Will the BBC give the same cheeky soap-opera treatment to its remake of the classic 1970s plague apocalypse show The Survivors that it gave to time-travel adventure show Doctor Who? Maybe, if the recent announcement of cast and characters is anything to go by. The main characters include a lesbian doctor and an Arab playboy, and the soap-operatic possibilities are almost endless. Which could be a good thing, since the original was a bit turgid.
Actually, the nice thing about the mid-1970s version of The Survivors (created by Doctor Who writer Terry Nation) was the fact that it was slow and talky, with lots of speeches about what happens after most of the human race is dead due to a mystery plague. A post-apocalyptic world probably would be quite boring, punctuated with bits of terror or rage. There would be an awful lot of repetitive processing of what had happened and what we do now, and nobody would be in the mood to talk about sex, except in the sense of carrying on the species.
But that kind of show probably wouldn't fly today, and the new version will probably be more watchable. This quote from writer-producer Adrian Hodges is promising anyway:
Survivors is about what it means to be human. It asks questions about our nature and confronts us with our deepest fears. When everything else is stripped away, would we band together and find the best in ourselves, or would we fall apart and retreat into barbarism and savagery?
He's describing, pretty much, the perfect formula for post-apocalyptic stories right there.
The main character of The Survivors, Abby Grant, doesn't sound too different from the original version, except that now she's the gorgeous Julie Graham. She's still a bored housewife, but she's no longer rich. She lets her son Peter go on an adventure holiday, and it sounds as though he goes missing. Instead of dying off early on, it looks like her husband David will be a recurring character. (And in the original series, Abby vanishes after the first season. Wondering if that will happen here as well.)
Most of the other characters, however, seem completely new, like handsome playboy Al Sadiq (Philip Rhys), who's stuck being an inadequate single dad to his kid Najid. (I think in the original, there were two kids, John and Lizzie, but they were both orphans.)
And then there's the lesbian doctor, Anya Raczynski (Zoe Tapper), whose girlfriend is stricken by the plague. Doctor Who's Freema Agyeman plays a schoolteacher who risks everything to save the life of her dying housemate Patricia. And Nikki Amuka-Bird (who played an alien sleeper agent on Torchwood) plays a government minister trying to staunch panic at the disaster. Finally, awesome character actor Max Beesley is a ruthless convict who is stuck in his cell as everybody else dies around him.
Actually, it sounds quite promising. I'm down for a bit of post-apocalyptic soap opera.