Updated: June 21 2022 07:35
A group of religious nomads challenge not only the moral beliefs of those living at The Grange but the very survival of the fledgling settlement...
A GROUP OF wandering religious devotees arrive seeking sanctuary at The Grange. One of their number Lionel has the medical skills necessary to tend to an injured John. A grateful Abby and Greg agree to provide the travellers with accommodation and the opportunity to try out living at The Grange. Tensions emerge when the group’s spiritual leader Nathan expresses stern criticisms of the way that the settlement is run, and the lack of religious conviction guiding its work. Nathan’s strict patriarchal views challenge the positions of Abby and Jenny, and begin to destabilise the running of The Grange. Even more troubling for both Greg and Abby is Nathan’s interest in uncovering the history of crime and punishment in the settlement, and the secrets that surround it. As Greg’s patience nears breaking point, the community learns from the residents of Little Barton of an arson attack that destroyed a settlement to the north. The attackers were a pair of lone travellers, who may since have been scoping out Little Barton, but whose affiliations are unknown. It seems possible they could be connected to the intolerant and fundamentalist religious cult now in residence at The Grange. When The Grange is rocked by an appalling new crime, the settlement is gripped by suspicion and accusations, and the rift between the established residents and the new arrivals worsens. Greg and Abby find their position undermined as The Grange succumbs to an orchestrated putsch. Now outcasts from the settlement that they founded, Abby and Greg must rally support from neighbouring communities and build an alliance that can return to The Grange and oust the religious usurpers, by force of arms if needs be. But it’s a high-risk strategy that could end in failure and the deaths of many of those involved. With everything they have built now in jeopardy, do Abby and Greg have any choice but to try...
SURVIVORS AUDIOBOOK CRUSADE returns the spotlight to The Grange settlement, rejoining the action shortly after the tragic events of Law and Order. The drama unfolds amidst the closing stories of series one when the original triumvirate of the show's leading characters were still working alongside eachother to secure a future for their fledgling community. Crusade is an immersive and thought-provoking listen, that offers both unsettling moral conundrums and high-stakes action and adventure - and all to equally winning effect.
What's made immediately clear is that author Doris V. Sutherland has immersed herself in the timeline, plot points and rhythms of the 1975 series of Survivors. Sutherland's prose is steeped in the established Survivors TV canon, and numerous series one events (up to and including the mis-trial and execution of Barney) are referenced throughout the Crusade storyline. This attention to continuity is stitched-in in a way that feels like a natural complement to the plot, rather than something shoehorned-in in an attempt to "please fans". What's also really gratifying is that so many of The Grange's ensemble of residents are drawn into the action as the crisis develops and given some genuine, authentic-sounding agency.
Religious conviction is a theme that surfaces time and again in Survivors
When visitors arrived at The Grange in the TV incarnation of Survivors, there was typically a latent tension between the new arrivals and the established residents, which were later thrown into sharp relief as previously hidden intentions were exposed. There's something of a homage to that approach in Crusade - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. In the case of Crusade the source of that friction is the increasingly toxic behaviour of a group of Christian fundamentalists.
Religious conviction and the belief in a higher spiritual power is a theme that surfaces time and again across the three series of the original TV version of Survivors. Whether it's the quiet theistic certainties of the religious hermits of Gone to the Angels; Lewis' reconnection to his abandoned faith in By Bread Alone; or the stoic community that has converted to Hinduism in The Peacemaker, it's clear that the resilience (or irrelevance) of a belief in an omnipotent god has intrigued many Survivors scriptwriters.
Religious devotees in Survivors can be benign and non-prescriptive (Lewis refuses to stand in judgement over anyone else at Whitecross) or manipulative and intolerant (as in the case of the isolationist cult revealed in The Chosen). So fruitful a theme is the use and abuse of religious faith that it resurfaced in the first series of the BBC's remake of Survivors. It is a subject that has also featured in several of the full-cast Big Finish Survivors audios, including New Blood (in which a resurgence of folk religion embraces the idea of human sacrifice) and For the Good of the Cause (in which a false prophet hides his megalomania beneath a veneer of cod-mysticism).
Mining some similar themes, the story beats of Crusade are different from the familiar (and very effective) Nation tropes that shape many of the series one TV storylines. As narrator Carolyn Seymour affirms in the brief self-interview that wraps up the audiobook, Survivors: Crusade offers a style of storytelling confident to adopt its own rhythm. Had this story come from Nation's typewriter, the high-stakes armed standoff at The Grange would have begun a couple of hundred pages earlier in the novel. In contrast, Sutherland takes time to flesh out and explore the defining conflicts of the plot: the relationship between religious observance, morality and faith in the post-Death world, and the tensions between personal freedom, social organisation and religious zealotry.
This means that the first two-thirds of the book are paced differently to the action-and-adventure motifs of the previous Survivors audiobook Ghosts and Demons. Which again is no bad thing. Such diversity is all to the good.
What makes the philosophical and existential discussions of Crusade all the more interesting, is Sutherland's decision to explore the implications for Abby and Greg of the wrongful death of Barney. On TV, the residents of The Grange are never shown learning the awful truth of Tom Price's guilt and Barney's innocence in the shocking killing of Wendy. By the time of Ian McCulloch's sniper story A Friend in Need in series two, Jenny and others at Whitecross have "become aware" of their part in Barney's execution - a shocking discovery that has occurred off-screen.
Sutherland takes time to flesh out and explore the defining conflicts of the plot
In Crusade, the pious and pitiless cult leader Nathan discovers enough of the dark secrets of the trial to undermine Abby's and Greg's sense of their own supposedly superior (but arguably painfully compromised) moral code. It's a very effective narrative device that concludes with a cleverly judged callback to the events of Wendy's murder.
As well as religious zealotry, there's a cruelty and vindictiveness at the core of the brotherhood's belief system. Their intolerance and their bigoted, sexist worldview are proudly evangelised by their leaders. Most repellant of all is their refusal to acknowledge that others may hold agnostic or atheist beliefs and choose to organise themselves in more human-centred ways that the rigid devotees dislike. All of this Sutherland brings to life with chilling believability.
Once the cult's subterfuge corrodes and the stand-off at The Grange gets underway, Seymour makes good play of the rising tension and growing sense of peril in Sutherland's edgy prose. Victims of a carefully planned and executed eviction, Greg, Abby and their allies are forced to launch a bid to take back control of The Grange in a way that feels authentic and unpredictable.
Seymour's narration is, as everyone familiar with her work on audio would expect, exemplary - as perceptive and mellifluous as ever. Seymour is well known for her meticulous preparation ahead of studio sessions which, together with her evident talent and her love for the spoken word form, produce another stand-out performance.
Crusade succeeds as a very different Survivors' audiobook experience to Nation's rethought novelisation from 1976 and to 2021's Ghosts and Demons. This astute, cautionary tale of the threat that distorted religious certainty can pose to the survivors of The Death is the kind of grown-up and probing storytelling for which the series' setting is so conducive.
CRUSADE IS ANOTHER excellent, thought-provoking addition to the Survivors range and well worth enjoying across its almost six-hour runtime.
Ian McArdell, IndieMacUser
An original narrated Survivors audiobook, narrated by Carolyn Seymour, is available to buy as a digital download from Big Finish.
"This astute, cautionary tale of the threat that distorted religious certainty can pose to the survivors of The Death is the kind of grown-up and probing storytelling for which the series' setting is so conducive... Seymour's narration is... as perceptive and mellifluous as ever."
Survivors: A World Away
The second series of this new Survivors audio adventure is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"The New Dawn series has been a compelling, well-executed foray into a 'future' post-pandemic Britain never before attempted in the Survivors universe. Big Finish regularly jumps around within and beyond the established canon of TV series in its range, and that option would remain open in the world of Survivors. Who knows what will come next? If New Dawn 2 marks the end of Survivors journey on audio, then that will mean that an accomplished, inventive and assured series concludes with a remarkable and satisfying endpoint."
Survivors: A World Away
The original narrated Survivors audiobook, narrated by Carolyn Seymour, is available to buy as a digital download from Big Finish.
"Ghosts and Demons is a fantastic addition to the audio literature of Survivors. Author Ethan Milsea uses the cautionary tale of the predatory Tommy as a means to explore the different fears and nightmares that haunt those who have experienced the trauma of The Death and survived. This story, which locks itself in to the first TV series' timeline, delivers admirably on what can often be an elusive ambition: to be both in-keeping with the existing dramatic terrain and to break open new and fertile ground."
Survivors: A World Away
The first series of this new Survivors audio adventure is available to buy (in CD and download formats) from Big Finish.
"The first series of New Dawn retains the core sense of jeopardy that made the original post-Death context of Survivors so compelling. Yet it does in a way that is original and genuinely exhilarating. Imagining how the country might have moved on more than two decades after the pandemic provides Survivors with a new 'what if' premise that crackles with potential"
Survivors: A World Away
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 "
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"
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"
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"
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"
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.
Review of Crusade audiobook addedAdded: 21 June 2022
New Dawn 2 reviews addedAdded: 02 March 2022
Series nine reviews addedAdded: 13 July 2019