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{{Infobox Television
BlakeLiberator

| show_name = Blake's 7 | image = File:B7-Logo1.jpg | caption = The logo used for the first three series of Blake's 7 | format = Science fiction
Space opera | camera = Multi-camera | picture_format = 625 line (576i) PAL 4:3 | audio_format = monaural | runtime = c. 50 minutes per episode | creator = Terry Nation | producer = David Maloney (series 1-3)
Vere Lorrimer (series 4) | starring = Glynis Barber
Jan Chappell
Brian Croucher
Paul Darrow
Stephen Greif
David Jackson
Michael Keating
Sally Knyvette
Steven Pacey
Jacqueline Pearce
Josette Simon
Gareth Thomas
Peter Tuddenham | theme_music_composer = Dudley Simpson | country = Template:UK | language = English | network = BBC1 | first_aired = 2 January 1978 | last_aired = 21 December 1981 | num_series = 4 | num_episodes = 52 | list_episodes = List of Blake's 7 episodes | website = http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/blakes7/ }}

Blake's 7 is a British science fiction television series produced by the BBC for its BBC1 channel. Created by Terry Nation, a prolific television writer best known for creating the popular Dalek monsters for the television series Doctor Who, it ran for four series between 1978 and 1981. Popular from the time it was first broadcast, it remains well regarded[1] on account of its dystopian tone, moral ambiguity and strong characterisation. It is also remembered for the dramatic ending that concluded the series.

Blake's 7 follows the exploits of a group of political renegades, led by freedom fighter Roj Blake, and consisting initially of Blake, Jenna Stannis and Kerr Avon. They escape from a prison transport spacecraft and occupy an abandoned spacecraft called by them Liberator with a main computer called Zen. Vila Restal and Olag Gan are rescued from the prison planet Cygnus Alpha and are later joined by the alien telepath Cally. Later, a supercomputer called Orac is procured. Gan is killed during the second series. After the second series, Blake and Jenna disappear and are replaced by new characters Dayna Mellanby and Del Tarrant. In the fourth series, Cally dies and is replaced by a new character, Soolin, and following the destruction of the Liberator, the computer Slave. The group are pursued through space by Space Commander - and later renegade - Travis and Servalan, Supreme Commander and later President of the Terran Federation.

OverviewEdit

Set in the "third century of the second calendar",[2] Blake's 7 follows the exploits of revolutionary Roj Blake as he leads his band of rebels against the forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation which rules the Earth and many of the planets of the galaxy. The Federation controls its citizens using mass surveillance, brainwashing and pacification with drugged food, water and air. Sentenced to deportation to a penal colony on a remote planet, Blake escapes with the help of his fellow prisoners and gains control of the Liberator, an alien spacecraft far in advance of anything the Federation possesses. The craft has superior speed and weaponry and a teleport system that allows crew members to be transported to the surface of a planet without having to land the ship. Blake and his crew then attempt to disrupt and damage the Federation.

While Blake is an idealistic freedom fighter, his associates are petty crooks, smugglers and killers. Notably, Kerr Avon is a technical genius more interested in self-preservation and seeking personal wealth than engaging in rebellion. When Blake is separated from his crew, Avon takes over, confirming the inherent duality in his personality and the loyalty he had for Blake's vision. However, Avon remains a target for Federation forces.

Although many of the tropes of space opera such as spaceships, robots, galactic empires and aliens are present, the series is primarily noted for its strong character interaction, ambiguous morality and pessimistic tone.[3]

The series was originally planned to conclude at the end of its third series, but was unexpectedly and suddenly re-commissioned for a further series.[4] Some changes to the programme's format were necessary, such as the introduction of a new spacecraft, Scorpio. Aware that renewal for a fifth series was unlikely, the production team devised a memorable conclusion for the series which left the fates of the main characters highly ambiguous. Because of this uncertainty, events following the final episode have been the subject of much speculation and debate among aficionados of the series. Template:Fact

Cast of charactersEdit

File:Blake's 7 cast 2004-1.jpg
File:Blake's 7 cast 2004-2.jpg

The first three episodes introduced the following main characters:

  • Roj Blake portrayed by Gareth Thomas. Blake is a political dissident, who was captured after attending a proscribed political meeting outside the Domed City. Blake is framed on child molestation charges and sentenced to deportation to a penal colony on Cygnus Alpha, a remote planet.
  • Vila Restal portrayed by Michael Keating. Vila is a cowardly thief with a skill for lock-picking and conjuring. Vila is usually reluctant to risk his life for Blake's cause.
  • Jenna Stannis portrayed by Sally Knyvette A space smuggler and skilled pilot.
  • Olag Gan portrayed by David Jackson. A convicted murderer, Gan cannot kill enemies because of an electronic implant in his brain to control aggression.
  • Kerr Avon portrayed by Paul Darrow. Avon is an electronics and computer expert and erstwhile fraudster, Avon often clashed with Blake during the series.
  • Zen portrayed by Peter Tuddenham. The main computer aboard Liberator, Zen became a presence and a character in its own right.

The seventh and final member of the original crew (introduced in episode four) was:

As the series continued, other main characters were introduced:

After Thomas and Knyvette left the programme, two new characters were introduced in Series 3:

  • Dayna Mellanby portrayed by Josette Simon. Dayna is a weapons expert and daughter of dissident Hal Mellanby. She was born on Earth but emigrated to Sarran with her father at an early age.
  • Del Tarrant portrayed by Steven Pacey. Tarrant is a former Federation space pilot turned weapons smuggler who boarded Liberator whilst abandoned by its crew.

Following Cally's death and Zen's destruction, two more characters were introduced in Series 4:

  • Soolin portrayed by Glynis Barber. Soolin is a gun-slinger and mercenary. She was girlfriend of Dorian. Soolin's parents were murdered on Gauda Prime, where they emigrated from Earth.
  • Slave portrayed by Peter Tuddenham. Built by Dorian, Slave was the master computer of Dorian's ship 'Scorpio'. It was frequently apologetic and obsequious.[5]

Sources and influencesEdit

Series creator Terry Nation pitched Blake's 7 to the BBC as "The Dirty Dozen in space",[6] a reference to the 1967 Robert Aldrich film in which a disparate and disorganised group of convicts are sent on a suicide mission during World War II. This film's influence shows in the nature of the majority of Blake's followers; Avon, Vila, Gan and Jenna are escaped convicts.

Blake's 7 draws much of its inspiration from the legend of Robin Hood. It follows a small band of outlaws, under a figurehead leader, leading a rebellion against a tyrannical regime.[7] Blake's followers, however, are far from being a band of "Merry Men". His diverse crew includes a corrupt computer genius (Avon), a smuggler (Jenna), a thief (Vila), a murderer (Gan), a telepathic guerilla soldier (Cally), a computer with a mind of its own (Zen) and, later, another wayward computer (Orac). Later additions were: a naive weapons expert (Dayna), a mercenary (Tarrant), a gunslinger (Soolin) and an obsequious computer (Slave).

Thus, while Blake intends to use the Liberator to strike against the Federation, the others are reluctant followers – especially Avon - who is more interested in self-preservation and using the Liberator to obtain personal wealth. Blake and Avon's clashes over the leadership represent a conflict between idealism and cynicism.[8] Similar conflicts arise between other characters, e.g., the courage of Blake and Avon compared with Vila's cowardice, or Avon and Jenna's scepticism of Blake's ideals compared with Gan's unswerving loyalty.

Loyalty and trust are important themes of the series.[9] Avon is presented with several opportunities to abandon Blake. Many of Blake's schemes require the co-operation and expertise of the others. Characters are often betrayed by family and friends – especially Avon, whose former lover, Anna Grant, is eventually revealed to be a Federation agent. The theme of loyalty and trust reaches its climax during Blake and Avon's final encounter in the last episode, Blake, where Avon's inability to trust others leads to Blake's death, and possibly Avon's.[10]

If Blake and his crew represent Robin Hood and his Merry Men, then the Federation forces, personified in the obsessive, psychopathic Space Commander Travis and his superior, the beautiful but ruthless Supreme Commander Servalan, represent Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham.[7]

Script editor Chris Boucher, whose influence on the series grew as it progressed,[9] was inspired by the Central and South American revolutionaries, especially Zapata, in exploring Blake and his followers' motives and the consequences of their actions.[11] This is most evident in the episode Star One, in which Blake must confront the reality that in achieving his aim of overthrowing the Federation, he will unleash chaos and death for many of its innocent citizens.[9] When Avon gains control of the Liberator, following Blake's disappearance after the events of Star One, he initially uses it to pursue his own agenda. Later, Avon realises that he cannot escape the Federation's reach and must, like Blake, resist them. In this respect, by the end of the fourth series, Avon has replaced Blake.[10]

Blake's 7 also draws inspiration from the classic British dystopian novels Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and When the Sleeper Wakes by H. G. Wells.[9] This is most evident in the nature of the Federation, whose methods of dealing with Blake in the first episode, The Way Back, including brainwashing and show trials. These are reminiscent of the manner in which the former Soviet Union dealt with its dissidents.[12] Explorations of totalitarianism in the series are not confined to the Federation – totalitarian control through religion (Cygnus Alpha), genetics (The Web) and technology (Redemption) also appear throughout the series.[12][13] Such authoritarian dystopias are common in Terry Nation's work, appearing in Nation's Doctor Who stories, for example, Genesis of the Daleks.[8]

Another frequent theme in Nation's science fiction is the depiction of post-apocalyptic societies, as seen in several of his Doctor Who serials, for example, The Daleks, Death to the Daleks and The Android Invasion) and also in Survivors, the series he created before Blake's 7.[8] Post-apocalyptic societies are featured in several Blake's 7 episodes including Duel, Deliverance, City at the Edge of the World and Terminal. Although not explicitly stated in the series, some publicity material for the series refers to the Federation as having risen from the ashes of a nuclear holocaust on Earth.[12]

Just as important an influence on Blake's 7 were classic Western films, such as The Magnificent Seven. Chris Boucher incorporated lines from Westerns into the scripts, much to the delight of Paul Darrow, an enthusiast of the genre.[14] The final episode, Blake, was heavily inspired by The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.[15]

Plot summaryEdit

A complete list of episodes with capsule summaries can be found at the list of Blake's 7 episodes.

Series OneEdit

File:B7 Cast A.jpg

Roj Blake, an alpha-grade worker, lives in a domed city. Similar domes house most of the Earth's population. Blake is approached by a group of political dissidents who take him outside the city to meet their leader, Bran Foster. According to Foster, Blake was once the leader of an influential group of political activists opposed to the Federation's Earth Administration. Blake was arrested, brainwashed and coerced into making a confession denouncing the rebellion. His memory of those years was then blocked.

Foster wants Blake to rejoin the dissidents. Suddenly, the meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Federation security forces, who fire on and kill the crowd of rebels. Blake is the only survivor. Returning to the city, his blocked memories start to return. He is arrested, tried on false charges of child molestation and sentenced to deportation to the prison planet Cygnus Alpha.[16]

On the prison ship, London, Blake meets thief Vila Restal, smuggler Jenna Stannis, murderer Olag Gan and computer fraudster Kerr Avon. Following a mysterious space battle, the London encounters a strange alien craft. Efforts to board and salvage it are thwarted by the alien ship's defence mechanism. As a final attempt, the London crew decide to send prisoners Blake, Avon and Jenna across to the ship. Blake overrides the defence system. With Jenna as pilot, the three convicts escape with the alien craft.[17]

Following the London in their captured ship - which they have named Liberator - to Cygnus Alpha, they retrieve Vila and Gan. Blake is determined to use Liberator and its new crew to attack the Federation; the others – especially Avon – are reluctant followers.[18]

Blake's first target is a communications station on the planet Saurion Major. Infiltrating the station, Blake is assisted by Cally, a telepathic guerilla soldier from the planet Auron. Blake invites Cally to join the crew. With this new arrival, and counting the Liberator’s computer, Zen, the Liberator has a crew of seven.[19]

As Blake's attacks against the Federation become bolder and more effective, political pressure grows on the Administration. Supreme Commander Servalan appoints Space Commander Travis, who has a personal vendetta against Blake, to eliminate him and capture the Liberator.[20]

Blake meets a man called Ensor, and uncovers a plot by Servalan and Travis to seize Orac, a powerful device capable of communicating with any computer equipped with a component called a Tariel Cell. Blake and his crew capture the device ahead of Servalan's arrival. To the crew's surprise and alarm, Orac reveals its power and predicts the future. The crew are horrified by Orac's prediction: the Liberator exploding.[21]

Series TwoEdit

BlakeLiberator

The Liberator, the alien starship used by Blake and his crew in series 1 to 3

The race who built the Liberator recaptures it. Orac's prophecy is fulfilled: it is not the Liberator, but a sister-ship that is destroyed by Orac.[22]

Blake, wishing to attack the heart of the Federation, targets the central computer control centre on Earth. Avon agrees to help on the condition that Blake gives him the Liberator once the Federation has been destroyed. Blake, Avon, Vila and Gan reach the control centre and find an empty room. Travis reveals that the computer centre was secretly moved years before, and the old location left as a decoy for the Federation's enemies. Blake and his crew escape, but Gan is killed when Travis explodes a grenade.[23]

While Blake ponders the future of the rebellion following Gan's death, Travis is found guilty of war crimes in a Federation court martial at Space Command Headquarters. Blake decides to restore the group's unstoppable reputation by attacking the Headquarters, but Travis escapes from the court and continues his vendetta against Blake.[24] Meanwhile, Blake seeks the new location of the computer control centre. He learns that it is now called Star One.[25]

When the Star One control centre begins to malfunction, Servalan also becomes desperate to find its location. The centre's failure causes many problems across the Federation. Star One controls a large defensive barrier that has prevented extra-galactic incursions. Blake discovers Star One's location, and finds that aliens from the Andromeda galaxy, aided by Travis, have infiltrated it. Vila discovers a fleet of spacecraft beyond the barrier. Travis disables the barrier. Blake and his crew overcome the aliens at Star One, and kill Travis. Star One is destroyed by the Andromedans, allowing them to invade. Blake uses the Liberator to delay the alien fleet, and calls for help from the Federation, where Servalan has imposed martial law and declared herself President. Servalan despatches the Federation's battle fleets to repel the invaders.[26]

Series ThreeEdit

File:B7 Cast C.jpg
File:B7Servalan.jpeg

The Liberator is severely damaged during the battle with the Andromedans, forcing the crew to abandon ship. The Federation defeats the alien invaders, but has sustained heavy casualties and its influence in the galaxy is considerably reduced.[27]

Blake and Jenna go missing; Avon takes control of the Liberator. The remaining crew are joined by two new additions: weapons expert Dayna Mellanby and mercenary Del Tarrant.[28] Avon is less inclined than Blake to attack the Federation, but Servalan realises that her capture of the Liberator would enable the quick restoration of the Federation's power.[29]

Servalan's attempt to create clones of herself is thwarted and the clone embryos are destroyed. Servalan, suffering from "psychic miscarriage", swaps her trademark white clothes for the black of mourning.[30]

Avon decides to hunt the Federation agent who killed Anna Grant, his former partner. Interrupting an attempt to overthrow Servalan, Avon discovers that Anna is alive, and had been a Federation agent named Bartolemew. Avon kills Anna and frees Servalan.[31]

Servalan lures Avon into a trap using a faked message from Blake. The Liberator, and Zen, have been irreparably damaged by a cloud of fluid particles. Servalan captures the Liberator and abandons the crew on the planet Terminal. As Servalan leaves Terminal in Liberator, it explodes, apparently killing Servalan during an attempt to escape by teleport. The Liberator crew are stranded on Terminal, and begin the search for a means of escape.[32]

Series FourEdit

File:B7 season4 blake.jpg
B7Scorpio

Scorpio, the Wanderer class cargo ship used in series 4

Booby traps set by Servalan in her underground complex on Terminal explode, killing Cally. Avon and the surviving crew escape, and are rescued by salvage operator, Dorian. Dorian takes them to his base on the planet Xenon in his spacecraft, Scorpio. There they meet Soolin, Dorian's partner. He plans to take Orac and drain the crew's life-force, but is foiled by Vila. [33]

Using the technology left by Dorian, Avon constructs a new teleport system for Scorpio. Soolin joins the crew, who take over Scorpio and occupy the Xenon base. Avon gains control of the Scorpio's onboard computer, Slave.[34]

The crew acquires a stardrive, which vastly increases Scorpio's speed.[35] Becoming concerned with the speed at which the Federation is reclaiming its former territory, the Scorpio crew discover that Servalan has survived the destruction of the Liberator. Having been deposed as President, Servalan is using the pseudonym Commissioner Sleer, and is enacting a pacification programme using a drug called Pylene 50. The crew gain the drug's antidote.[36]

Fearing that the Federation's continued expansion would soon reach their haven on Xenon, the Scorpio crew attempt to create an alliance between the independent worlds to resist the Federation. They plan large-scale manufacture of the Pylene 50 antidote. One of the alliance members, Zukan, betrays the alliance to Servalan. Zukan detonates explosives and Xenon base is heavily damaged.[37]

Avon reveals Orac has traced Blake to the agricultural world, Gauda Prime, where Blake is masquerading as a bounty hunter. Blake's latest quarry is Arlen, whom he hopes to recruit for his rebellion. Approaching the planet, the Scorpio is attacked. With the exception of Tarrant, the crew abandon the heavily damaged craft by teleport. Tarrant is wounded but survives as the craft crash-lands in woodland. Blake rescues Tarrant, and takes him to Blake's base, where he purportedly captures Tarrant as bounty. Tarrant escapes, and tells Avon that Blake has betrayed them to the Federation. Avon shoots and kills Blake. Arlen reveals herself to be a Federation officer, and Federation guards arrive. Tarrant, Soolin, Vila and Dayna fall to the floor, apparently shot. The guards surround Avon, who steps over Blake's body, raises his gun and smiles. Shots ring out.[38]

Production historyEdit

Main article: History of Blake's 7

Blake's 7 was created by Terry Nation. Nation was inspired during a pitch meeting with Ronnie Marsh, a Drama executive at the BBC. Intrigued by the idea, Marsh immediately commissioned Nation for a pilot script and, satisfied with the draft scripts, Marsh approved Blake's 7 for full development.[39]

David Maloney, an experienced BBC director, was assigned to produce the series. Chris Boucher was engaged as script editor. With Terry Nation commissioned to write the first thirteen-episode series, Boucher's task was to expand and develop Nation's first drafts into effective scripts. Boucher's task became increasingly difficult as Nation started running out of ideas. Meanwhile, Maloney had difficulty working with a schedule and budget unsuited to an action and special effects-heavy programme like Blake's 7. Despite these challenges, Blake's 7 was popular, with some episodes exceeding ten million viewers, and was quickly renewed for a second series.[39]

New writers were engaged for the second and later series onwards. Difficulties with the scripts affected plans for a story arc that would run through the series. The decision was made that one of the regular characters would die, to show to viewers that Blake and his crew were not indestructible. The character of Gan, played by David Jackson, was chosen because the character had been under-used, and was the least popular among viewers. Although ratings were lower than the previous series', a third series was commissioned.[39]

The production team faced a major challenge when Gareth Thomas, who played Blake, decided not return for the third series. New characters were required in order to continue without its titular character. Sally Knyvette also opted not to return as Jenna. Ideas for a replacement Blake character were rejected and the character of Avon became more prominent from this series forward. New characters Del Tarrant, played by Steven Pacey, and Dayna Mellanby, played by Josette Simon, were introduced.[39]

Blake's 7 was expected to finish in 1980, after its third series. To the surprise of all concerned, it was announced over the end credits of the last episode that Blake's 7 would return the following year. Bill Cotton, the BBC's Head of Television was watching Terminal during its broadcast and had greatly enjoyed it. He telephoned the BBC's presentation department and ordered them to make the announcement.[4]

With David Maloney unavailable, Vere Lorrimer became the programme's producer. Lorrimer oversaw the introduction of new characters and a new spacecraft, Scorpio, with its computer, Slave (voiced by Peter Tuddenham). Jan Chappell, who played Cally, decided that she did not want to return. She was replaced by Glynis Barber, playing a new character, Soolin.

Gareth Thomas made a final appearance as Blake, insisting that the character be killed off in a definitive manner, for the last episode. Although the fourth series performed satisfactorily in the ratings, Blake's 7 was not renewed for a fifth year and viewers were left with an unresolved cliffhanger when the final episode, Blake, was broadcast on 21 December 1981.[39]

MusicEdit

Signature musicEdit

Blake's 7's signature music was written by Australian composer Dudley Simpson, who had composed music for the BBC's Doctor Who for over ten years. The same recording of Simpson's theme was used for the opening titles of all four series of the show.[40] For the fourth series, a new recording was made for the closing credits, using an easy listening style arrangement.[41]

Simpson also provided the incidental music for 50 of the 52 episodes, the exceptions being the Series 1 episode "Duel" and the Series 2 episode "Gambit". "Duel" was directed by the late Douglas Camfield, who bore a personal grudge against Simpson and refused to work with him.[42] For "Gambit", Elizabeth Parker provided the music and the 'special sound' for the episode.Template:Fact

Special soundEdit

As well as traditional acoustic foley effects, Blake's 7 made considerable use of audio effects, described in the series' credits as special sound. An extensive selection of electronically-generated sound effects were used. These ranged from spot foley-style effects for props like handguns, the Liberator and Scorpio teleports, engines, and flight-console buttons to background atmospheres - ambient textures present throughout in certain sets or locations - and occasional incidental music, notably on the episodes "Duel" and "Gambit".

The special sounds for Blake's 7 were provided by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with Richard Yeoman-Clark working on the series until the mid-series B episode "Gambit", when Elizabeth Parker took over and continued for the remainder of the series. Many of these effects were released on the compilation album BBC Sound Effects No. 26 - Sci-Fi Sound Effects.Template:Fact One of these compilation album effects, "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld became the title of song by The Orb.Template:Fact

Critical receptionEdit

The fourth episode of the first series, Time Squad, was reviewed by Stanley Reynolds, the television critic of The Times newspaper, the day following its broadcast. Reynolds commented that it was "...nice to hear the youngsters holding their breath in anticipation of a little terror." He elaborated that: "Television science fiction has got too self-consciously jokey lately. It is also nice to have each episode complete within itself, while still carrying on the saga of Blake's struggle against the 1984-ish Federation. But is that dark-haired telepathic alien girl, the latest addition to Blake's outer-space merry men, going to spell love trouble for blonde Jenna? Maid Marian never had that trouble in Sherwood Forest."[43]

In January 1998, The Independent newspaper published a feature on the series by journalist Robert Hanks, to coincide with the programme's twentieth anniversary, and the broadcast of the BBC Radio 4 play The Sevenfold Crown. Hanks compared the series' ethos to that of Star Trek, saying that: "If you wanted to sum up the relative position of Britain and America in this century - the ebbing away of the pink areas of the map, the fading of national self-confidence as Uncle Sam proceeded to colonise the globe with fizzy drinks and Hollywood - you could do it like this: they had Star Trek, we had Blake's 7... No "boldly going" here: instead, we got the boot stamping on a human face which George Orwell offered as a vision of humanity's future in Nineteen Eighty-Four." Hanks concluded that: "Blake's 7 has acquired a credibility and popularity Terry Nation can never have expected... I think it's to do with the sheer crappiness of the series and the crappiness it attributes to the universe: it is science-fiction for the disillusioned and ironic - and that is what makes it so very British."[44]

The British Film Institute's "Screenonline" website suggests that "The premise of Blake's 7 held nothing remotely original. The outlaw group resisting a powerful and corrupt regime is an idea familiar from Robin Hood and beyond." However, the entry adds that "Blake's 7's triumph lay in its vivid characters, its tight, pacey plots and its satisfying realism... For arguably the first time since the 1950s Quatermass serials, the BBC had created a popular sci-fi/fantasy show along adult lines." The review concludes: "Ultimately, the one force the rebels could not overcome proved to be the BBC's long-standing apathy towards science fiction. However, the bloody finale, in which Avon murders Blake, exemplified the programme's strengths - fearless narratives, credible but surprising character development and an enormous sense of fun."[45]

On the negative side, broadcaster and critic Clive James calls the series "...classically awful British television SF ... no apostrophe in the title, no sense in the plot. The depraved space queen Servalan, played by the slinky Jacqueline Pearce, could never quite bring herself to volatilize the dimly heroic Blake even when she had him square in the sights of her plasmatic spasm guns. The secret of Blake’s appeal, or Blakes appeal, for the otherwise infallibly fatale Servalan remained a mystery, like the actual wattage of light bulb on which the design of Blake’s spaceship, or Blakes spaceship, was plainly based." [46] Nigel Kneale, writer of The Quatermass Experiment, described the series as "paralytically awful" and added that the "dialogue/characterisation seemed to consist of a kind of childish squabbling." [47]

LegacyEdit

Blake's 7 had an influence on written science-fiction, with the revival of written space opera in the 1990s originating in the UK with writers such as Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, and Iain M. Banks.Template:Fact Television playwright Dennis Potter's final work, Cold Lazarus, was inspired by the show.[48]

Blake's 7's legacyTemplate:Fact to future television and film space opera was the use of moral ambiguity and dysfunctional main characters to create tension, as well as long-term story arcs to aid cohesiveness. These devices can be seen in Babylon 5, Lexx, Andromeda, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Farscape, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly. These programmes contrast with the simple good-versus-evil dualism of Star Wars, or the 'feel-good' tone and unconnected episode structure of early Star Trek and the series' main contemporary, Doctor Who.[9] Blake's 7 also influenced Hyperdrive and Aeon Flux.[49]

Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen was inspired by Blake's 7 in naming his side-project Star One.[50] Also, Star One's album Space Metal features a song called "Intergalactic Space Crusaders" which is based on the series. The Orb's album The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld features a song called "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld" which is a reference to the episode Ultraworld.

Blake's 7 remains highly regarded to this day. A poll of United States science-fiction writers, fans and critics for John Javna's 1987 book The Best of Science Fiction placed the series twenty-fifth in popularity, although the series had only recently begun being broadcast in the USA.[51] A similar poll of British writers, fans and critics for SFX magazine in 1999 put Blake's 7 at sixteenth place, commenting that "20 years on, TV SF is still mapping the paths first explored by Terry Nation's baby".[52] Later, in 2005, SFX polled its readers for their top fifty British telefantasy shows of all time and Blake's 7 made it to number four on the list, beaten only by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf and Doctor Who.[53] Similarly, a readers poll conducted by TV Zone magazine in 2003 for their top one hundred cult television programmes placed Blake's 7 in eleventh position.[54]

In 2004, a short, fifteen minute, comedy film, titled Blake's Junction 7, made its debut at several film festivals around the world. Directed by Ben Gregor and written by Tim Plester, it starred Mackenzie Crook, Martin Freeman, Johnny Vegas, Mark Heap and, reprising the voice of Orac, Peter Tuddenham. This spoof homage depicted the adventures of the infamous seven at the Newport Pagnell motorway service area.[55][56]

The BBC paid tribute to the series with a thirty minute documentary, The Cult of... Blake's 7, first broadcast on 12 December 2006 on BBC Four as part of that channel's Science Fiction Britannia series.[57]

RevivalsEdit

The revival of Blake's 7 has been mooted for some years. Terry Nation raised the possibility on a number of occasions before his death in 1997. Nation proposed that a new series would be set some years after the existing one. The character Avon, living in exile like Napoleon on Elba, would be persuaded by a new group of rebels to take up arms against the Federation again.[58]

AudioEdit

In 1998, Blake's 7 returned to the BBC on the radio. The Sevenfold Crown was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 17 January 1998 as part of its Playhouse strand. The play was produced by Brian Lighthill and written by Barry Letts. Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, Steven Pacey, Peter Tuddenham and Jacqueline Pearce all reprised their television roles. However Josette Simon and Glynis Barber were replaced by Angela Bruce as Dayna and Paula Wilcox as Soolin. The story was set during series 4 between the episodes Stardrive and Animals. This was followed up by The Syndeton Experiment, which featured the same cast, producer and writer, and was broadcast, as The Saturday Play, on 10 April 1999, on BBC Radio 4.[59]

On 11 December 2006 B7 Productions announced that they had recorded a series of thirty-six five minute Blake's 7 audio adventures written by Ben Aaronovitch, Marc Platt and James Swallow, calling it a "...radical new re-interpretation of Terry Nation's original series".Template:Fact The series featured Derek Riddell Blake, Colin Salmon as Avon and Daniela Nardini as Servalan with Craig Kelly, Carrie Dobro, Michael Praed, Doug Bradley and India Fisher. [60] B7 Productions have also indicated it remains their intention to bring about a live action revival.[61]

Alan Stevens' audio cassettesEdit

Alan Stevens, later of Magic Bullet Productions[62] produced three unofficial audio cassettes between 1991 and 1998.[63] Travis: The Final Act, is a documentary about the eponymous Space Commander, narrated by Peter Miles and featuring interviews with Stephen Greif, Brian Croucher, Chris Boucher and David Maloney. The documentary explores the character's origins, his motivations and the causes of his eventual betrayal of the Terran Federation.[64] In 1996, Stevens released The Mark of Kane, featuring two interlinked stories; War Crimes follows Travis' treachery against the Terran Federation, and his encounter with Kane and Royce, a pair of bounty hunters. The second story, Friendly Fire, is set on Gauda Prime. Gareth Thomas, as Blake, is posing as a bounty hunter and teams up with colleague Tando to lead fellow bounty hunter Kane into a trap.[65] The Logic of Empire, released in 1998, features Jacqueline Pearce and Paul Darrow in their original roles and a cameo appearance from Gareth Thomas. Avon has been recruited by a rebel group led by Lydon for a heist, but all is not as it seems.[66]

Peripherally related to Blake's 7, the Kaldor City audio plays, created by Chris Boucher and produced by Stevens' Magic Bullet Productions, link the Blake's 7 universe into Boucher's Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death through the use of psychostrategist Carnell (Scott Fredericks), who first appeared in the Blake's 7 episode Weapon.

TelevisionEdit

In April 2000, it was announced that producer Andrew Mark Sewell had bought the rights to the series from the estate of Terry Nation and was planning a TV movie set 20 years after the original series had concluded.[67] In July 2003, it was announced that Paul Darrow, along with Sewell and Simon Moorhead, was part of a consortium, called B7 Enterprises, that had acquired the rights and were planning a TV miniseries budgeted at $5–6 million. Paul Darrow would be the only returning star from the original series, which would be set 25 years on from the events of Blake, and would appear on TV screens by Spring 2005, depending on "many factors, not least financing".[68] Paul Darrow subsequently left the project in December 2003, citing "artistic differences".[69] A press release from B7 Enterprises on 31 October 2005 announcing the appointment of Drew Kaza as Non-Executive Chairman of the company also listed two Blake's 7 projects under development: Blake's 7: Legacy, a two part, three hour mini-series to be written by Ben Aaronovitch and D. Dominic Devine and Blake's 7: The Animated Adventures, a 26-part children's animated adventure series to be written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Marc Platt and James Swallow.[70] In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, writer and producer Matthew Graham, best known as the co-creator of the television series Life on Mars, revealed that he had been involved in discussions to bring Blake's 7 back. Graham's notion for the series proposed that a group of young rebels would rescue Avon, who has been kept cryogenically frozen by Servalan, and then roam the galaxy in a new ship christened the Liberator. It is not clear whether this proposal was related to the B7 Enterprises effort.[71]

On 24 April 2008, Sky One announced that they had commissioned two 60-minute scripts for a potential series, working alongside B7 Productions, a subsidiary of B7 Media who owns the licence to the show.[72]

MerchandiseEdit

Terry Nation had done well financially from the commercial exploitation of Doctor Who’s Daleks and so was aware from the outset of the potential for merchandise related to Blake's 7.[73] Nation and his agent, Roger Hancock, had discussed the matter with Ray Williams of BBC Merchandising as early as December 1976. By May 1977, up to twenty-seven items of merchandise had been proposed by companies including Palitoy, Letraset and Airfix. In the end only a few of the items proposed made it to the shops.[6]

Toys and modelsEdit

A small number of toys – including a model Liberator by Corgi and a Federation handgun that fired ping-pong balls – were released as well as jigsaws, badges and patches during the show's run.[74] Comet Miniatures produced a range of kits in the late 1980s and early 1990s including the Liberator, a clip gun (from series 4), a Federation trooper and Liberator and Scorpio teleport bracelets.[39]

The children's magazine programme Blue Peter offered a cheaper, home-made, alternative to fans wanting merchandise. In the edition broadcast on 23 February 1978, presenter Lesley Judd demonstrated how to create a replica Liberator teleport bracelet from common household objects. This was followed up by an item, on 6 June 1983, when presenter Janet Ellis demonstrated a similar method of making a replica Scorpio bracelet.[39]

MusicEdit

Dudley Simpson's theme music was also released as a single, backed with The Federation March, a piece of incidental music from the episode Redemption.[39]

Books and magazinesEdit

The first publication was a novelisation of the first four episodes, titled Blake's 7, written by Trevor Hoyle, who later wrote the episode Ultraworld, and published in late 1977, shortly before the series debuted on television. Hoyle published two further novelisations – Blake's 7: Project Avalon (1979, novelising the series one episodes Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel, Project Avalon, Deliverance and Orac) and Blake's 7: Scorpio Attack (1981, novelising the series four episodes Rescue, Traitor and Stardrive).[75]

World Distributors produced a Blake's 7 Annual for the years 1979, 1980 and 1981. During the fourth series, Marvel UK began publishing Blake's 7 Magazine, a sister publication to its Doctor Who Magazine, from October 1981. The magazine, which included a comic strip by Ian Kennedy, ran for twenty-three issues (as well as two specials) until August 1983.[75] Marvel returned to the series in 1994 and 1995 with two specials, mostly written by television historian Andrew Pixley, that covered the making of the series as well as the short-lived Blake's 7 Poster Magazine that ran for seven issues between December 1994 and May 1995.[76]

Merchandise continued to appear after the series had ended. Tony Attwood's Blake's 7: The Programme Guide, published by Target in 1982, is a factual overview of the series, including a detailed episode guide, an encyclopedia and interviews with the cast and writers. It was re-issued by Virgin Books in 1994.[77] Afterlife, also by Tony Attwood and published by Target in 1984, was an original novel set after the final episode. Another original novel, Avon: A Terrible Aspect by Paul Darrow, which told the story of Avon's early years before he met Blake, was published in 1989.[75]

Several books offering critical insight and behind the scenes information on Blake's 7 have been issued. Blake's 7: The Complete Guide by Adrian Rigelsford (Boxtree, 1995); Blake's 7: The Inside Story by Joe Nazzaro and Sheelagh Wells (who worked on the series as a make-up designer) (Virgin, 1997); A History and Critical Analysis of Blake's 7 by John Kenneth Muir (McFarland and Company, 1999) and Liberation. The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Blake's 7 by Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore (Telos, 2003).[78]

Video and DVD releasesEdit

The BBC began issuing Blake's 7 on videotape from 1985. The initial releases, which were made available on both VHS and Betamax (first three releases only) formats, comprised four compilation tapes containing selected episodes from the first three series edited down into a c. 90 minute "movie" format.

Starting in 1991, the entire series was released, in order, on VHS with two episodes per tape over twenty-six volumes.[39] In 1997, an independent company, Fabulous Films, re-issued the tapes in different packaging. As the DVD format grew in popularity, the BBC, along with Fabulous Films, planned to issue the series in series box sets. These plans were disrupted by conflicts with rights-holders B7 Enterprises. These issues were eventually resolved and the series was released, in Region 2, at a rate of one series per year, between 2003 and 2006. In 2007, Amazon sold a combined four-series box set with special packaging. A casualty of the difficulties with Blake's 7 Enterprises was The Making of Blake's 7, a four-part documentary directed by Kevin Davies, intended as an extra feature with each DVD release. B7 Enterprises stated that they "did not feel [the documentary] provided a proper tribute or fresh retrospective of the show".[79] The DVDs did feature some extras, including bloopers, outtakes, alternative scenes, voiceover commentaries, interviews, and some behind the scenes footage.

Region 1 release of the original series DVDs has been shelved indefinitely by 2Entertain, Inc., current rights holders for the property, as not commercially viable in the US market. Latest information suggests that format will never be released while 2Entertain holds rights.Template:Fact

See alsoEdit

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Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Template:Cite news
  2. The reference to Blake’s 7 being set in the "third century of the second calendar" does not appear in the series proper, but is mentioned in the publicity material associated with the series (although the Federation introducing a 'new calendar' is mentioned in the episode Pressure Point). (Template:Cite journal)
  3. Template:Cite book
  4. 4.0 4.1 Template:Cite book
  5. Template:Cite book
  6. 6.0 6.1 Template:Cite journal
  7. 7.0 7.1 Template:Cite book
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Template:Cite book
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Template:Cite book
  10. 10.0 10.1 Template:Cite book
  11. Template:Cite book
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Template:Cite book
  13. Template:Cite book
  14. Template:Cite book
  15. Template:Cite journal
  16. Nation, Terry (writer) & Briant, Michael E. (director). (1978) The Way Back (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1978-01-02
  17. Nation, Terry (writer) & Roberts, Pennant (director). (1978) Space Fall (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1978-01-09
  18. Nation, Terry (writer) & Lorrimer, Vere (director). (1978) Cygnus Alpha (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1978-01-16
  19. Nation, Terry (writer) & Roberts, Pennant (director). (1978) Time Squad (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1978-01-23
  20. Nation, Terry (writer) & Lorrimer, Vere (director). (1978) Seek-Locate-Destroy (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1978-02-06
  21. Nation, Terry (writer) & Lorrimer, Vere (director). (1978) Orac (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1978-03-27
  22. Nation, Terry (writer) & Lorrimer, Vere (director). (1979) Redemption (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1979-09-01
  23. Nation, Terry (writer) & Spenton-Foster, George (director). (1979) Pressure Point (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1979-02-09
  24. Boucher, Chris (writer) & Martinus, Derek (director). (1979) Trial (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1979-02-13
  25. Nation, Terry (writer) & Lorrimer, Vere (director). (1979) Countdown (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1979-03-6
  26. Boucher, Chris (writer) & Maloney, David (director – uncredited). (1979) Star One (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1979-04-03
  27. Nation, Terry (writer) & Lorrimer, Vere (director). (1980) Aftermath (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1980-01-07
  28. Nation, Terry (writer) & Maloney, David (director - uncredited). (1980) Powerplay (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1980-01-07
  29. Prior, Allan (writer) & McCarthy, Desmond (director). (1980) Volcano (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1980-01-14
  30. Parkes, Roger (writer) & Morgan, Andrew (director). (1980) Children of Auron (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1980-02-19
  31. Boucher, Chris (writer) & Cumming, Fiona (director). (1980) Rumours of Death (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1980-02-25
  32. Nation, Terry (writer) & Ridge, Mary (director). (1980) Terminal (Television series episode). In Maloney, David (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1980-03-31
  33. Boucher, Chris (writer) & Ridge, Mary (director). (1981) Rescue (Television series episode). In Lorrimer, Vere (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1981-09-28
  34. Steed, Ben (writer) & Ridge, Mary (director). (1981) Power (Television series episode). In Lorrimer, Vere (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1981-10-05
  35. Follet, Jim (writer) & Proudfoot, David Sullivan (director). (1981) Stardrive (Television series episode). In Lorrimer, Vere (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1981-10-19
  36. Holmes, Robert (writer) & Proudfoot, David Sullivan (director). (1981) Traitor (Television series episode). In Lorrimer, Vere (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1981-10-12
  37. Masters, Simon (writer) & Ritelis, Viktors (director). (1981) Warlord (Television series episode). In Lorrimer, Vere (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1981-12-14
  38. Boucher, Chris (writer) & Ridge, Mary (director). (1981) Blake (Television series episode). In Lorrimer, Vere (producer), Blake's 7, London: BBC, 1981-12-21
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 39.8 Pixley, Andrew (1995). Blake's 7 Summer Special. ISSN 1353-761X
  40. http://www.dudleysimpson.com/discography.htm%7CDudley Simpson Discography
  41. Details largely taken from documentary included Blake's 7 series 4 DVD
  42. Doctor Who Magazine, 17 December 1997, cited at All Experts
  43. Template:Cite news
  44. Template:Cite news
  45. Template:Cite web
  46. *James, Clive. "Clive James's literary education in sludge fiction", Times Online, 14 December 2005. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  47. Template:Web cite
  48. Template:Cite book
  49. "Forever Avon" special feature on the Blakes 7 series 4 UK DVD
  50. Arjen Lucassen website
  51. Template:Cite book
  52. Template:Cite journal
  53. Template:Cite journal
  54. Template:Cite journal
  55. Template:Imdb title
  56. Template:Cite web
  57. Template:Cite video
  58. Nazzaro, Joe (September 1992). "Terry Nation's Blake's 7 Part Two". TV Zone (34): p28-30. ISSN 0957-3844.
  59. Pixley, Andrew (2004). Blake's 7. The Radio Adventures [CD liner notes]. London: BBC Audiobooks
  60. Template:Cite web
  61. Template:Cite web
  62. Magic Bullet Productions |http://www.kaldorcity.com/aboutus.html%7CRetrieved 22 April 2008
  63. Review of 'The Mark of Kane' |http://www.hermit.org/Blakes7/Merchant/Tapes/MarkKane.html |Retrieved 22 April 2008
  64. Travis: The Final Act|http://www.kaldorcity.com/audios//b7/travis/index.html%7C Retrieved 22 April 2008
  65. The Mark of Kane http://www.kaldorcity.com/audios//b7/kane/index.html%7C Retrieved 22 April 2008
  66. The Logic of Empire http://www.kaldorcity.com/audios//b7/logic/index.html%7C Retrieved 22 April 2008
  67. Template:Cite news
  68. Template:Cite news
  69. Template:Cite web
  70. Template:Cite web
  71. Template:Cite journal
  72. Template:Cite news
  73. Bignell, Jonathan; O'Day, Andrew (2004). "Biographical sketch", Terry Nation. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, p9-24. ISBN 978-0719065477.
  74. Template:Cite web
  75. 75.0 75.1 75.2 Template:Cite journal
  76. Template:Cite web
  77. Template:Cite book
  78. Template:Cite web
  79. Template:Cite web

External linksEdit

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