B7 was made by people who really cared about what they were making and it shows on screen. It embraced serious adult themes and yet, was accessible to children. It never let special effects get in the way of a cracking story or well fleshed out, believable characters. The acting, particularly in the first two series was remarkable. You always feel that the actors were part of a team, fighting against the odds. Knowing what we do now about the budget and the filming schedule, that wasn't very far from the truth.
B7 was recommended in the 1977 Christmas edition of Radio Time. I was 10, enjoyed Dr Who, so it looked like a safe bet to me.
My first sci-fi buddy was my second best friend. Michele Gordon, my first, was into the Osmonds and her mum made a cracking tomato scone. We drifted apart due to insurmountable age differences. She was six weeks younger and somehow moved back an academic year. So I started the next-to-last-year of primary school friendless and adrift. One day a red-haired, freckled tom-boy of a girl asked me by the third oak tree from the left of the playground whether I'd like to play marbles with her. Just as she was whooping my arse with her queenie we got talking about TV, one of us must have mentioned Dr Who and for the next three years, apart from the odd moment when school rudely interrupted, we didn't really stop. And, of course in those days there was quite a lot to talk about - Blakes 7, Dr Who, even then, the grand-dame of British Sci-Fi, Star Trek, Children of the Stones, Tommorrows People, Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Day of the Triffid, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica. Our enthusiasm was contagious. Before we knew it, I was making Jenna costumes out of net curtains, she was writing amdram adventures for our various groupies and Corgi Liberators replaced conkers as the toy du jour in the playground. During that last glorious summer that marked the transition betwen baby and big school we laughed so much at her new glasses that I fell off her bunk bed and snot ran down her nose. She hoped that the glasses might make her dizzy spells and bad headaches go away.
With autumn came a new, Blake-less series of B7 and a relentless feeling of tiredness and ill health for both of us. We held up the Across Bus for half an hour, insisting that we watch the B7 actors on Swap Shop and tried to make teleport bracelets out of squash bottles and rubbers on the way to a rather memorable week in Lourdes. The last time we saw each other, my dull mousy and her flame red hair were long in the bin, battle scars from our therapies (hers radio, mine chemo). We were so riddled with nausea, we daren't open our mouths to speak. She died the following Spring and I watched Avon blast Blake on my own that Christmas.
I lost a leg, but not my life. I went on and lived it to the full and in my 30's returned to the B7 fold through fandom, made another best friend and had three beautiful children with him.
We recently drifted apart due to insurmountable differences, none of them aged related. Although there is a lot of his behaviour that I will never forget, let alone forgive, I do thank him and B7 for three of the most wonderful children in the world. Those children have gone on to play Star Wars and Doctor Who with light sabres and tardiss' just as I did 33 years ago and I hope they make as many good friends as I have through their love of Sci-fi.
The bulging eyed Tom Baker years
Buck Rodgers in the 21st Century
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