Blake’s 7, 1978

As with many sci-fi programs, Blake’s 7 has gained cult status among TV fans.  Produced for the BBC, with a more adult audience in mind (it went out Monday evenings) it ran for four series.

The series was created by Terry Nation.  This was Terry Nation’s second foray into the world of Sci-Fi, having being responsible in the 1960’s for creating legendary Doctor Who foe – the Daleks, not bad for a former gag writer.

From it’s first transmission the show was a success, attracting audiences of up to 10 million in the UK and has been shown in 25 other countries.

Blake’s 7 ran for 52 episodes over 4 series.

Summary

Each of the four series had a different arc.

In Series One

We are introduced to a  political dissident Roj Blake, who leads a small group of rebels against the forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation, which rules the Earth and many colonised planets. The Federation administration uses mass surveillance, brainwashing and drug pacification to control its citizens. Blake discovers he was once the leader of a revolutionary group and is arrested, tried on false charges and deported to a penal colony on a remote planet. En route, he and fellow prisoners Jenna Stannis and Kerr Avon gain control of a technologically advanced alien spacecraft, which they name Liberator.

Liberator is a ship of superior speed and weaponry to Federation craft, and has a teleportation system that allows crew members to be transported to the surface of a planet. Liberator is controlled by Zen, the ship’s central computer. Blake and his crew begin a campaign to disrupt and damage the Federation and are pursued by Space Commander Travis – a Federation soldier – and Servalan, the Supreme Commander and later President of the Terran Federation.

In the final episode of series one they become embroiled in a race to gain possession of a superior computer with the ability to communicate with other computers – Orac.  Having gained possession of Orac he shows the crew a prediction from the near future of the craft’s destruction.

In Series Two

The adventure continues and we loose our first regular character – Gan.

The crew embark upon a mission to locate and destroy the main Federation computer – Star One.  When it begins to malfunction it causes massive problems across the Federation, especially when it causes a large defensive barrier to fail allowing aliens from the Andromada Galaxy to invade.

We leave series two with Liberator trying to hold off Andromada forces on it’s own, whilst waiting for help from a disarrayed Federation.  Commander Travis has been convicted of war crimes and in the battle for Star One Blake believes him to be dead.

As the series closes Blake agrees with Avon that when the battle with the Andromadans is over they will go their seperate ways.  This paved the way for Gareth Thomas (Blake) to leave the series.

In Series Three

We join the crew of Liberator at battle stations.  The ship is under attack the crew are abandoning ship, Blake and Jenna (neither of which appear) decide to stay with the ship.

The Federation defeats the Andromadans but sustains heavy casualties, considerably reducing it’s influence on the galaxy.  Avon returns to the ship with new crew member Dayna to be confronted by a rogue Federation officer – Del Tarrant.

Tarrant and Dayna become crew members as Liberator tracks down the rest of the crew.  Blake and Jenna are not found leaving Avon to take control of Liberator.

In the final episode of season three, Servalan lures Avon into a trap using a faked message from Blake.

Liberator and Zen are irreparably damaged by a cloud of fluid particles. Servalan captures Liberator and abandons the crew on an artificial planet called Terminal, where an illusion of a base with the necessary life support for a badly injured Blake is created.

It emerges that Blake died of his injuries and that Terminal is nothing more than an elaborate hoax.  This was meant to draw a line under Gareth Thomas’ time with the series, showing that Blake had died, but it did not convince fans.

As Servalan leaves Terminal, Liberator explodes and Servalan is apparently killed as she attempts to escape by teleporting away.  Stranded on Terminal, the crew of Liberator begin to search for a means of escape.

With Liberator destroyed it came as a surprise that a fourth series would be commissioned, but it was.

In Series Four

Trapped on Terminal, Avon and his crew discover that the ship left by Servalan is useless and they have no means of escape.  Furthermore the underground base is booby trapped and explodes killing Cally.

The crew are rescued by Dorian, a salvage operator. Dorian takes the crew in his spacecraft, Scorpio, to his base on the planet Xenon, where they meet his partner, Soolin.

Dorian plans to drain the crew’s life-force and take Orac but he is foiled by Vila.  Avon constructs a new teleport system for Scorpio using the technology left behind by Dorian. Soolin joins the crew and they takeover Scorpio and occupy the Xenon base.  Avon gains control of Slave, Scorpio’s main computer.

The series finale sees an alliance with a powerful warlord fail and the location of Xenon base revealed to the Federation.  Avon believes that the anti Federation alliance still has a future, it just needs a figurehead and he has just the person in mind – Blake.

The crew head for the lawless planet of Gauda Prime, where Blake is masquerading as a Bounty Hunter.  Scorpio comes under attack and the crew teleport to safety, leaving Tarrant to try to land the ship safely.  The ship is too badly damaged and Tarrant is injured.  Things come to a head when the crew confront Blake at his base.  Tarrant accuses Blake of betraying them, when Avon fails to get a satisfactory answer he shoots and kills Blake.

Blake’s latest convert, Arlen reveals that she is a Federation officer and Federation guards arrive. Tarrant, Soolin, Vila and Dayna are apparently killed by Federation troops, who slowly surround Avon. Avon steps over Blake’s body, raises his gun and smiles. Shots ring out.

Clips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast

Glynis Barber – Soolin
Jan Chappell – Cally
Brian Croucher – Commander Travis (series 2 and 3)
Paul Darrow – Avon
Stephen Greif – Commander Travis (series 1)
David Jackson –  Gan
Michael Keating – Vila
Sally Knyvette – Jenna
Steven Pacey – Tarrent
Jacqueline Pearce – Servalan
Josette Simon – Dayna
Gareth Thomas – Blake
Peter Tuddenham – Zen/Orac/Slave

Details

Channel: BBC1
Created By: Terry Nation
Produced By:
David Maloney (series 1-3)
Vere Lorrimer (series 4)
Original Transmission Dates: 2 January 1978 – 21 December 1981

Merchandising

There were the traditional annuals, models of Liberator and a series of VHS videos.  All 4 series are now available on DVD.

 

 

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