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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1,183 Responses to “Why was Survivors cancelled after two series?”

  1. Lynette said

    ll truly disgusted just got through watching this and was enthralled Tom sitting in the back of a plane wounded going God knows where and I end up in oblivion. What happened to the rest of the show? LOVED this better than Fear the Walking Dead and I love that. NO comparison I want this back.


    I just finished the 2 Seasons on Netflix and I really enjoyed it. I am so disappointed that there wasn’t a Season 3. The cliffhanger on Season 2 was the best. I am so BUMMED that the BBC didn’t see the potential of the series. )-: Tom was the MAN!!

  3. Sandi said

    I just finished both seasons and I loved it! This show gave me life! Netflix needs to bring this back.I am also currently watching Wentworth and Deadset, I had no idea BBC had such great shows.Fan for life if they bring Survivors.We are starting an online petition.

  4. Gemma said

    This just shows that the BBC only care about making money! A brilliant series was axed just because it didn’t exceed their expectations for viewings. 4 million people tuned in to watch this, in my opinion, that’s a vast amount. There’s absolutely no point in watching anything to the BBC produces if they do not finish them!

  5. Nicole Casse said

    Bullcrap. I love this show and you cancelled it. You can’t leave the viewers hanging. What happens to Tom? Naj? Abby? Greg’s family? So wish there was more.

  6. Kim said

    Very Pissed…I Let myself get hooked then find this out….very angry…very sad that I won’t see it again…I thought it was great….too bad though it would have went big…… IF THEY MADE A FREAKING 3RD SEASON …..Kim from upstate New York…URGGGGGGGGG !!!!!

  7. Quanza said

    I loved it I need it to continue…What happens next…Where does Tom end up?..Abby just got her son back!!!

  8. Jaime said

    FU BBC! I just watched 2 seasons in one week and you leave me like this?

  9. Alexandria Mullett said

    I absolutely love the show! Pretty upset that I just found found it and can’t continue to watch..

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