmatism, which sits alongside his often stubborn, dogmatic approach to helping shape an existence for him and his other survivors. I think his conversation with Abby at the end of [original TV series episode] "Law and Order", where he describes her as the leader and himself as the manager, speaks volumes and sums up his position (and his view of himself and his strengths) very well. Jenny is another lovely character, sometimes on the verge of panic, at other times overcoming her obvious fear and stepping up to perform acts of selfless heroism.

How challenging was it to have to situate your drama in the very specific time-and-place of mid-1970s Britain? Although the themes of Survivors are timeless, the context is very particular, isn’t it?

Good question. In a related way, it struck me recently that we were sitting in 2013 writing a series about an apocalypse from 1975 that clearly didn't happen - and yet that in no way diminishes the drama or impact of this audio series. This potential conflict of logic never once occurred to me while writing it, but it has recently occurred to me that I don't think anyone would propose writing an original series about a twentieth-century global disaster that didn't occur. But in revisiting a 1970s series, it somehow works without explanation.

I'm particularly impressed by Greg's pragmatism, which sits alongside his often stubborn, dogmatic approach

Andrew Smith

To more directly answer your question, the setting wasn't too challenging. I remember the 70s, and it was fun to revisit that world and drop in occasional references to the time. I also added a true-to-the-70s sexist gesture from one of my characters. Script editor Matt Fitton gave Jenny a line in response of: "Of all the sexist...".

There was one small aspect of 70s life, mentioned in a throwaway line in my episode, that provoked several exchanges of emails and a flurry of research on my part to find out if it was accurate. This was to establish whether or not there was late night shopping in 1975. I thought I remembered it, but a seed of doubt was placed. After digging up some historic references, old retail legislation and (crucially) speaking to my mother and to my mother-in-law, who had worked as a department store sales assistant in the 1960s, we discovered - yes, they did.

Can you introduce and say a little about your own story Judges?

Ooh I'm not sure how much I can say. It follows on from the scenario established in Matt Fitton's and Jonathan Morris' stories. It's set after "Something of Value" - episode 12 of the first TV series. Jenny and Greg have left the Grange after their basement food supplies have been flooded out, looking for new supplies, and meet up with some of the characters already established in the audio series, together with one or two new personalities. I did particularly enjoy creating and getting to know my first out-and-out police officer character, Sergeant Phil Bailey. He's a credit to the force! He has strong opinions about justice and law, and the state of justice in this post-Death society.

What can listeners look forward to from the new Survivors audio adventures?

Gripping, compelling drama. Ordinary people being tested in extreme adversity. Characters you will love, one or two you may hate, all of whom you will be able to identify with. And maybe a moment or two of heartbreak.

Is Survivors a series which has the potential to run and run in audio format?

It certainly has that potential. I'm not on board for series two, but I already genuinely cannot wait to hear it.


Read a review of Judges (by Andrew Smith)

 

Lucy Fleming and Ian McCulloch

 


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 seven

Four new battles for survival, from the world of Terry Nation's cult-classic series.

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 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)