Simon Clark (writer)

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Updated: December 04 2015 19:09


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

Waiting for that first series of Survivors audio dramas to be released by Big Finish became a kind of torture – but an exquisite torture

INTERVIEW series three

Given your long-standing interest in, and association with, Survivors it must now surely be a huge thrill to be in a position to write scripts for the audio version of the series

Yes, I'm a Survivors fan, and back in 1998 I even visited the filming locations in Derbyshire for the third series episode Mad Dog. As a writer, I'm supposed to be good with words. But I cannot find words strong enough to express how delighted I was to pen Contact.

Waiting for that first series of Survivors audio dramas to be released by Big Finish became a kind of torture – but an exquisite torture. When the first trailer went up on their site I listened to it half a dozen times and tingled with excitement at the ominous, growling sound of the familiar Survivors' theme music. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful.

 Chase Masterson delivers some beautiful moments of near-poetry in Contact

Simon Clark

So you can imagine how exciting it was when the release date finally came and I bought the download. I had thought that the story might be updated with little reference to the original. How wrong I was. I was so happy to discover that the stories, featuring Maddie Price and Daniel Connor, among others, were skilfully woven into the original world of Survivors. We were finding out what happened to other people at the same time as Abby, Jenny and the rest were struggling to stay alive in those TV episodes.

Could you ever imagine that you would get the chance to put words into the mouth of Abby Grant and hear them spoken aloud?

Well, I could imagine writing lines for Abby Grant – but for that to become a reality? No. Not in a million years. I've written plenty of end-of-the-world novels, such as Blood Crazy. Partly the reason for doing so was that I wanted to write stories like Survivors, a series I love.

Did the opportunity to get involved with the third series of Survivors come directly out of the Big Finish commission for an audio adaptation of your Night of the Triffids novel?

I'm not sure, but I think adapting Night of the Triffids for Big Finish must have helped a lot. After all, Survivors' and the Triffids's story are in the same ball park. Of course, in Wyndnham's Day of the Triffids a plague of blindness leads to the collapse of civilization. The flesh-eating Triffid plants then exploit this and take over.

What can listeners look forward to from your episode Contact?

I don't want to venture too much into 'spoiler' territory here. Generally, though, listeners can expect the danger and crisis that the Survivors' characters experience in the other episodes, together with some surprises. I know I'm being vague but I don’t want to reveal anything that blunts the enjoyment of the episode. Having said that, I push many of the characters to the limits of endurance, and bring them face-to-face with death.

You've got the opportunity to write for one of the newly established, and very popular, characters – Chase Masterson's Maddie Price. There's a 'driven' survivor, if ever there was one!

I'm new to scriptwriting, but one mantra stuck with me throughout, and that was to give all the actors the opportunity to use their full range of talents from quiet, intimate moments of sensitivity to all-out roaring torrents of emotion when a dramatic situation demanded it. Chase delivers some beautiful moments of near-poetry in Contact. As you can imagine, she does so with shimmering delicacy and grace.

Were you afforded the opportunity to introduce any new characters of your own?

 I push many of the characters to the limits of endurance, and bring them face-to-face with death

Simon Clark

This is where I nervously shuffle my feet and admit to introducing more characters than I thought I was permitted. The character of Jonathon is essential for the story. However, when I began Contact I realized that it cried out for another two characters so I created Jez and Pam. The moment they appeared on the page I realized that they had chemistry and their own important story. Without giving too much away, they were also essential to the plot. Of course, all drama productions must remain within budgets. I thought Matt might ask me to remove Jez and Pam. I shouldn't have worried, though, Big Finish care about their productions so much that the inclusion of the extra actors was approved straight away. I'm extremely glad, of course, because I think listeners will be drawn in by Pam and Jez's own drama.

Did you get the chance – as you did with Night of the Triffids – to visit the studio during the recording session?

Yes, I was there. So many other writers of Big Finish dramas must have told you what a fantastic experience it is to hear the actors perform their lines, so I'd be repeating what others have said. Even so, I have to put on record what how terrific it was to be there at the recording. It is marvellous, heart-warming, and it's hard to put into words the emotion that filled me when I sat there in the studio and heard the actors bring my script to life in such a vivid and powerful way.

With the Big Finish Survivors' commission now extended to at least five series do you have hopes of returning to the role of scriptwriter in future?

Given the opportunity I'd love to script another episode. Ever since I watched the TV series all those decades ago I've been making Survivors' stories up in my head. My schoolteachers always used to complain that "Simon's too much of a daydreamer". Yes, I was then, and I still daydream now. One particular 'daydream' is now called Contact and I hope listeners enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the process of my imagination conjuring up this particular Survivors' adventure in the first place.

 

Big Finish - Survivors - Series three - cast

 


Survivors: series nine

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

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"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)