TV review: Survivors
By Jeremy Clay
At 9pm last night, people all over Britain will have plonked themselves down with a nice bottle of wine to watch BBC1’s spellbinding new thriller, Survivors.
Not long after, a sizeable chunk of them will have wished they’d poured themselves a Lemsip instead. A pint of Lemsip, perhaps. Just as a precaution.
Survivors is a remake of Terry Nation’s post-apocalyptic 1970s series about a pandemic flu virus which wipes out most of the population.
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It’s a pretty convincing remake too: an unsettling, haunting drama with a strong cast, a powerful story and a premise that’s bleaker than a month of Mondays. In Coventry.
But it’s probably not the best choice of viewing for hypochondriacs. Nor the suggestible.
Over the course of an opening hour in which virtually everyone who appeared on the screen died a sweaty death, I half believed I had most of the main symptoms.
First a sniff. Then another. Then a slight clamminess. Then a sudden wash of nausea; the kind you ordinarily get only while watching Kilroy on I’m A Celebrity.
Turns out I was just a little eggbound, but things are a tad more serious on the box, where Britain is littered with the dead.
Curiously, they all seem to have died at once. But that delivered Survivors’ strongest scenes, an eerie segment where each of the characters who’d escaped the savage sniffles picked their way through the flyblown aftermath.
So: Philip Rhys’ moneyed playboy woke from a one-night stand to discover his hot date had gone rather cold while Max Beesley’s murderous prisoner impassively watched his cellmate shudder and shiver to death.
And at the heart of the story, Julie Graham’s pivotal Abby recovered from a delirious bout of the bug to find her husband had croaked on the settee, and all her neighbours were stiffs too.
For a while, they were alone. Like I Am Legend, without the zombies; Then it turns into Day of the Triffids, without the peckish plants. But all along, it’s a rattling good yarn, which is only slightly marred by surprisingly rubbishy special effects at the end.
Animals in the Womb (7.10pm, Saturday, Channel 4) was full of staggering images of embryonic kittens.
Alas, I got rather stuck on the opening fact: a male cat’s penis is covered in barbs, designed to scratch and scrape during nookie.
That’ll put the ow in miaow.