THE WORLD WIDE web played a key role in the propagation of knowledge about Survivors as interest in the show began to be rekindled in the early 1990s, following the release of the first series on VHS video cassette and the broadcast of all three series on the satellite and cable channel UK Gold.
As well as coverage of the show on sites focusing on a variety of genre and cult TV, several dedicated Survivors web sites were launched by fans of the show. These sites surfaced little known facts about the programme, documented what those involved in Survivors had gone on to work on subsequently, and began the business of identifying the locations in which the series had been filmed.
Just as importantly, this nascent network of Survivors web sites provided a point of entry into fandom for many aficionados of the show and means of connecting with fellow enthusiasts.
Decades on, it’s clear just how transient and impermanent a place the internet is
Years before social media emerged as a platform for online communities, these websites (together with the small number of print-based fanzines) provided a means for Survivors fans to discover others that were as fascinated by the show as they were.
These first Survivors sites were born in the early years of web popularity: a time when Geocities provided a platform for many fan communities wanting free hosting and when internet service providers offered their customers web space to set up hobby web sites. This was all long before the invention of smartphones and mobile devices.
Web sites were accessed on bulky desktop machines, using browsers like Netscape Navigator and indexed in search engines such as AltaVista.
Over time, web technologies changed and developed, and some Survivors web editors responded to emerging new web standards and capabilities by changing the way they presented their content. Others stuck with the tried and trusted methods they knew.
Decades on, it’s clear just how transient and impermanent a place the internet is, and how quickly websites (particularly those built not by commercial or governmental agencies, but by enthusiasts) can drop off line and disappear into digital history, no longer reachable by today’s web surfers.
The number of active Survivors websites has now contracted sharply, with online activity relocating to the realms of Facebook and other social media services. Yet that has proven to be an even more transient form of publication than earlier web platforms. There’s little comparison between a well organised and dedicated Survivors site, and a disparate collection of scattergun social media posts disappearing into a service’s own timeline.
Much online activity has relocated to the realms of social media
Time is long overdue to reaffirm the importance and the persuasive power of the original Survivors web community.
As part of a celebration of the work of these pioneer Survivors web editors, Survivors: A World Away turns back the clock to the halcyon days of the 1990s and early 2000s, to uncover those memorable Survivors web sites that have long since either gone away or which now appear to have been abandoned by their owners. These near-moribund sites are subject, in the words of one memorable British Rail announcer back in 1975, to "very considerable delays" in being updated.
Snapshots of many of these sites, taken when they were in their prime, can still be accessed online through the auspices of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which for many years has continued to copy and archive contents from across the ever evolving, ever changing web into a vast online repository of content. The Internet Archive is now the only space on the web where much of the material discussed below can still be accessed.
Those looking for the most current and up-to-date Survivors information online are urged to find "alternative forms of travel" across the world wide web: a type of movement that could lead them to much more rewarding (and far more current) destinations.
But let's turn the clock back to an earlier era in the Survivors online world...
FOR A TIME in the 1990s, the Survivors Homepage was one of the standout Survivors web sites out there. For a Geocities site, it had an impressive design and, in addition to interviews and episode guides, it offered a range of more advanced features: such as location maps, quizzes and an always-interesting Opinion section, which encouraged visitors to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the discussion.
The site remained an extremely popular destination for fans of the series for many years. The team of contributors who provided material grew, and new sections and features were added.
But long before all three series of Survivors finally secured a DVD release, activity on the Survivors Homepage had begun to tail-off sharply, as updates became increasingly rare.
The site slipped into a static state, but remained a reference point for many fans. It eventually slid off-line with the closure of the Geocities platform in 2009.
The Survivors Homepage is a very fondly-remembered site amongst fans who were engaged with the series at the time. In terms of both presentation and content, it set a high standard against which future sites would inevitably be compared.
ONE OF THE earliest (if not the first) British-based Survivors web sites to appear online, Chris Barker's Felbridge Camp offered an impressive mix of behind-the-scenes information, news about cast and crew members, and details of fan activities: including theatre trips, to see Survivors alumni 'tread the boards', and visits to Survivors' filming locations.
Chris was also amongst the first internet-savvy Survivors' aficionados to master the art of screen-capturing for the web, which helped him to develop some very effective design features for the site.
A close collaboration between the site and the Survivors Newsletter led Felbridge Camp to host the first online version of the fan publication. This only developed as far as a partial digital reproduction of the print edition, before the newsletter editors had a change of heart, deciding to go their own independent way.
Felbridge Camp was built in personal web space provided by internet service provider Virgin to dial-up and phone customers like Chris. Over time, the rate of updates slowed to a near-halt; and the site went off-line several years back; either when Chris moved to a new ISP or when Virgin Media closed down its Webspace service - whichever was the sooner.
OF ALL THE UK Survivors web sites of this period, it was the Survivors Newsletter that tried out the largest variety of hosts and technologies, as the editors experimented with a variety of ways to manage an online presence.
After a brief partnership with Felbridge Camp, the Newsletter struck out on its own.
Amongst the different platforms the editors tried out in turn, were the Tripod site, the WAP site and the Freeserve site. In addition, there was a Newsletter presence on the Moonfruit platform, that was so shortlived that it's not held in the Internet Archive.
The challenge that the newsletter team faced with each subsequent web incarnation of the publication was one of "fair access". Subscribers to the print edition of the newsletter were asked to pay an annual fee. Was it reasonable, and was it sustainable, to keep charging readers if the same content was made available for free online?
In an attempt to balance the desire to maintain an online presence for the Survivors Newsletter with the need to keep the print edition fully funded, the different newsletter web sites focused on last-minute news items, colour illustrations and photographs (not available in the photocopied print version) and extracts from the newsletter archives.
This meant that there was never an option to download a free PDF version of any subscriber-funded issues.
The last version of the Survivors Newsletter site went offline some time before the final issue of the print Survivors Newsletter rolled off the photocopier in April 2013.
The editors set up a presence for the newsletter on Facebook, posting news updates and extracts from the newsletter backfiles. This activity has continued, though less frequently, following the death of founding editor Lynne Sweetman in 2018.
NOT ALL OF the sites that were previously part of the evolving online Survivors community have dropped offline.
But inevitably some of those sites that previously benefitted from regular updates and fresh content have slipped into a moribund state, as their editors have moved on to new projects and priorities.
Those sites can still be useful ports of call for those researching different aspects of the series, as long as those visiting recognise that the information they're viewing is no longer being updated, and may be out-of-date or superceded by new information.
THE FIRST SERIES of Survivors proved to be a major hit on Italian TV back in the 1970s, generating a huge wave of interest in the series. It was attention which led Italian film makers to reach out to Ian McCulloch (Greg Preston) to offer him leading man roles in three horror films.
The I sopravvissuti site was set up with the aim of becoming the definitive Italian-language guide to the series (and to Survivors' reception in Italy). Provided with a built-in English language translation, I sopravvissuti was crafted with a stylish, minimalist design which showed off its contents to great effect.
New additions to the site began to slow in 2010, and over the course of the last decade only a few brief news snippets have been added.
Though substantive development work on I sopravvissuti has ceased, the site continues to provide a unique Italian perspective on Survivors.
Survivors TV Series
SET UP IN the early 2000s, the Survivors TV series site expanded rapdily from modest beginnings to offer a sizable collection of material on different aspects of the series.
One of the most popular features of the site in the early years were the extensively screencaptured episode walkthroughs. In the days before the release of all three series of Survivors on DVD, it was a useful reference point for fans wanting to know the key story elements of all 38 episodes of the show.
The relative prominence and fast growth of the Survivors TV series site was what led the DVD label DD Video to contact site owner Andy Priestner to offer him a role of consultant and series' expert on what became the company's three series DVD release of Survivors between 2003 and 2005.
As work on the releases progressed, the site provided regular news updates as to the development of the project.
Following the release of the third and final series on DVD, and the publication of The End of the World? book, Andy's enthusiasm to continue developing the site waned, as his attention focused elsewhere.
There have been no substantive updates to the site in more than 15 years, but it will remain available online so long as the hosting costs continue to be met.
Survivors locations: 1975-1977
OVER THE LAST few years, Survivors location hunter Steve Clutterbuck's tenacity and determination has led to the discovery of many long sought-after filming locations from the series.
Keen to provide a comprehensive guide to all known locations used in the series, Steve began work on his Survivors locations: 1975-1977 - then and now site. The plan was to provide then-and-now comparison photos of each location, together with maps and other material to assist anyone wanting to organise their own tour of any of these locations.
Work on the project has stalled in recent years, and now quite a number of the images on the site have disappeared, as the photo hosting company has withdrawn its storage services.
There's still a good amount of content still currently available on the site, though without active intervention that's liable to decrease over time.
There's still a real need for a comprehensive online guide to Survivors filming locations, to support the intrepid traveller keen to visit those memorable sites in Herefordshire and beyond. Perhaps one day Steve can be persuaded to restart his efforts and complete what had already become an extremely useful guide.
WHILE YOU CAN still find references to Survivors on sites focusing on genre and cult TV, by 2021 the number of dedicated and actively maintained Survivors web sites had shrunk considerably.
Terry Nation's Survivors
Bob Meade has been an active Survivors enthusiast since the early 1990s, and he's continuously run a Survivors site on different web platforms for more than twenty years. The current incarnation of his site Terry Nation's Survivors, which he continues to update regularly, contains detailed illustrated reports of his many location visits, behind-the-scenes photos from cast and crew members, extracts from published work on the series, and more.
Bob has recently set up a YouTube channel to host travelogues from his more recent return visits to "Survivors country".
Survivors: A World Away
And, of course, the Survivors: A World Away web site on which you're reading this guide, is itself part of a connected hub of actively maintained Survivors web sites. That network is currently comprised of Survivors: Mad Dog, a site dedicated exclusively to the study of the classic series three episode of that name; Survivors: A World Away - news, a new service providing the latest updates on every different aspects of the series; Big Finish: Survivors, a comprehensive guide to all nine series of original Survivors audio adventures, released by Big Finish between 2014 and 2019; Survivors (2008-2010), which focuses on the BBC's twelve episode, two series remake of Survivors - and, of course, this site Survivors: A World Away.
As for that hub of web sites connected through the centre of operations that is the Survivors: A World Away platform, we've no intention of "going away" any time soon...
Cite this web page
Cross, R. (2021). 'Gone Away,' [online] Survivors: A World Away, 31 January. Available at: https://survivors-mad-dog.org.uk/a-world-away/survivors_web_sites_gone_away.php. Accessed on: 28 February 2021.
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