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.



<<< Back to FAQs


1,223 Responses to “Why was Survivors cancelled after two series?”

  1. Jane Henson said

    Omg just watched series 1 and 2 of Survivors only to discover they cancelled any more plans for a 3rd series…Basically the BBC left us in limbo land ! Angry isn’t the word! Never knew about it back in 2008 but 10 yrs on what a fantastic series but gutted that’s it!!!

  2. colin flowerday said

    Survivors was trying to be like its Seventies Predecessor but it failed miserably as the Terry Nation original was so gripping I loved it fourty years ago and have it on Dvd. The modern version failed as it cant work its sad but Remakes don’t work normally its sad but I feel that its Cancellation was bound to happen but it should have had a final episode????

  3. Olav Sandnes said

    The Beeb really did it this time. Canceling a show with 4 million viewers? BBC; you’re not only loosing 4 million viewers, you’re making 4 million people, along with all the millions watching it later on, angry at you! That should be worse than loosing some money; loosing people AND money…

    I, along with many others, are boycotting you solely for canceling this great show!
    Unfortunately for you – making it unfortunately for us – this show was perhaps just a tad too early for the world. Had you held on for a year or two, this could be what the crazy amount of people had watched instead of The Walking Dead today.

    Now THAT’S some serious money lost.. Oh, the costly irony!

    @BBC (and/or Netflix) , if you really would like to make some money, pick-up The Survivors and steal the audience of Walking Dead and shows alike. Show it on Netflix as early as possible, still making the show good. Yes, the characters have aged a bit, but that could be interesting! They are such a nice group of people!

  4. Corey Prescott said

    Such a shame Survivors was cancelled, and what a cliff hanger to end on. Surely there has to be another series?!

  5. jason said

    what a great series need to do a 3rd and 4th……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: