Home > Production > Ken Bentley (writer/director)
Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
Compared to most of the plays I've directed for Big Finish, Survivors is straighter, darker, and more truthful.
How does Survivors differ from the type of drama that listeners are more used to hearing from Big Finish productions?
It's 'straighter' drama – that's probably the best way of thinking about it. All the way through, therefore, everybody has a slightly different responsibility – from who I communicate with the actors; the type of performance the actors are giving; the work that's going to be done in post-production. It will all be different because of that. But it's not anything that I would say is unusual territory for any of us; because we've all come from a theatrical and dramatic background. We've all worked in theatre and various other disciplines, and the actors have got experience of television, film, theatre – all sorts of things. They’re always bringing that experience in with them. They've all worked on a very, very broad range of storytelling. As much as we at Big Finish work very much in a sci-fi world, they've done all sorts of stuff; so when they come in they're not bringing that 'sci-fi baggage', if you like, they’re bringing in all that understanding of drama and of storytelling: straight drama and serious plays.
What parts of the sound texture of Survivors are distinctive?
Our hero for this series, a journalist named Daniel Connor, played by John Banks, in a move that's probably quite progressive for the time, is recording the stories he wants to tell. He’s out in the field recording interviews with people, and using the technology of the time. Now we're all used to MP3 players, mobile phones – all this wonderful technology that you can record things on now. Back then, you were lucky if you had access to a reel-to-reel tape recorder. For us, it serves our purposes on audio incredibly well, because it's a very specific sound – the clunk and hiss of a reel-to-reel tape mechanism. As soon as people hear something like that it instantly puts them into the period.
Working with Big Finish, I get to blow up planets one minute, and then to work with this moving, powerful, devastating stuff the nextKen Bentley
Will the dramatic pace of Survivors on audio be similar to that of the original TV series?
The one thing that we've learnt on these audios is that we can't leave the listener hanging on for too long because they don't have a visual to hang on to. If we're giving them something that's audio but non-verbal it's got to be very specific, something that they can follow, something that they can understand, something with which they can create the image for themselves. But you can only let that go for so long before you’ve got to deliver something. And with action sequences – because we don't have the visual desolation the TV series had, you’ve got to find other ways of giving the same impression of a world in ruins.
Your enthusiasm for this project is impossible to miss. Are you enjoying yourself?
Yes, I am! I just love telling stories. I got into this to tell stories. One of the lovely things about working with Big Finish is being able to tell so many stories of so many different types. That’s what’s been great this year, in particular: that we've got so many different ranges coming out. I'm a big fan of contrast in drama. Contrast always works. Survivors is a great example of contrast – you’ve got a global pandemic, and yet we’re focusing on the stories of these individuals. Simple contrasts like that work a treat. Working with Big Finish, I get to blow up planets one minute, and then to work with this moving, powerful, devastating stuff the next.
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