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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1,229 Responses to “Why was Survivors cancelled after two series?”

  1. colin flowerday said

    Survivors failed tragicly as its simply isn’t up to the standard of its Seventies Incarnation as that version was excellent I love that version. Remakes don’t work they normally fail and tragicly Survivors in this case hasnt a proper ending or final Episode that’s rather STUPID of the BBC not giving it a proper ending so ill watch SURVIVORS from the Seventies as the remake is simply finished!

  2. Kopite said

    Agreed just eatched it on Netflix and was glued to it. Can’t believe theres no thirs series and conclusion. One that the BBC got wrong. But they continue to produce awful programms at a far greater cost than this series. get the cast baxck and get it going again.

  3. darrel said

    As much as I agree with these comments its hardly practical now as its 7 years later…

  4. Michele Gardner said

    Just watch it on nettflix can’t believe their are no more episodes. I loved the series and wanted to watch more. Very disappointed.

  5. Steve Harding said

    Of you want to complain about Survivors being stopped, then email you comments to pov@bbc.

  6. Luke Miller said

    Survivors is a fantastic program I was shocked to read it was canceled this program can go on and also the end of series 2 it’s left the door open to new series so viewers like myself are wondering what’s happening next. Your making huge mistake not making anymore I love watching it i stayed awake most the night watching it because I couldn’t stop I was that interested to no what was happening next. Please please bring it back

  7. James said

    Just watched it on netflix i can not beleave there is no more shame on you bbc you do not know what we want bring it back netflix should. Take it please i need to know what tom dose after they land

  8. Richard said


  9. Richard said

    What a sham the BBC are for letting something like this go i bet the ratings didnt even slip that dramatically either! Why not at least make the series for release on dvd if not for it to be aired-it would definitely sell to the market who are interested and the damn petty BBC would still get their chuffing money without loosing their pathetic ratings! BBC you are going down hill over the years time to pull your finger out and sort yourselves out!

  10. Christy Legg Spencer said

    It is unbelievable that such a great story was canceled.I just now saw it of netflix..sad, very sad..I really wish they would have continued it..It stopped at such a cruicial point.. wow..totally unbelievable!!!

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