Survivors – BBC TV

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

Why was Survivors cancelled after two series?

Two series of Adrian Hodges’ remake of Terry Nation’s Survivors were made by the BBC (the first premiered in 2008; the second in 2010) before the show was cancelled.

When announcing the cancellation of Survivors the BBC made the following statement:

“The BBC is committed to making a broad range of varied and ambitious drama, but in order to achieve this we do have to move on from some pieces in order to allow new work to come through. After two series Survivors will not be returning.”

Although it did not refer to the issue directly, it is clear that – as far as the BBC’s drama commissioning editors were concerned – Survivors was drawing in too few viewers for both its production budget and for its time slot. Had those editors been satisifed with Survivors‘ viewing figures, it is all-but certain that a third series would have been commissioned. Before the cancellation announcement was made, showrunner Adrian Hodges had gone on record to express his enthusiasm for continuing with the programme.

Speaking to the author of this blog in October 2009, Hodges had been confident that Survivors had the potential to continue into a third series, and beyond. “I have ideas, I have stories – I’m ready to go,” he enthused. “In the nature of the series cycle I have to know quite soon. I have to get it into full development in order to get it shooting about the same time next year. I throw myself on the mercy of the British public.”

“I don’t see any reason why Survivors couldn’t go for five years,” he continued. “There’s a key ‘moment’ in series two which needs to be explained, which could feature in series three. And because we’ve got such a lively and diverse series of characters, there’s a lot of different directions that we could go in. I don’t feel I’ve finished their stories at all, because I want to see how they adjust to this new world.”

“There isn’t one single possible ending for a show like Survivors,” Hodges concluded. “There are a lot of different things that you could do. We’ll certainly be ready for series three if we get it.”

Sadly, Hodges’ plans for a third series of Survivors were dashed by the announcement of the show’s cancellation in April 2010.

A source in the BBC told the now defunct Total SciFi site that the decision-makers at the BBC felt “genuine affection for the show and a real desire to go again but felt that with the ratings having slipped a little since the first series they couldn’t take the risk.” The unnamed source suggested that Survivors had become “somewhat the victim of having gone out on the main channel – in some ways the exposure is wonderful but in other ways it’s a mixed blessing.”

“With ratings of over 4 million, Survivors would be considered to have a very substantial audience almost anywhere else except BBC1 and perhaps ITV.”

The source added that the cast and production team felt they had “truly begun to hit their creative stride in series 2” and were upset at not getting the chance to develop the series further.

In September 2010, Survivors actor Max Beesley (Tom Price) went on record to condemn the cancellation decision as “dreadful”. Beesley suggested that a TV audience of millions had watched Survivors to “enjoy drama and invest in characters” only to be let-down by commissioning editors concerned solely with “ratings, and sustaining a market”. The axeing of Survivors “just goes to show how much of a business it’s becoming now,” he added.

Worlds Apart: the unofficial and unauthorised guide to the BBC's remake of Survivors

World’s Apart: the unofficial and unauthorised guide to the BBC's remake of Survivors

Discover the full story of the making of Survivors (including numerous behind-the-scenes photos, illustrated location guide, original interviews with cast and crew, detailed reviews of all twelve episodes, and comprehensive comparison of the original and remake) in the the guidebook World’s Apart: the unofficial and unauthorised guide to the BBC’s remake of Survivors, published by Classic TV Press.



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1,092 Responses to “Why was Survivors cancelled after two series?”

  1. Mom Church said

    Please, please continue this series! It’s amazing! I’ll cry if it doesn’t continue!!

  2. Jeff said

    Have they thought about going over to Netflix?

  3. Melissa said

    I have hust finished the 2 seasons to find out that they have canceled and wont be making anymore. Its hard to get me really into tv shows so i go on Netflix to find interesting and ones that i believe i will enjoy. when i stumbled onto Survivors, i really got into the show just to find out that there will not be anymore of them made. They have left out so much of what could be happening and going on that i wish they would pick it back up and keep going.

  4. Greg lucas said

    Someone needs to pick this show up for a 3rd season. At least give viewer’s closer. Sick of networks cancelling shows in this manner. It make me want to not watch any if their programming. Maybe Netflix can bring this show back to life. I will be be watching and praying for this.

  5. Amber salinas said

    Bring Survivors back. It’s a great show and I enjoyed watching it on Netflix

  6. Gemma said

    I have emailed.

  7. Martha Altier said

    I think it’s a real shame that the series was cancelled. I watch tv all the time and when it gets to the point that I can tell you what is going to happen next, I lose interest and change the channel. I have watched both of these series 3 times and still have not lost interest. It is one of the best written and protrayed tv shows I have watched in recent years. The only other show that comes close is 24 Hours with Keifer Sutherland. I really wish they would continue this and show us what happens when they land the plane and find Tom in the Possible Infection area of the plane, how long it takes to produce the vaccine in mass quantities, and how they get the world back on it’s feet.

  8. Ryan said

    Can you not make a third series of survivors it so good and now I think it will become more popular

  9. Steve Harding said

    Why don’t you all email the BBC via the Points of View programme, the address is

    If enough people mention it, it might bring the subject up with the right people. Don’t just sit there and say it won’t help, just do it. Only takes 2 minutes of your time!!!! Oh and tell other people to do it too. 😊

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