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Friday, 22 February 2008 07:32

Blake's 7

BBC Science Fiction goes for characters over effects...


UK (BBC) - 1978-81 - 52 episodes (50 mins) – colour

Devised by Terry Nation, creator of Doctor Who’s iconic hoodlums, The Daleks, and the post-apocalyptic Survivors, the adventure within Blake's 7 can be assessed as one of the UK's few successful attempts to produce a serious, adult, science fiction opus.

A variation on the format of "The Magnificent Seven", Blake's 7 took place in a grim future, devoid of individual freedom of expression, where Earth is ruled over by the totalitarian Federation. Sentenced to a penal colony, former resistance leader Blake escapes his captors, with an assortment of prisoners in tow, in an abandoned, technologically advanced alien ship, christened Liberator, waging war against their evil oppressors.

For once the low budget that had become a signature of most home-grown fantasy worked in the show's favour, as stories had to put more emphasis on character. Not every member of the ship shared their leader's idealistic views, especially when they were fighting such impossible odds, and the seven usually fought amongst themselves as much as they battled against the Federation.

Overturning television format dramatic conventions, Blake's 7 has not been averse to killing off its lead characters. When Blake went missing in action at the end of the second season, his place was taken by the cynical and self-serving Avon, whose opposition to the Federation, now personalised in the form of Supreme Commander Servalan, was ambiguous at best. The controversial final episode packed an astonishing, twist, creating viewer reaction and confusion on a par with the final episode of The Prisoner, some 15 years earlier.

Gareth Thomas as Roj Blake
Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon
Sally Knyvette as Jenna Stannis
Michael Keating as Villa Restal
Jan Chappell as Cally
David Jackson as Olag Gan
Peter Tuddenham as Voice of Zen/Orac/Slave
Jaqueline Pearce as Servalan
Stephen Greif as Travis (season 1)
Brian Croucher as Travis (season 2 onwards)
Steven Pacey as Del Tarrant
Josette Simon as Dayna Mellanby
Glynis Barber as Soolin


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