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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1,053 Responses to “Why was Survivors cancelled after two series?”

  1. Pamela Russell said

    I was so disappointed that after watching this series on netflix that only 2 seasons were released, I fully believe that at this time and day that if this show were to pick up this series again it would be very popular because of the last decade of conditions of viruses, I truly believe this would be a huge hit now, I just finished the 2 seasons and was very transfixed with this sernario that I was truly upset there were not more, there is so many cases of flu’s jumping specie’s now than there was then. I wish that all who precipitated in this show will revisit this show.

  2. Betty said

    Found this on Netflix and was very quickly addicted. Too many unanswered questions and plenty of room for other story lines. Hope we aren’t left handing for much longer.

  3. Nikki said

    Seriously, only two freaking seasons! This was like reading a good book, only to get to the end and the page is torn out. I’m so dissatisfied that there’s no season three, yet it ended like it were.

  4. Margie said

    Excellent idea! Yes, if they can’t restart the series at least the writers should let us all know what was planned to have happened next. To leave a rather large audience hanging like that with no resolution to the storyline is rather disrespectful.

  5. Caleb Steele said

    I think the reason for the bad ratings were poor or not enough advertising. I never even knew about this being on TV but I would have definitely watched it. This is a programme I found on Netflix and became attached to only to find it to end on a massive cliffhanger. I think the writers should post what was going to happen online for us to see.

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