Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
Recovering from a fever, Molly confides to Dalton how she found herself trapped on a ferry as the plague struck, and at the mercy of an unexpected new ship's captain...
EN ROUTE TO a reunion with Abby Grant in central London, Molly falls ill with a fever. While she is looked after by her travelling companion Dalton Roberts, he encourages her to recount her traumatic experiences from the time of The Death's onset. She recalls how she and her friend Janet found themselves stuck on a passenger ferry quarantined in the English Channel as the plague ravaged Europe. After the captain falls victim to the virus, many of the crew abandon the ship (and are killed by the authorities for attempting to breach quarantine) leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. When the leader of gang of football hooligans named 'Vinnie' Vincent steps forward to take advantage of the power vacuum, he begins to introduce the most brutal measures imaginable, putting to death anyone he suspects of being a carrier, and ridding himself of all opponents and challengers to his leadership. After Janet is killed, Molly and another passenger are helped to escape by the sacrifice of her new friend Marcus. But will Vinnie let them reach the shore, and what will Molly discover if she reaches dry land...?
A PERFECTLY-TITLED EPISODE, Cabin Fever revels in the tight claustrophobia of a setting which allows scriptwriter Jonathan Morris to revisit the horrors of the onset of The Death. In its cut-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world intensity, the result is in many ways reminiscent of the original TV series episode "Law and Order". And of all of the Survivors' stories created by Big Finish to date, Cabin Fever is the one which could most readily stand on its own as a single, self-contained drama (if shorn of its timeshifting into and outro).
In this latest series of adventures, Molly moves on from the status of being a supporting character to become a central player in the Survivors audio ensemble. What the audience learns through this opening story is just how harrowing and desperate Molly's experiences have been since the earliest days of the pandemic. The horrors that she experiences here flesh out her back story, but unfold with a further agonising dimension: as the listener is already aware of the the appalling fate first awaiting her when she finally reaches the illusory safety of dry land. Fiona Sheehan's performance of Molly's transition from bewilderment and disbelief; through anguish and fear; to defiance and bravery is completely convincing and expertly delivered throughout.
The story gives a fuller picture of the worsening situation of the plague's onset and the authorities' increasingly desperate efforts to contain it by the quarantine of boats at sea (effectively the inverse of what John Redgrave was tasked with doing at Heathrow, as depicted in series one). The sound design, particularly as the drama unfolds aboard ship, is excellent; and Morris' first script for Big Finish's Survivors range since series one's Exodus is absorbing and well-paced, pushing the story through some unexpected twists and shocking turns as the situation aboard the ferry deteriorates.
The unravelling of life aboard the ferry provides an excellent microcosm of the decimation of the wider world
Cabin Fever provides an impressive (and deeply disturbing) introduction for a character who will become the series' overarching (and contemptible) villain: John 'Vinnie' Vincent, voiced - to insolent and self-righteous perfection - by Paul Thornley. Vinnie is first shown here as the head of a gang of rowdy football fans who only recognises gradually what new opportunities these terrible new circumstances open up for him. Vinnie is a bully and a thug who attempts to paint his prejudices and all-consuming hatred of things different to himself with a wafer-thin veneer of 'politics'.
The unravelling of life aboard the ferry, and the collapse of the fabric of civilisation and decency aboard ship, provides an excellent microcosm of the decimation of the wider world. The authorities on board do communicate with their passengers; attempt to find alternative ports at which to dock; and make some (quickly futile) efforts to manage the growing crisis on board. But the death of the ship's captain can be seen as a metaphor for the disintegration of government in the world beyond the vessel; the mutiny and flight of a section of the crew a representation of the collapse of responsibility in favour of venal self-interest; and the actions of a few selfless passengers as the evocation of the quite heroism that ordinary people are capable of in conditions of extremis.
In retelling the onset of The Death from a new and unusual perspective, Cabin Fever opens the third series of Big Finish's Survivors audio dramas in impressive and unexpected style. This cracking adventure story confirms Molly as a survivor possessed of both determination and courage. During the traumas that she will have to face in the months ahead, she will need to call on both character traits. As the story concludes, it is clear that the reprehensible Vinnie has also survived near-drowning and reached the mainland; and that his ambition now far exceeds that of running a small-time gang of football hooligans. It is Vinnie's megalomania that will provide the central driving force for the remainder of this immediately assured series.
TOLD ALMOST ENTIRELY in flashback, [this episode provides] another new introduction to the Death that swept the nation and an excellent jumping-on point for anybody who has still to give Survivors a try.
J. R. Southall, Starburst
IF THERE'S A worse place to be when a global epidemic breaks out than a city, it's a ship... "Cabin Fever" by Jonathan Morris, shows exactly why.
Tony Fyler, Warped Factor
THIS IS ONE of the strongest episodes of the series so far. Not just because of its clever design, but because its willingness to engage with the time the show took place in.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFi Bulletin
VINNIE IS A man who will not be crossed... He could be just another right wing thug, but the writing and the characterisation raise him to a whole new level of evil.
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas
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.
Series nine reviews addedAdded: 13 July 2019
Series eight reviews addedAdded: 9 January 2019
Series seven reviews addedAdded: 14 January 2018
Series six reviews addedAdded: 12 July 2017
Series five reviews addedAdded: 20 December 2016
Series four reviews addedAdded: 26 June 2016
Series three reviews addedAdded: 18 December 2015
New interviews addedAdded: 21 November 2015