Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
Jenny and Ruth travel aboard a train brought back into operation by Greg, but their destination will be nothing like they expect
THE TIRELESS EFFORTS of Greg Preston have opened up a a key steam railway route across England; a route that Jenny Richards and Ruth Anderson are now following en route to the community of Retworth. Both women are involved in a barter programme that will see their expertise exchanged for supplies from Retworth's impressive stores. To re-open the line, Greg recruited fellow engineer and train driver Neville who brought the locomotive back into service. As they cleared obstructions on the track, the two men encounter a gruesome sight: a gang torturing victims. They rescue a terrified young woman facing a slow and painful execution, Sylvia Jeffries, who later becomes Neville's partner. The head of the Retworth settlement, a self-assured and single-minded man named Barstow boards the train and persuades Greg to redirect his train to his well-stocked headquarters. Greg is feted as something of a hero at Retworth, but as he learns the truth of the cruelty and brutality of Barstow’s rule he sabotages Barstow’s plans to annexe and enslave other communities by blowing up his locomotive to seal the access train tunnel, hampering Retworth's ability to enforce its will on the outside world. As Jenny and Ruth reach Retworth, to honour the agreement struck by their communities, what will they make of what they find, and what are the motives of their travelling companions Neville and Sylvia?
THE TRIUMPH OF Simon Clark's series seven story "Legacy" is the inventiveness of the structure. Clark sets out to reconnect the timelines of Greg Preston and Jenny Richards and construct a story that can involve both these characters without them meeting up. Not only does he achieve that, but he finds a way to have Greg deliver to Jenny an emotional affirmation of the importance of his relationship with Jenny and his family, and their centrality as a motivation in everything that he set out to do.
As with Roland Moore's "Journey's End", there a strong sense in "Legacy" that, three to four years on from The Death, the situation for survivors in the UK is getting worse rather than better. The exchange deal that Ruth has agreed with Retworth has been brokered because that settlement's warehouses hold resources and materials that are in perilously short supply and that the Whitecross community needs so urgently.
Legacy stockpiles of materials have been amassed by rapacious, power-hungry entrepreneurs like Barstow
The clear implication of these developments is that the drive towards self-sufficiency and sustainability in the lives of British survivors has so far fallen short of what is required. They are still reliant, at least in part, it seems, on the legacy stockpiles of the pre-Death era, which have been amassed by rapacious, power-hungry entrepreneurs like Barstow.
Stream trains were a recurring feature of the third TV series of Survivors. Telegenic in their own right, the image of coal-powered, steam-driven pistons driving locomotive engines along reopened train tracks offered a potent visual symbol of the new industrial age that the most prescient survivors were now committed to bringing into being. In "Legacy", the motion of the steam train makes for a satisfyingly rhythmic and percussive audio setting; underpinning the sense of motion and momentum in the story; and providing a convincing and unforced way to connect Greg's and Jenny's journeys to the same destination that occur weeks or months apart.
There are some fantastic, tense action sequences, which McCulloch understandably continues to relish; and some evocatively realised grotesque and grim audio images (particularly in the run-up to the rescue of terrified Sylvia Jeffries, who is facing a horrible death).
Jenny finds herself thrust into an unusual and far from comfortable role
Sound design is particularly effective in "Legacy", not least in the changing 'texture' of dialogue, as speeches move between real-time discussion and taped playback as the timeline of the story flips between the recent past and the present.
Greg's abilities to deliver improvements to the lives of others and inspire fellow survivors to raise their own sense of ambition is reaffirmed in this story. Jenny finds herself thrust into an unusual and far from comfortable role: that of rabble-rouser and catalyst for rebellion at Retworth. She is the figure who can call on the symbolism that Greg represents to encourage the wavering rebels to rise up and complete the overthrow of the Barstow tyranny.
After all of the febrile action sequences of the rebellion, it is the quiet intimacy of Greg's taped message to Jenny that provides a heartfelt (and far from mawkish) finale: a personal 'legacy' for Jenny to take comfort from, that can exist for her alongside the larger, public figure of Greg as a leader and catalyst for the revival of civilisation and society. It remains unclear what role Greg Preston might play in future Big Finish Survivors adventures but, if this episode marks Greg’s endpoint in the audio realm, the storyline of "Legacy" gives his character an impressive and emotionally resonant sign-off.
AS WELL AS celebrating the character of Greg, writer Simon Clark's story also provides plenty of emotional turmoil for Lucy Fleming's Jenny, who is forced to confront her feelings of grief and abandonment
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User
HAS A SLIGHTLY Mad Max / steampunk feel as Jenny gets one of her strongest stories as she and Ruth are faced with several difficult decisions.
Tony Jones, Cultbox
IT'S A STORY that manages to eulogise the character [of Greg] without being blind to his flaws
Alasdair Stuart, Sci-Fi Bulletin
JENNY IS THRUST into the unexpected role of rabble-rouser, calling on the inspiring legacy of Greg to encourage a rebellion
Rich Cross, Starburst
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