Survivors – BBC TV

The BBC's revival of the classic 1970s post-apocalyptic drama by Terry Nation

Episode reviews – episode four (series two)

Episode four – BBC One – 21:00-22:00 – 09 February 2010


With Greg and Tom held as slave labour in Smithson’s coalmine, Abby and the rest of the ‘family’ are desperately searching for them. They catch-up with Billy Stringer and his partner Sally, unaware of their part in the slave trade. Greg convinces Smithson that he has geological expertise and his taken to his country headquarters, where he is spotted by Al and Najid. Convincing Sally to trust them, the family discover the truth and plan a rescue raid to free Greg and Tom. Anya and Abby arrive at Smithson’s house posing as traders, but their subterfuge eventually collapses and all of the group are hauled away to the mine. Tom, meanwhile, has escaped, but Al and Najid have been captured helping him. Tom prepares a trap and seizes Stringer’s truck, releasing a group of children held captive in the lorry container. He arrives at the coalmine just in time to save Greg from execution, and the pair free all the slaves. Saving Sally from the retribution handed out by the liberated slaves, the family escapes to the countryside. Anya cannot save the critically-injured miner Kevin, and Tom carries out a mercy killing to put him out of his misery. The children that Tom freed find Stringer tied up in the woods, and an older boy in the group frees him, revealing that his name is Peter Grant. Stringer says that he knows people who would be very pleased to meet him…


For a thoroughly detailed review and commentary on this and all other episodes in both series, see: Rich Cross. 2010. World’s Apart: the unofficial and unauthorised guide to the BBC’s remake of Survivors. Cambridge: Classic TV Press. [ available to order direct from the publisher ]


An engrossing and tension-wracked episode that delivers the goods on so many different fronts, and offers some fascinating moral conundrums alongside the action and dramatic shocks.

Please submit your comments and reaction to the episode below. Please note: all comments submitted to this blog are moderated prior to publication. We do not guarantee that all submitted comments will be published, but do pledge that a representative balance of comments will appear.


6 Responses to “Episode reviews – episode four (series two)”

  1. Niks said

    All true, the thing is that with less than one percent of the population remaining, there would surely be stores of dried and tinned food, fuel, materials, clothing, petrol and water for decades. The one thing there wouldn’t be is fresh food – meat, vegetables and dairy produce. If I had just survived an apocalytpic virus I’d gather as many seeds as I could lay my hands on and head for a farm with a wood burning cooker where there was already livestock and begin planting. With modern veg strains you could eat well all year round.

  2. Andy F said

    I agree with Niks for the reason he gave, there would not be a need to mine coal because of the stuff lying around at power stations. also there would no longer be a shortage of wood to burn as there would be a lot less people to use it. Also I notice that the so called Govt place is powered by solar and wind energy, surely the ‘Govt’ would be in a better position to try and re-establish law’n’order by helping the little communities establish these technologies

    “…instead of the urban hippy freeganism, a realistic portrayal of how grim things would really be.”
    Why so? when the original series was made in the 1970s it sought to explore the then new ideas of the Green movement and self sufficiency which is what made the series thought provoking and popular. These ideas are more accepted now, so its likely that many of the survivors could do more than slaughter each other to grab crates of baked beans. Maybe Permaculture isn’t as sexy as fast cars and shooters in TV land- how do they get their petrol by the way? It was easier to bust petrol pumps in the 1970s I should think.

    The slavery thing was not great idea – A form of neo-feudalsim would be much more believable; A back to the land movement of communes protected by a ‘strongman’ gangster or warlord from other gangsters or warlords in return for working the land and paying taxes in crops etc.

    Still I laughed when Tom Price came to the rescue with the immortal words: “Alright lads, I’ve got your P45s…” :)

  3. Nick Hubble said

    Yes, good stuff.

    The coal mining question is interesting. How much would there be lying around? Not as much as 30 years ago – that is for sure. Anyway, the point is that Smithson was a kind of nutter so he might not have thought about that anyway. The whole premise of the series hardly stands up to scrutiny on one level. Would a virus kill off 99% of the population over the course of a fortnight? Such a process would take several years and wouldn’t be so comprehensive anyway. Once you accept the premise, you have to start making judgments on plausibility relative to the scenario. The series has already developed a timeless feel – on one level it is still the same summer as the outbreak but on another level, more time must have elapsed or the societal developments (such as Smithson’s mine and Samantha’s set-up) would not have evolved to the extent they have. So, as discussed before, it is not really social realism.

    Is there an official line on how long has elapsed since the events of the opening episode of series one? Does anyone know?

  4. Mark Davies said

    Enjoyed it descending into farce a bit here and there (when everyone else but tom was captured), but quite creepy and unsettling nonetheless.

    next week looks a bit mad, looks like they have knocked off the scientists…and another wrong headed community of the week, interesting what adrian hodges said about the postcard.

  5. Niks said

    Sorry but maybe I’ve missed soemthing but why do they need to mine coal. Surely there are tonnes of coal stored at power stations up and down the country, enough to last for decades. I understand that it was a plot device but it just didn’t make any sense. What would have been more beleivable would be if the slaves were being made to grow and harvest crops.

  6. It’s maybe an hour after ending watching it and I’m still rather shaken… Scary, very scary and as your man says, full of terrifying moral conundrums. Watching it made me feel queasy but it was compelling

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