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Blake's 7
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"Servalan would regularly appear to threaten the freedom fighters with a combination of chilling brutality and high-camp frocks"
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Michael Keating (Vila) and Paul Darrow (Avon)
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BBC's Cult TV Blakes 7 page
The official Blakes 7 fan club site
Louise and Simon's Blakes 7 fan site

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In January 1978, the BBC launched a new TV science fiction series, capitalising on Star Wars fever that was gripping the nation. Created by writer Terry Nation – the chap who invented the Daleks for Doctor Who – this TV show was aimed at a more grown-up audience, dealing with the potentially controversial subjects of brainwashing, terrorism and rebellion against a corrupt government. The programme was called ‘Blakes 7’ and it became an instant hit.

The series begins with a man called Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas), who slowly begins to realise that he has been brainwashed by Government authorities into forgetting that he was a political rebel against the oppressive regime of the “Federation”. When the Federation realises that Blake’s memory is returning, they frame him on child abuse charges and send him by prison ship to a penal colony. En route, Blake meets up with a motley bunch of criminals: the glamorous smuggler Jenna, cowardly safecracker Vila, gentle giant Gan and the cynical but charming computer fraudster Avon (Paul Darrow). Soon Blake and his comrades manage to escape from their prison ship onto a huge deserted battleship, which they rename the Liberator. With the help of ship’s computer Zen and alien telepath Cally, Blake’s 7 began to fight back against the cruel forces of the Federation.

During the course of the four years and 52 episodes, Blake’s colleagues would be joined by new members and suffer several tragic losses. Hyper-intelligent computer (and goldfish tank lookalike) Orac, weapons expert Dayna, ex-Federation officer Tarrant and gunslinger Soolin would all join the crew. However Gan and Cally were both killed in action, and at the end of the second series both Jenna and Blake went missing. Avon then took over command of the Liberator and pitted his wits against the Federation – most notably against the President, Supreme Commander Servalan. Played to perfection by Jacqueline Pearce, Servalan would regularly appear to threaten the freedom fighters with a combination of chilling brutality and high-camp frocks.

As the series drew to an end in 1981, audiences were left stunned by a shocking final episode that seemed to show our heroes being brutally gunned by Federation guards. Viewers demanded the return of the series to our screens and regularly plagued ‘Points of View’ with requests for repeats of their favourite show. In hindsight, Blakes 7 is still a remarkable series, combining sci-fi action with well-rounded characters and some memorable TV moments. Like most British sci-fi programmes, it does tend to get hampered a bit by an over-reliance on quarries doubling for alien planets. However, the much-maligned special effects are (generally speaking) fairly okay for their time. Thankfully, Blakes 7 on the radio has much better sets and special effects!

by Paul Condon
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