Blakes 7 retrospective and thoughts on fandom

I was 11 years old when Blake’s 7 first appeared on British TV and I still
remember the buzz it caused. The only competing science fiction shows of the
time were Star Trek and Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 captured the imagination of a
generation. I even remember the headmaster at my junior school using Blakes 7
as an example of something during one assembly (although I can no longer
remember the point the headmaster was trying to make).

Several years after the series finished the BBC released it on video - I
wanted to buy them but didn’t have the money. I’m glad of that now as having
to wait meant I could buy each series as a DVD box set rather than a shelf-
full of bulky VHS video.

Another advantage of having to wait is that I have been able to rediscover
Blake’s 7 together with my children. My 8 year-old son finds it scary in
places but has been enjoying it. I was a little nervous at first because
Blake’s 7 has a reputation for poor quality special effects (it was produced
on a ridiculously small budget and so the special effects were cheap even at
the time) and in the thirty years since the end of the series technology has
improved considerably. Thankfully, even though the effects are dodgy in places
the characters, storyline and the dialogue make it all worth watching.

The most memorable character has to be Kerr
- the perfect cynical foil to
the idealistic Roj Blake. In fact
one thing that makes the whole cast of “good guys” stand out is that, apart
from the principled Blake they all have their own agenda and there is sense
that rather than being on a mission the crew is just a temporary alliance of

The main antagonist is Servalan the
leader of the Federation’s (an oppressive regime run from Earth) military
force. Servalan is notable not just for her seductive aspect and relentless
unprincipled pursuit of power but because, unlike many modern day fictional
villains (for which low IQ seems part of the job description), she is
intelligent and despite Blake and his crew having more advanced technology at
their disposal they never manage to achieve victory over the Federation.
Servalan is aided by
Travis) who seems much
more of a comic book henchman - brutal and very one-dimensional.

The Liberator) is
possibly the coolest science fiction spacecraft ever, for me it is at least as
iconic as the Starhip Enterprise. Another feature of Blake’s 7 is that the
Liberator was controlled by an artificial
(AI), called
Zen). Unlike contemporary
Star Trek episodes (as I recall anyway) in which a lot of button pushing goes
on, the crew of the Liberator use voice commands and engage in a dialog with
Zen. After the Liberator is destroyed the ship used in the final series,
Scorpio), is also AI
controlled by the more obsequious Slave. A third AI,
Orac), also appears in the
series - Orac is notable for being bad tempered and preferring to be left to
its own devices.

Whilst indulging in a rush of Blake’s 7 nostalgia I came across an interview
with Paul Darrow (the actor who
plays Avon) which is worth watching (see links at end). Mr Darrow makes
several interesting points including that since Kerr Avon was not the lead
character Darrow had much more freedom in playing Avon and so whereas Blake
had to be the good guy Darrow was able to make Avon a more ambiguous and much
more interesting character. Darrow also commented that Avon was a tragic
character who ends up killing the only woman he ever loved (who turns out to
have been a Federation agent) and the only friend he ever had (Blake).

A consortium bought the rights for Blake’s 7 and their have been plans for a
sequel and then, later a remake but so far the only thing that has come of
this is a series of audio episodes. B7 Productions
announced in August 2010 that its partner Sky1 has dropped plans to
commission a remake
. Paul Darrow also wrote Avon a terrible
a novel about Avon’s early life before circumstances throw him together with

When you enjoy something there is always a desire to have more of it. In the
case of TV series, films or books when you can’t actually make more of the
thing yourself fandom and finding out the depths of the story can seem very
enticing as can hints of a new series. But ultimately these are things that
can take a lot of time and not give much in return - best to just enjoy the
thing for what it is, revisit it occasionally but move on rather than obsess
about it.