Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
What fate will the survivors meet as the pandemic reaches its peak, and who will judged responsible?
ELSIE, A YOUNG resident of Brook Farm, is fishing; when she meets a haggard looking solitary traveller named Carol. When Greg and Jenny learn from Elsie that Carol said she was heading home, they set off for Maythorne. Another group of hunters also pick up the same lead. Greg and Jenny confront Carol at Maythorne, insisting that she accept incarceration at Whitecross as the only option open to her. She refuses, until hunters led by Patrick arrive; a group with no interest in mercy. As they continue their quest, Evelyn agrees to accompany Abby on a return visit to Peter's school. There they find evidence of a group having taken up residence, and learn, through the journal of a dead girl, of the harrowing story of the community's treatment of the sick. Greg and Jenny flee Maythorne with Carol, with Patrick's team giving chase. After Jenny and Carol are cornered, Greg summons a rescue party from Brook Farm. With Carol's fate now hanging in the balance, Abby and Evelyn catch up with the ailing doctor Woodley and discover the truth of the new virus' impact. Will the 'angel of death' be brought to account for the devastation that she has wrought; and can the communities of England recover from this latest deadly infection...?
ANDREW SMITH RETURNS to writing duties to bring the story of Survivors fifth series of Big Finish audio adventures to an impressive conclusion, as the contagion threatens to reach the point of no return, while the net begins to tighten around carrier Carol. While Greg and Jenny take centre stage in the pursuit of "The Angel of Death", Abby and Evelyn experience adventures of their own; involving a harrowing trip to Peter Grant's old school and a more uplifting encounter with the ailing doctor John Woodley.
Brook Farm appears to be another community where the principles of reasonableness and decency hold sway. Their quarantine methods echo those known to be in place at Whitecross, and their willingness to mobilise their forces to protect others, even at risk to themselves, shows their sense of wider societal responsibility.
A competing sense of appropriate justice puts Greg and Jenny into irreconcilable conflict with Patrick's group
As Greg and Jenny track Carol down in the abandoned environs of Maythorne, she resists their more than reasonable offer of indefinite sanctuary (albeit in isolation) at Whitecross. Effectively, Carol's punishment would be a civilised form of solitary confinement; and for her it is a far more preferable outcome than all of the more likely alternatives. The question remains as to whether this is too lenient a sentence for someone directly responsible for the deaths of so many innocent survivors. The alternative judgement awaiting Carol is both merciless and driven by a sense of vengeance. Now that Springton's hardened former-traveller Patrick is revealed to have survived his knifing by the murderous Carol, he and his associates are in no mood to show restraint. It is this competing sense of appropriate justice that puts Greg and Jenny into irreconcilable conflict with Patrick's group and which forces them into an unanticipated alliance with Carol (the aim of which is to deliver her unharmed to a stockade at Whitecross where she can be safely held).
While the drama of the chase that will settle Carol's fate provides the episode strong and atmospheric action sequences (including an effective night time stopover in a tower "folly", during which Carol almost reveals her responsibility for the death of Hannah, which ends in a dramatic early morning rescue), the trajectory of Evelyn's and Abby's storyline is all the more unexpected.
Returning to Peter Grant's school in the faint hope of discovering something new about his whereabouts, Abby and Evelyn stumble open the horrific story of the callous mistreatment of a group of infected youngsters, who are sealed up within a building at the school and left to die. One of their number records her experiences in the page of a diary, which Abby uncovers and recites passages from to Evelyn. This is a remarkably effective dramatic device, through which Abby becomes the narrator for the shocking and distressing end-of-life story of a group whose own fate would never have been known if the school had remained abandoned and neglected (as this group of young survivors themselves were).
While the deliberations of the Brook Farm group endorse Greg's and Jenny's plan for Carol's imprisonment, she again demonstrates a selfish determination for independence that leads to her undoing. Although Evelyn reaches her before Patrick’s posse track her down, Evelyn calls for clemency and mercy count for nothing in the face of Patrick's rage, grief and desire for retribution. When Smith scripts that Carol is mown down under the hooves of his Patrick's horsemen, it is not difficult to see the canonical metaphor being put forward here.
Abby and Evelyn stumble open the horrific story of the callous mistreatment of a group of infected youngsters
As a self-contained piece, the series needs to end with some assurance that the spread of the new plague has been contained and this new variant of the Death has been deprived of new victims through which to propel itself northwards through the communities of England. It is Abby's and Evelyn's encounter with the dying Woodley that provides just such an expert view of the checking of the virus' spread. Although he becomes one of its last known victims, Woodley is able to confirm that this infection has run its deadly course (assuming "The Angel of Death" can be neutralised).
The series ends with Abby departing in pursuit of new leads on Peter's possible location, and with Greg and Jenny able to return to Whitecross in less apprehensive mood. Mindful of the established series' canon, Smith has Abby ask Evelyn not to mention their encounter, so that Jenny and Greg are not distracted by the idea of setting off to find her.
With its wide vistas, layered storylines and compelling central threat, series five of Big Finish's Survivors audio adventures delivers some of the most impressive dramatic conceits yet heard in the series. This is extraordinary dramatic material by any standards, and the confidence that the series' writers and director have in their material shines through each of the stories on offer here.
GREG AND JENNY show more affection towards each other than the puritan Head of Series, Ronnie Marsh, ever allowed a pre-watershed series to show in the mid-seventies.
Michael Seely, We Are Cult
IT'S A TOUGH listen and one that ends with closure but no neatness. This is a hard world and the characters that survive have been reminded of that.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFiBulletin
A VERY DIFFICULT listen and completely morally ambiguous, do we hate Carol, do we pity her, do we agree with the horsemen? It is up to the listener - but whatever you think the ending will stay with you a long time after the closing credits.
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas
NOW IN ITS fifth series, Survivors has become progressively grim and unforgiving as its main players desperately try to adjust to life in a world where the old rules just don’t apply and all that really matters is survival
Tim Cundle, Mass Movement
AMONG A STRONG guest cast, Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who's Madame Vastra) shines as the embittered Carol as we follow her desperate descent into deceit and murder, in her own quest for survival
Ian Mcardell, Cultbox
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