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Blake's Seven

Entry updated 7 August 2023. Tagged: TV.

UK tv series (1978-1981). BBC TV. Created by Terry Nation. Producers David Maloney (seasons 1-3), Vere Lorrimer (season 4). Script editor Chris Boucher. Writers included Nation (all episodes in the first season), Boucher, James Follett, Robert Holmes, Tanith Lee. Cast includes Jan Chappell (Cally), Brian Croucher (Travis; season 2), Paul Darrow, Stephen Grief (Travis; season 1), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan) and Gareth Thomas. 52 50-minute episodes. Colour.

The series – whose title is given on-screen as Blakes Seven (sans apostrophe) – began rather crudely with some hoary sf Clichés (political rebels against the totalitarian Federation are sent to a Prison planet) but picked up considerably in later episodes of the first season, where Blake (Thomas) and his allies take part in spirited Space-Opera adventures in a miraculous Spaceship (later to be operated by an ill-tempered Computer called Orac) which they find conveniently abandoned in space. Although free-spirited rebels versus oppressive empire is a theme straight from Star Wars (1977) – coincidentally, since the UK premiere of both was on the same day – the feeling is very different. Blake's crew are quarrelsome, depressive, pessimistic and – especially Avon (Darrow) – cynical. Blake himself disappeared at the end of the second season, to reappear, apparently now on the wrong side, only at the very end. After the first season Blake's Seven degenerated into sub-Doctor Who tackiness, with much popping off of Ray Guns in extraterrestrial quarries and poaching of secondhand plots, e.g. from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (July 1890 Lippincott's Monthly; exp 1891). The fourth season wound up on a depressing note as the bulk of the somewhat-changed cast was killed off by the Villains. Despite this falling off, the series was addictive, and notable for the sense of doomed helplessness with which the rebels managed to inflict mere pin-pricks on the seemingly indestructible Federation – no doubt a reflection of the times, and seemingly not too off-putting for the audience, for Blake's Seven developed a large and passionate fan following, which it still retains.

Novel ties to the series have been published by Tony Attwood, Paul Darrow, Trevor Hoyle and Kate Orman, whom see. [PN/KN]

see also: BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

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