Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
When Abby visits a prison complex, she finds a new brutal penal code is enforced and discovers an unexpected inmate
TRAVELLING ALONG A country lane on horseback, Abby Grant meets Alan Kelly who is manning a roadblock outside the settlement of Peacetown. When Alan is injured by a pack of wild dogs, Abby patches him up and they head to the prison complex at the heart of Peacetown. They are greeted by the hospitable Sasha Flint, who offers Abby the chance to rest and recover. Abby consider a prison to be an unlikely focal point for a community of survivors, but she is outraged to discover that inmates are being held in some of the cells. Overruling all objections, she demands to see for herself and is shocked to discover the conditions in which inmates are being kept. She is all the more surprised to discover Greg Preston amongst their number, being held on spurious theft charges. When Greg departs on a forced labour detail, Abby meets the formidable prison governor Brendan Glover. He is unapologetic about the methods of justice and punishment that Peacetown has adopted. Abby is determined to find and to free Greg, but by the time she has located him he has already organised his own escape. As the pair try to leave the district, they are detained by a Peacetown search posse led by Glover loyalist Dan Lacey, and returned to the jail. Greg faces a brutal punishment and Abby will be put on trial in a case presided over by Glover. Doubts about Glover's rule are growing, and residents including Sasha and Alan are now willing to stand up and demand change. But provoking Glover is dangerous and could end in disaster. What will become of those who challenge Glover and what fate awaits Abby and Greg in the forbidding cells of Peacetown?
THE PUNCH THE air moment of Andrew Smith's tautly-plotted tale of imprisonment, deception and immorality is, of course, the unexpected (and never before suggested) reunion of Abby Grant and Greg Preston, both separately 'missing in action' by this point in the canon of the TV series: he suspected of succumbing to smallpox on his return from Norway (The Last Laugh), she presumed lost in the desolate wastlelands of north London after leaving Manny's settlement to resume her hunt for her son Peter (Lights of London). Following on from the near-miss motifs of series five (especially Abby being turned away from the quarantined Whitecross in Angel of Death), it's a joyous reunion that does not challenge the known elements of the TV storyline, but as entirely befits the world of Survivors, it's one that takes place in the context of an acute crisis that puts that reconnection in immediate jeopardy.
What initially appears to be a benign survivors' residence is soon revealed to be something very different
Like the opening episode of series six, "Lockup" is a 'community' episode, which takes as its premise the arrival of a regular character at a previously unseen settlement. It also has echoes of earlier 'community' episodes in Big Finish's own canon, including series two's Mother's Courage, and series four's For the Good of the Cause (both penned by Louise Jameson), in that what initially appears to be a benign survivors' residence is soon revealed to be something very different: a community guided by a malformed political and philosophical code.
Scriptwriter Andrew Smith's previous career in law enforcement equips him with the knowledge, and the familiarity with the subject matter, necessary to produce a convincing prison tale. Smith's series three script Rescue which focuses on the thuggish villainy of Vinnie Vincent, emphasises his view that many survivors will be willing to follow a leader with a clear sense of vision and purpose, whatever their misgivings. It's an idea that he returns to, in a different guise, here, as the residents of the ironically-titled 'Peacetown' settlement swallow their doubts and misgivings in return for the security offered under leader Brendan Glover's rule. It's an excellent launching point for a well executed story, and the oppressive claustrophobia of the prison makes for a first-rate location.
The extent to which 'Peacetown' rest on the lie of the 'rule of law' and of 'just punishment' only becomes apparent once Abby, in a typically bull-headed moment, burst into the cell block to assess conditions for herself. What she discovers (the dank cells, the whipping post, the denial of food, the forced labour parties) is for Abby immediate evidence that 'Peacetown' relies on a regime of cruel and unusual punishment, and not a new and equitable penal code.
A series of decisive confrontations expose the hidden secrets of Glover's rule
Even though this is an episode that reunites the pair, it seems fitting that for the majority of the time their travails unfold in parallel. Greg first pushes his luck against the guards of his hard labour crew, and then escapes from their clutches; while Abby rallies support to challenge Glover's brutal regime. Even when the two are briefly reunited, after Abby catches up with the new escapee, they are quickly separated once more: with Greg returned to the cells, and Abby now facing trial.
In many ways, this leaves both of them in their element: Greg is able to raise a rebellion in the cell block and lead a charge for freedom; while Abby (aided by the disaffected Sasha) tries her oratorical and persuasive courtroom skills to embarrass and isolate the over-confident Glover.
While Smith makes some time for characters to reflect on the nature of punishment, justice and the place of accountability in the enforcement of a legal code, this is very much a story driven by action motifs. A series of decisive confrontations expose the hidden secrets of Glover's rule and hold open the possibility of a better, and a more just and reasonable, tomorrow for the residents of 'Peacetown'.
Lockup brings to a close the standalone adventures of series six in fine style, a series that has shown just how well Survivors can thrive on audio without the support of an overarching story arc. Listeners are left with the enticing possibility that Greg and Abby may now join forces in the hunt for Peter in the next series, as the Big Finish audios move beyond the timeline of the final TV episode Power. Freeing itself from the framework of the television canon, the drama of Survivors is about to become fully unlocked.
DESPITE THE SITUATION, it is brilliant to hear these characters reconnect... this feels like a genuine treat.
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the inherent conservatism of the past and the hard working community spirit of the future is brought out through a closing speech that Carolyn Seymour delivers perfectly.
Alasdair Stuart, Sci-Fi Bulletin
A FINAL SHOWDOWN will decide the future of "Peacetown" and the legal framework that governs it, in a fraught and satisfying endpoint for the set.
Rich Cross, Starburst
ABBY GRANT HAS never been better... and Greg plays the hero with authority... a born leader who us reluctant to be cast in that role but a role circumstances have forced him to take on.
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