Fondly remembered and ambitious low-budget British television space epic.
Blake’s 7 is in many ways the British Star Trek: an epic intergalactic televisual adventure focused on a space captain and his crew. But unlike its American forebear, this is a dark tale following a desperate band of survivors fleeing the clutches of an evil totalitarian empire (embodied memorably in Jacqueline Pearce’s close-cropped dominatrix, Servelan). Although bedevilled by feeble special effects, the show’s credibility was maintained by intense - some would say dour - performances from leads Gareth Thomas as resolute commander Blake, and Paul Darrow as his enigmatic lieutenant, Avon.
The show is notable for its attempt to take on American-style space opera with a low budget, while bringing a distinctive British pessimism to the proceedings. Despite meagre resources, the production-design team nonetheless managed to conjure up a memorable space craft (the Liberator) and an iconic computer (Orac - the most powerful processor in the universe). The dark feel of Blake’s 7 is often credited with sparking the resurgence of the space opera subgenre in the UK in the 1980s and 90s. And the show’s band-on-the-run premise resurfaced recently in the US TV show Firefly, which in turn begat the 2005 movie Serenity.