The Sound of Civilisation: Music in Terry Nation's "Survivors"

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic in Science Fiction Television: Tuned to the Future
EditorsK.J. Donnelly, Philip Hayward
Place of PublicationNew York / Abingdon
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780203076330
ISBN (Print)9780203076330
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2012

Publication series

NameRoutledge Music and Screen Media

Bibliographical note

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-diagetic 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-diagetic 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 chapter 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.

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