A hitchhiker's guide to Survivors

By Rich Cross   Last updated on 27 December 2020, 09:07:35

An academic treatment of the politics of Survivors

Abby is shocked and appalled in Survivors episode Gone Away

AN INTERESTING - IF frequently contentious - analysis of the implicit and explicit social, moral and political themes of Survivors features in British Science Fiction Television: A Hitch-Hiker's Guide, published by I B Tauris.

This guide is the fourth entry in the 'Popular Television Genres' series, primarily intended 'for use on television and media studies courses' but designed to provide "informed and accessible reading for scholars students and general readers alike."

The chapter "Everyday life in the post-catastrophe future: Terry Nation's Survivors" has been written by Andy Sawyer, librarian of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection of the University of Liverpool Library.

 Core themes

The work does not offer any new archival evidence or original interviews with any of the show's stars or creators, but does provide a thoughtful new interpretation of the series' core themes and preoccupations.

Sawyer attempts to situate Nation's work within the wider canon of post-apocalyptic literature, as well as amongst its televisual forebears and contemporaries. He also looks at the political and social context in which Nation devised the series, scrutinising, in particular, the emergence of the green, ecological and commune movements, and their influence on the development and evolution of the programme.

Sawyer goes on to examine how such issues as wealth, power, security, class and gender are articulated in the programme's storylines, looking in particular at the moral and political messages he discerns in the episodes of all three series.

 Unexpected analysis

Sawyer provides an often unexpected and provocative analysis of Survivors, but his reading is well argued and entertaining throughout. He concludes his account by suggesting that following the events of series three finale Power, viewers "seem not to be offered much hope for the future of post-industrial society."

Other chapters in the guide offer studies of Blake's 7, Quatermass, The Uninvited, Invasion: Earth, The Last Train, The War Game, The Day After, Threads, and, of course, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, alongside several others.

John R Cook and Peter Wright (eds). 2006. British Science Fiction Television: A Hitchhiker's Guide. London: I B Taurus. ISBN 1-84511-048-X (pb).

Front cover of British Science Fiction Television: A Hitchhiker's Guide
Front cover of British Science Fiction Television: A Hitchhiker's Guide

Cite this web page
11 May 2021202131 January

 Cross, R. (2021). 'A hitchhiker's guide to Survivors,' [online] Survivors: A World Away, 31 January. Available at: https://www.survivors-mad-dog.org.uk/a-world-away/Survivors_Hitch_Hikers.php. Accessed on: 11 May 2021.


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 Site sections

Terry Nation's Survivors

 Survivors is a 38-episode, three series British post-apocalyptic TV series, created by Terry Nation, and first shown on BBC 1 between 1975 and 1977

 Two Survivors novel were published in the UK, USA and Italy in the seventies: Terry Nation's part-novelisation of the first TV series Survivors was published in 1976; with John Eyers' original follow-up Genesis of a Hero appearing the following year

 A 12-episode, two series remake of Survivors was broadcast on BBC One between 2008 and 2010

 A 36-episode, nine series run of new and original Survivors audio adventures, set in the time and place of the original programme, were released by Big Finish between 2014 and 2019

 Terry Nation's Survivors novel was released as an audiobook, voiced by Carolyn Seymour, in 2014

 Genesis of a Hero was reprinted and republished as a paperback and as a Kindle title in 2015

 A sequel to Genesis of a Hero, entitled Survivors: Salvation, was published in February 2021

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