Survivors: Review: Big Finish Audio 1.4: Esther

Survivors-EstherHow will Greg and Jenny escape from Gillison’s clutches – and can they persuade others to join them?

Note – this review contains spoilers for the whole Big Finish Survivors range.

John Dorney has the job of tying up some of the loose ends in this final story for now from Terry Nation’s bleak post-apocalyptic universe and provides a tale which is likely to have you shouting at your iPod as the sheer horror of what is unfolding becomes clear. I’ve praised both Adrian Lukis’ performance and the writing of the character of Gillison previously, but here they’re taken to a new level – it’s a real shame that the necessities of the story mean that we won’t be able to meet him again (although there’s presumably nothing at all to stop the team from filling in something of the six months during which Gillison controlled Feltham post-outbreak: we know what he did to Sayed, Susie and Redgrave – who else fell victim during that time? Just a thought.)

Each of the stories has taken its name from a book of the Bible, and this is an intriguing twist on that not particularly well-known tale: Dorney adds in a very Nation-esque reworking of another key moment from a different series for the climax, which leaves us once again with some of the main characters introduced by Big Finish no longer able to participate. I’d certainly liked to have had more from Camilla Power’s Fiona, as well as Terry Molloy’s John Redgrave (let alone those introduced and killed off in the opening episode.)

Power and Lukis’ scenes are some of the best in the entire series, and Louise Jameson also excels as Jackie Burchall – her actions in this story are entirely in keeping with everything set up, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story takes her and John Banks’ Daniel. Keep listening after the closing theme music: there’s a long scene featuring the original cast which works on two levels – for those who only know Survivors through this box set, and for those of us who know what is in store for Abby, Greg and Jenny… It’s been a treat to hear Carolyn Seymour, Ian McCulloch and Lucy Fleming recreate their roles, and this time around, the latter two have been given some new facets to play.

There’s been a lot of talk about this being the best thing that Big Finish has ever done, and I would agree: there are comments in the CD extras from the cast praising not just the quality of the scripts, but also the fact that they feel polished. Producer David Richardson has done a sterling job, not just in assembling the cast and crew, but also overseeing the creative side of the range, with Matt Fitton, Ken Bentley and all the writers (Jonathan Morris, Andrew Smith and Dorney) helping to ensure that the initial idea of reviving Survivors has paid off in spades.

Much as I enjoyed the 2008 TV version and was disappointed not to see it at the very least get a chance to finish its story with a TV movie, this feels like the real thing. The stories intersect with the TV show without that feeling you can sometimes get in the Doctor Who ranges that a small gap in the continuity is being stretched far beyond its feasible size, and Neil Gardner’s sound design has kept reminding us – sometimes in very subtle ways, like the odd noise you got when you paused a reel-to-reel tape recorder – that we are firmly in the 1970s.

Another box set is coming next year; presumably this will be set during the second year, and it will be very interesting to see if the BF Survivors maintain the Nation feel of the series.

Verdict: A triumph across the board. 10/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Survivors from Big Finish

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