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. Barry said

    08/09/2018 I just watched series 1 on Wednesday 05/09/2018 on DVD box set and I enjoyed it so much as I wanted to see this remake as I watched the original series back in the 70s and I surf the net for any more seasons of the remake as I enjoyed it so much and I found season 2 on DVD set and bought it right away I only just finished watching the whole 2nd series just this moment ago 08/09/2018 and returned to the net to buy more seasons of this remake only to discover that the BBC dropped the series after season 2 was made. I am so sad that they done this as I think they had a goldmine here but could not see it’s full potential. this kind of BBC activity of dropping programs in mid stream is become an all too common thing as they did the same with the series Tripods and others if this activity continues I will refuse to pay for my television licence based on the fact that the BBC rarely completes a full television series from start to finish with a ending that completes the whole story and is a waste of time getting into a series with no ending it would be a waste of time and therefor a waste of money for a licence to view anything on BBC. I feel I am not alone in thinking this but I hope they will reconsider and recall the actors and actresses for a 3rd season and 4th and 5th with a proper ending. I am so deeply upset this show was scrapped and I will never recover from not seeing further seasons

  2. James said

    I Loved the 1970 s series, But felt they should of made 1 more to see what would of Happened to them, then they made a Remake watched , Loved it then after 2 series they cancelled that as well, Gutted there were at Least 2 series Left before it Ran its course, been 10 years jimmy the Hat 🎩

  3. Such a shame survivors was cancelledand what a cliff hanger to end on.what a great series need to do 3rd and 4rd

  4. Joe gallagher said

    So angry they cancelled survivors and left everybody hanging on a cliff edge we would like to see more series made so we can enjoy it more and find out what happens.

  5. Aly said

    would really like to see the series continue.For some reason the thing won’t get out of my head. I think it might be because I watched the original at an impressionable age of around 12yrs. Loved it then and love it now……

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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????

  8. 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!

  9. Corey Prescott said

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

  10. jason said

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

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