Region 2 Edition

Reviewed by Mike Hadfield

Directors:  Eric Hills, Pennant Roberts, Terence Williams

Featuring:  Ian McCulloch, Denis Lill, Lucy Fleming, Celia Gregory

Greg Preston (played by Ian McCulloch)

Charles Vaughan (Denis Lill)

You must accept that survival of the fittest is the priority”


The second series of Survivors picks up a year after the global catastrophe that has wiped out 99.9% of the world’s population. It concentrates on a small group struggling to adapt to a dramatically changed world following the plague. The central characters of Greg (Ian McCulloch), Jenny (Lucy Fleming), Ruth (Celia Gregory) and Pet (Lorna Lewis) reprise their roles from the first series. Carolyn Seymour is sadly missing as the strong and decisive Abbey. However, a new set of relationships is forged with the re-introduction of Denis Lill’s character of Charles from the first series episode Corn Dolly.

Series two, which originally aired in 1976, contains some of the very best episodes. From the firm fan favourite Lights of London (the only two-part story in the whole series) to A Friend in Need, the series delivers superbly written and acted drama. In fact, the thirteen episodes of the second series show a great deal of variation in style and content. Reformed murderers, snipers, superstition, class systems, trust, new beginnings and renewed hope all feature in this diverse set of episodes. The writers really should be commended for giving us plenty of things to think about – after all, this is a series founded in reality. Much of what is shown could really happen. You just need to take a look at today’s world climate to see how the events and issues raised in this series are as relevant today as they were back in the seventies.

The creator of Survivors (Terry Nation) had no involvement with series two. This left producer Terence Dudley free to take the series in a new direction. A fire at the Grange resulted in several cast members being written out and a new community needing to be created. This new direction was instrumental in giving the series a whole new lease of life. The first series had its moments but was starting to get caught up in too much running around with guns. Dudley and Jack Ronder decided to tone this down and create a much more dramatic and hard-hitting series. While it’s true that most of the series is rather bleak and sombre, as a viewer you can’t help being drawn into the world of the characters being depicted. The test of any series is how many episodes you can watch in one sitting. I have to admit that when I started watching these discs I just did not want to stop…. This is probably why I am now a gibbering wreck, having gone through all the emotional ups and down of the characters.

Series two also managed to attract a large number of guest stars including Patrick Troughton, David Troughton, Phillip Madoc, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Nadim Sawalha, Wendy Williams and Kevin McNally. You can also spot a very young looking David Neilson (now better known as Roy Cropper in Coronation Street).

This is apocalyptic drama and storytelling at its very best. I doubt that ITV’s recent attempt at something similar (The Last Train) will be as fondly remembered in twenty-five year’s time!

Hubert Goss (the late John Abineri)

Jenny Richards (Lucy Fleming)

Ruth Armstrong (Celia Gregory)



DD Video has pulled out all the stops and given us a first-class presentation of these episodes. They look absolutely stunning. Colours are rich and stable with little grain evident. The MPEG encoding is also top-notch. The average bit-rate is 4.68Mb/s.

The set consists of three discs containing four episodes each and a fourth disc containing the last episode and the extras. Presenting the episodes alone on discs allows them to be presented at the best possible quality. All the discs are dual-layered. The extras are encoded at an average bit-rate of 5.35Mb/s. Any picture defects visible (and there are not many) are down to the age of the materials. The packaging states that the episodes have been digitally re-mastered. This has probably been just a basic DVNR cleanup which goes to shows how good the original archive copies the BBC hold are. They make UK Gold’s screenings look like worn-out old VHS tapes!


Audio is clear and distinct. Presented in Dolby Digital mono 2.0 at a bit-rate of 192Kbps the encoding is easily able to handle the range and sonic style of the 70’s TV mix. Dialogue is nicely reproduced with no hiss to spoil your enjoyment.

New faces: Dave ("Blue Peter" presenter Peter Duncan)

Nadim Sawalha as Amul in "The Lights of London".

Patrick Troughton as John Millen in "Parasites".


The bonus material is all on the final disc. DD Video has given us a nice set of extras.

Interviews with Denis Lill, Lorna Lewis, Heather Wright and director Pennant Roberts.
All these are talking head-style interviews and are quite well put together, though the lighting is a little too moody for my liking!. The participants clearly show that they have fond memories of the series. It’s good to see companies producing some retrospective interview material for releases – something which the Americans should take note (recent releases like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century contain no extras at all!)

Audio Commentary

For some inexplicable reason, the second episode of Lights of London is reproduced on the fourth disc, but with an audio commentary soundtrack. Denis Lill and Pennant Roberts take part in this commentary which gives some great insights into the making of the episode and series in general. Highly recommended listening for any fan of the show.

Photo Gallery

Lucy Fleming’s private collection of photos and the BBC’s publicity images round off the extras package. While some of these are very nice to see, I suspect they are a one-time viewing item only.


The best extra of the set is not even on the discs! A forty-four-page booklet is included that is worth its (considerable) weight in gold! Well written and researched by Andy Priestner, it covers the background to the making of this second series and tells us what happened behind the scenes before, during and after production. Each episode is also given its own page with broadcast details, synopsis and fascinating trivia snippets. Rounding off the booklet are sections on Where Are They Now?, Studio Reports and full cast lists that are a nice touch. The booklet is full colour with some great pictures illustrating behind-the-scenes moments.

DD Video has produced booklets like this for all their releases (Survivors, Secret Army, their Hammer movies, Fall of Eagles etc). These booklets demonstrate their commitment to releasing a quality product that is sure to please fans.

Philip Madoc as community leader Max Kershaw in "The Chosen"

A long way from "Only Fools and Horses": Roger Lloyd Pack as Wally in "Lights of London"

David Troughton as Stan in "Lights of London"


You may have got the impression that I am very happy and impressed with this release. Well, let me just make it clear – I REALLY AM! 

DD Video continues to present complete series of the best in British telefantasy and drama in the best way possible. This is a superbly presented set of episodes with some truly fascinating and relevant extras. The icing on this very lovely cake is the excellent booklet. Despite the odd placement of the commentary (I suspect this may have been an authoring error quick-fix) they have still managed to produce a great set. There are not many companies at the moment that take this amount of care over its products. Yes, DD Video releases are a little higher priced than most, but believe me, it’s worth it. As the saying goes, “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. I expect DD Video may have this as their company mission statement! Long may they continue.












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