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Music, Nation and Civilisation in Terry Nation's 'Survivors'
Apart from the ominous drone that introduces its title sequence and the hopeful bells of its end credits, 'Survivors' (1975-77) used very little music in its depiction of a post-plague world where scattered survivors seek to rebuild some forms of civilisation. With one exception there is no non-diegetic music during the series; instead, music comes at moments when groups of survivors can relax and celebrate their gradual rebuilding of a form of civilisation. Its absence acts to reinforce the feeling of the loneliness of the characters and the emptiness of this depopulated world. The one piece of non-diegetic music is a sitar theme that marks each appearance of an Indian woman who has guided a community of survivors into an alternative form of civilisation to the technological world that was destroyed, and which many survivors are keen to recreate. In the typical absence of music of the rest of the series, this disruption of the soundtrack adds to the feeling of difference and mysticism that surrounds this character and her community. This paper investigates the use of music in 'Survivors', showing how its appearances act to indicate and characterise the slow redevelopment of forms of civilisation in this post-apocalyptic world. It relates the use of music particularly to the development and ideals of the British folk music revival in the Twentieth Century, which is tied up with notions of British identities and particularly middle-class ideals of rural society as, at least in part, a reaction to the perceived threat of American popular culture.