Survivors: how not to do an all-round media experience (updated)

You may have noticed that Terry Nation’s 1970s apocalyptic series Survivors (I never saw it) is now back, remade, on BBC1. The premise of the modern series isn’t bad: everyone gets a version of flu with a particularly high mortality rate. (It sounds like the chicken flu piece I wrote for The Register back in 2005.) But that’s not all! No, we live in a multimedia, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-fridge-with-web-access world! Update: turns out all the below is wrong. @wearesurvivors on Twitter is not by the BBC or the production company. So ignore it all. I won’t do a strikeout, but from here stop reading except for the purposes of being a searchbot. Honestly. You think you’ve found something adding value…


So they set up a Twitter account – @wearesurvivors. (Hilariously, it’s following I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Hey, perhaps they’re still alive in Oz, eh?) Actually they set up two – there’s also SurvivorSW17. (Someone still alive in Tooting? How quaint.) Gotta love who SurvivorSW17 is following. And the idea that although in Manchester social order has broken down amidst a 99.9% fatality rate, in Tooting the internet is still working – and you can still log in to Twitter. And that’s not all! The @wearesurvivors crew say they’ve set up a wiki at beliefinthefuture.com! Hurrah! We can tell the world, um, something, and the interwebs are still working. So the wiki is here. I couldn’t bear the fact that it had misspelled “virulent” (virulant? I ask you). So I changed it. Look at this version if you want to see how it looked before I mucked it up in my sub-editorly way. (Undo it if you like. It’s a wiki.) You can see when they installed it, apparently: Monday November 24, at 9.30pm, apparently by someone using a Be account. But they couldn’t even get that right. They had the wrong names for the people – they started being “Jeff, Helen, Adam, Jason & Mike (The Bunker 3 5)” and then became, nine minutes later, “Jeff, Helen, Adam, Jason & Martin ([http://twitter.com/wearesurvivors The Bunker 3 5]).” Bad stuff, production company. And why do I think it’s the production company? Because even if you thought Survivors was a fab program, why would you make up a scenario like that? The Twitter accounts, similarly, are some sort of orthogonal plot to what’s on screen, so I don’t think it’s random people, or even fans. And they also (briefly) pointed to their “company” – northmoorplc.co.uk. Yeah, that’s it over there. …which is just the same thing. They haven’t even figured out which frequencies they’ll be doing it on. They’ve just left some filler copy. The Blair Witch Project, and that film’s carefully-seeded grassroots promotion, it ain’t. One can only hope that the money not spent on the viral social media marketing stuff wasn’t hacked off the scriptwriters’ pay. Someone’s going to tell me that they’ve got a Facebook group now. Wonder what the status updates would read?

4 Comments

  1. Interesting post post. Obviously a lot of pressure for mainstream media companies to engage with new media tools but they’ve got this badly wrong. I wonder if this a n agency or an over-eager BBC team running the account.

    Are they are any examples of TV programmes using twitter that you think work?

    I’ve found myself more immersed in the Mad Men world from following Don Draper. Also Big Cat Live got me through to the BBC site (if not to actually stay in and watch the programme)

  2. Interesting. Doctor Who has been experimenting on the fringes since its revival in 2005, mainly by buying domain names and creating websites around the series website within bbc.co.uk. Almost all these additional websites (such as http://www.darktalk.co.uk/) are actually linked to the Who spin-off Torchwood, which has used them for interactive web gaming. I think they have worked quite well so far for Whovians and Torchwood fans as they have added an extra dimension, with lots of canonical extras not available on the main sites. Certainly they’ve been done a lot better than the attempt by Survivors. I’ll be interested to see if the Whoniverse starts using Twitter when the next specials are broadcast…

  3. The interesting thing about the Don Draper twitter persona is that it was a fan, not the TV company, who created it (see http://paulisakson.typepad.com/planning/2008/11/don_draper-twitter.html for details). I think the same is true for most of the other Mad Men twitterers (although AMC have now adopted Don).

  4. I’ve written about the onsite interactive experience (http://digitalstuffing.com/2008/11/survivors-the-interactive-experience/) but did not touch the Twitter account and wiki as I was not convinced it is part of the ‘offical’ stuff because it is SO bad. I can understand them delaying things because they have not finished in time, but the additional content in that poor shape is very poor.

Comments are closed.