Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
In Norway, Greg Preston is recruited to a hostage rescue mission that demands a challenging race across the country
IN NORWAY, AGNES and Jack are away on a foraging trip while Greg waits in his secure compound for a signal from the Federation. When English émigré Katherine Tanner arrives, escaping the marauding wolf pack closing in on her, she brings news of a change of plan. The pair are to travel an isolated research laboratory to free a kidnapped scientist named Valentina Roskova who it is claimed has developed something called "Revenge of Heaven", a serum that will provide the uninfected with immunity to The Death plague. But the kidnappers, lead by the suave Pierre, have changed their plans, and are now headed to the Norwegian coast en route to Poland. Greg and Katherine begin a treacherous, high-risk journey by hydrogen balloon, but after Greg is injured, and the craft drifts into Sweden, they crash land when icy weather conditions force them from the sky. On the ground, local Federation supporters provide vital intelligence about the changed destination of Pierre's group, and Greg and Katherine set off in pursuit: this time by dog sled. When they catch up with Pierre's party, they improvise a rescue mission that might save Valentina and the precious vials of the cure. But freeing the scientist will only be the start of a life-and-death struggle to escape Pierre's clutches. Can the three make their way safely through the snow-strewn peaks and dense woodlands of Sweden to ensure that the "Revenge of Heaven" is made available to the world?
A RIP-ROARING ADVENTURE in the remote and icy setting of the Nordic mountains, Simon Clark's Revenge of Heaven presents a convincing, and highly inventive, account of Greg Preston's travails in northern Europe, as he and his compatriots try to put into effect the bold prescriptions of Carlsson's plan and facilitate the revival of Norway and its neighbours.
The frisson that Clark adds to the already high stakes of the piece is the revelation of a serum that could potentially provide immunity to the Death virus for those not yet infected, putting an end to the existence of 'no-go' areas (and, were it to be true, offering the hope of salvation for those living on the Hertsby estate and their ilk, who would no longer need to accept isolation from the world as the price of survival).
Katherine Tanner is another forceful and persuasive woman to enter Greg's life
What is so exciting about the setting for Clark's story is that Greg's experiences in Norway are explored so little in the third Survivors TV series. Aside from rare comments from the man himself, and a few second-hand anecdotes from Charles Vaughan, little is known about Preston's Norwegian exploits. In Revenge of Heaven, Clark takes an enticing premise, and through it paints a far fuller picture of the reality of post-Death life in northern Europe.
It's clear that, although Norway desperately needs more skilled personnel to push forward the drive for reconstruction, re-organisation and the rebuilding of the rudiments of a social and economic infrastructure (including a dog-sled postal service) has advanced further there than has yet proved possible in the UK. It's evident that the new federation that has now emerged in Norway is able to command support and extend its reach across the country: Greg has been following the directives of the federation and awaiting their next instruction before his unexpected visitor arrives.
It is a real thrill for fans of Survivors to hear the unmistakable tones of Julie Graham back again in the the world of Survivors, joining Zoë Tapper as the second alumni of the 2008-2010 BBC TV Survivors remake to transition to the audio incarnation of the original show (although, short of a major plot twist, their two characters are unlikely to meet at present). Graham's character Katherine Tanner is another forceful and persuasive woman to enter Greg's life, and while Greg insists that his motivations for helping her in the federation's quest is the future of his own family back in Britain, it's notable that once again Greg is pushed into action by a passionate and driven female in his life.
The episode delivers a plausible sense of a harsh and unforgiving climate
The idea that the "Revenge of Heaven" could conceivably be an antidote to the Death plague gives the cross-country adventure that Greg and Katherine embark on huge importance, and the urgency of the journey provides an additional dramatic twist to the well-scripted and extremely well-rendered action sequences that Clark and director Bentley together deliver.
Alex Blake is hugely entertaining as the smooth and mercantile Pierre, the hard-nosed kidnapper of the unimaginably valuable professor. Tracy Wiles delivers a first-rate performance as the feisty and strong-willed virologist Valentina Raskova. As the protagonists race to secure Raskova and control the consequences of her irreplaceable scientific and medical knowledge, the episode succeeds in delivering a plausible sense of space and of distance, and of a harsh and unforgiving climate. Much credit for this must go to Benji Clifford's immersive sound design, which conjures up a sense of place so effectively.
The tense finale throws different allegiances into doubt, and as different stand-offs reach breaking point, reveals a hidden truth about the nature of the "Revenge of Heaven" serum. This ensures that events end with a surprising twist and an even more unexpected agreement. With Ian McCulloch relishing the role of "all-action Greg" throughout, this is a hugely successful episode that offers great excitement, thrilling set pieces and a remorseless sense of danger in which the outcome remains uncertain to the last. As he lifted off gently in a hot air balloon from Whitecross the previous summer, Greg Preston could not have imagined that the spectre of heaven's revenge would be one of the things that awaited him on the ice-strapped far shores of the North Sea.
CLARK IS A consistently inventive writer, and the merciless icy setting of the Nordic mountains provides a magnificent background for an energetic, action-packed tale of the kidnap-and-rescue of an individual who could be humanity's saviour
Rich Cross, Starburst
THIS IS SURVIVORS as 24, Greg and Katherine tearing across the county in a balloon to try to rescue the scientist.
Alasdair Stuart, Sci-Fi Bulletin
THE MOST ACTION based episode of Survivors I have heard, almost a blockbuster in its production and tone
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas
WRITER SIMON CLARK throws everything at the pair, from wolves and thugs, to airborne dramas and a huskie ride courtesy of Sweden's resurgent postal service; it has the relentless feel of an action movie
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User
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