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Series 1 Overview

The Scores

The Way Back: This is cheerful.7/10

Space Fall: This is much better than Doctor Who. – 8/10

Cygnus Alpha: Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Brian Blessed turns up.7/10

Time Squad: What a load of shit.3/10

The Web: It’s just a man sticking his head through a hole in a wall.1/10

Seek-Locate-Destroy: That was better than the last one. Still not very good, though.5/10

Mission to Destiny: Please tell me that didn’t happen.3/10

Duel: Why can’t they all be like that? Let Douglas Camfield direct every episode.9/10

Project Avalon: They have to stop ending episodes like this.7/10

Breakdown: Yet more faffing about when they should be blowing up the Federation.4/10

Bounty: An old man DJ-ing for half an hour.3/10

Deliverance: Captain Kirk would have shagged her by now.5/10

Orac: It was worth it to see Avon smile.5/10

Nicol has done the maths and Series 1 of Blake’s 7 has a mean average score of 5/10. Which is distinctly average. And pretty mean.

Sue: That sounds about right. It could be better and it could be worse.

Me: Very early on, you said Blake’s 7 was a much better show than Doctor Who. Do you still believe that?

Sue: Yes, I do. Definitely.

Me: Really? I’m surprised.

Sue: It’s the characters and the premise that I like. The execution could be a lot better, but the idea itself is solid. It’s more like Babylon 5 than Doctor Who, and I like that aspect to it. I like story arcs and anti-heroes and stuff like that. As long as Avon doesn’t leave, Blake’s 7 is miles ahead of 1970s Doctor Who.

7 Questions

Here are the best seven questions asked by you, our readers:

Hugh Dunne: If you could swap one Doctor Who companion with one Liberator crew member, who would it be and why?

Sue: That’s a very good question. The crew could do with a decent scientist, so I’d probably pick Romana. The first Romana because she’d look good in Robin Hood clothes. I’d swap her for Cally because Cally is ****ing hopeless.

The next question was also asked by Dean Jacobs, Brian Ferguson, and Ellie.

Matt Dolphin: If you had to kill off one of the crew, who would you choose?

Sue: Are all of these questions going to be about getting rid of members of the crew? OK, it’s a toss-up between Cally and Gan. Gan because I trust him about as far as I can throw him – and his sex face disturbs me – and Cally because she’s ****ing hopeless!

Steve Trimingham: What do you think the series says about the politics (social and sexual) of the 1970s?

Sue: I didn’t think I’d have to write an essay tonight; I’m not at work now, love. OK, let’s see: the IRA were big in the 1970s, so terrorism was very topical. As was paedophilia, or so it seems. So yes, Blake’s 7 basically reflected how grim things were back in the 1970s, while the costumes reflected how silly things were back in the 1970s. As for its sexual politics, it’s complicated. On the one hand, you’ve got strong women in powerful roles, but at the same time you’ve got women being punched in the face, acting as damsels in distress, or falling at men’s feet. But it’s Terry Nation so what can you do?

Many of you asked the next question, including Jess Patton, Paula, Travis’s Eyepatch, Steve Desmond and Jason U:

Steven Sharp: If you were making a re-booted version of Blake’s 7, who would you cast?

Sue gave this question a great deal of thought before she finally settled on:

Sue's 7

So that’s Stephen Mangan, John Simm, Michelle Collins, David Mitchell, Nick Frost, Patsy Palmer, Graham Norton, Paul Darrow, Joanna Lumley and Mark Gatiss. Actors who didn’t make the final cut included: Benedict Cumberbunch (sic) as Blake, Jane Horrocks as Jenna, Russell Tovey as Vila, Jamie Lee Curtis as Cally, Peter Capaldi as Travis, Joan Collins as Servalan and Miranda Hart as Gan.

Me: You do realise that you’ve cast Blake’s 7 as a sitcom, don’t you.

Sue: It needs a lighter touch. It’s too bleak.

Dave Sanders: If you were put in charge of Federation security, what would be your strategy to capture Blake?

Sue: That’s easy. I’d tell Blake that I wanted to negotiate with him on a deserted planet somewhere, and I’d offer to wipe those poor kid’s memories so they don’t think they’ve been molested any more, and because Blake is naive, he’d turn up, and that’s when I’d shoot him in the head. No messing about. Just shoot him in the head.

Me: But then you’d turn Blake into a martyr.

Sue: So don’t tell anyone that you’ve shot him in the head. Put out a story that he died raping a child. There you go. Easy. And the same advice goes to Blake. The next time you find yourself in the same room as Servalan or Travis, just shoot them in the head. Job done.

Robert Dick: Which cast member do you think would cope best with having a pint spilled on their good suit? And which one would react the worst?

Sue: Well, I’d like to think that Paul Darrow would handle it well, just in case I meet him, but I suspect that he’d punch me in the face. So I guess the actor who plays Vila would probably handle it best; he’d make a joke out of it. Orac would react the worst because he’d short-circuit.

And finally, dozens of you asked subtle variations on this:

Rebecca Harris: What would you do differently if you were the producer of Blake’s 7?

Sue: I’d put an apostrophe in the logo for a start, and then I’d hire Robert Holmes to write all the scripts, and I’d get Douglas Camfield to direct all the episodes. How hard can it be?

And there you have it. Sue has decided that the best question was posed by Hugh. Congratulations, Hugh, you’ve won a signed copy of our book and we’ll be in touch with you later this week. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question. We’ll be doing this again at the end of Series 2, probably as a podcast.

Me: Before I loosen the restraints, can you sum up Blake’s 7 so far in seven words.

Sue: Bleak; well-acted; engaging; political; convoluted; enjoyable; cheap.

Me: And finally, what would you like to see happen in Series 2?

Sue: I want Blake to clear his name because that’s been bugging me; I want to see more tension between Avon and Blake until they end up wrestling on the floor; I want to see Servalan booted out of the Federation for exceeding her reach, and I want her to join Blake’s crew; I don’t want to see Travis any more – he’s blown it too many times for me to take him seriously; I want Blake to concentrate on bringing down the Federation – none of this “let’s explore a planet like we’re in Star Trek” nonsense; and I don’t want Terry Nation to write any more scripts, but that’s cheating because you’ve already told me that’s happening. Thank God.

Next Time:

I had hoped to get Series 2 up and running this Friday, but I’m going away for a few days this week which means I can’t update the blog until Tuesday March 4th. Sorry about that. I’m a very bad man.

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37 comments

  • Visit site
    February 25, 2014 4:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    matt bartley

    “So don’t tell anyone that you’ve shot him in the head. Put out a story that he died raping a child. There you go. Easy.”

    I laughed far, far too much at that.

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      February 27, 2014 11:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Geoff

      So did I!

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    February 25, 2014 4:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Nick Mays

    Sounds a fair assessment of Series 1.

    But Blake was framed remember – he’s not Jimmy Savile!

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    February 25, 2014 4:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Chris Allen

    “I’d tell Blake that I wanted to negotiate with him on a deserted planet somewhere”

    That sounds spookily like the plot of a season 2 episode that I was watching just the other day. And I don’t think I’ll be spoiling the ending too much if I say that Sue’s advice was NOT taken by the villain.

    Much as I love Robert Holmes, Blake’s 7 would have been a very different show had he written it all. (I can’t wait for Sue’s reaction to “Gambit”.)

  • Visit site
    February 25, 2014 4:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Nick Mays

    Love the idea of Paul Darrow as Zen! 🙂

    Pointedly, the only one of the original cast to make it to the re-make!

    • February 26, 2014 12:28 amPosted 3 years ago
      encyclops

      I think it would almost be more fun to have him as Orac. I’ll bet once Sue sees their relationship develop, she’ll agree, if only for the irony*. 🙂

      * May not actually be ironic.

      • Visit site
        February 26, 2014 8:39 amPosted 3 years ago
        Nick Mays

        Agreed, but how about Paul Darrow as Avon? An older, more ironic, irritable Avon who finds himself caught up with a load of young would-be revolutionaries and has to stick with them becuase despite what he says, he’s got nowhere better to go… for now…. 😉

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    February 25, 2014 4:58 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    OK, Sue totally needs to watch Blake’s Junction 7 now where they do at least one of her jokes. 🙂

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      February 25, 2014 5:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      And don’t worry Sue, you won’t be seeing Travis anymore. Sorta.

      • February 25, 2014 9:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
        John Callaghan

        The cast for BJ7 is absolutely perfect – especially Vila and Servalan! I think Sue would
        absolutely love it, especially as an extra after series 4.

        • Visit site
          February 26, 2014 5:27 amPosted 3 years ago
          Jane

          Servalan needs to be played by Morena Baccarin.

          • Visit site
            February 26, 2014 8:42 amPosted 3 years ago
            Nick Mays

            How about Lily Allen as Servalan? After all, her Dad (or possibly ancestor) was the Sheriff of Nottingham AND she never wears a bra!

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            February 26, 2014 11:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Darren

            THANK YOU! I knew I couldn’t be the only one who thought of this.

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            February 28, 2014 12:21 amPosted 3 years ago
            Nick Mays

            Or how about Katie Hopkins as Servalan – she could just play herself.

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            March 2, 2014 8:44 amPosted 3 years ago
            Dave Sanders

            Daily Mail on legs? That won’t work, Avon has to secretly fancy her.

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    February 25, 2014 6:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Katy

    OK, series 2 (and 3-4), you basically fill all of Sue’s wants (except Blake clearing his name) so you better make her like you. Because there’s really no excuse.

    Really good re-cast choices. Like – almost the best that I’ve seen. Joanna Lumley would be A+ fabulous. Most people recasting it would have gone for someone younger, who would not be as amazing. Mangan is a great choice for Blake, too – and would help remind people that Blake is funny!

  • Visit site
    February 25, 2014 6:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Sooty

    Love the idea of Mitchell as Vila, but he’s already done an Avon on peep show, losing it over his new heating system. “Obey my commands, Orac”!

  • Visit site
    February 25, 2014 7:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Robert Dick

    David Mitchell should play Orac, surely.

    • Visit site
      February 26, 2014 1:38 amPosted 3 years ago
      wyngatecarpenter

      No, keep David Mitchell as Vila and have Stephen Fry as Orac, like some kind of QI in space. Or even have Fry as Orac and Alan Davies as Vila, and a big alarm could go off whenever Vila says something stupid.

      • Visit site
        February 26, 2014 9:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
        wyngatecarpenter

        Or keep Mitchell as Vila and have Paterson Joseph as Avon.

  • February 25, 2014 9:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Paula Acton

    I know have visions of Servalan having a split personality alternating between Purdy and Patsy, so basically kicking ass before passing out drunk lol

  • Visit site
    February 25, 2014 10:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    That’s not David Mitchell, it’s a Sea Devil doing a Harry Worth impression with the shop window. IT IS EATING INTO MY SOUL.

  • Visit site
    February 25, 2014 10:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mat Dolphin

    Re: “Orac would react the worst because he’d short-circuit.”

    You haven’t shown her Blake’s Junction 7 already have you?

  • Visit site
    February 26, 2014 1:49 amPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    So you nicked my question for yourself then Neil? Unfortunately Sue gives an objectively, factually incorrect response

    ” Blake’s 7 is miles ahead of 1970s Doctor Who.”

    So wrong, much as I like Blake’s 7.

    Looking at what Sue wants for Season 2, looks like she’ll get just about enough of it for her not to abandon the experiment completely

    • Visit site
      February 26, 2014 11:18 amPosted 3 years ago
      rob

      ” Blake’s 7 is miles ahead of 1970s Doctor Who.”

      Sue is right on that one particularly if you compare B7 S1 to the likes of ‘The Key To Time’ season. Bar the odd blip (Hostage, Voice From The Past, The Keeper), I do think that Sue is going to love Season 2.

      • Visit site
        February 26, 2014 9:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
        wyngatecarpenter

        Nothing in Season 1 of B7 is as good as Ribos Operation though.

        If she’d said it was better than 80s Dr Who she’d probably be right

  • Visit site
    February 26, 2014 3:22 amPosted 3 years ago
    Sally M

    Oh yes, I’d watch Sue’s reboot (and I might add, it’s the very first suggested or attempted one I would)…. Avon, Jenna and Servalan are perfect.

  • Visit site
    February 26, 2014 5:50 amPosted 3 years ago
    Katie C

    March 4th!? Yes you’re a very bad man, I’m in Australia and already waiting around an extra day every episode waiting for you lot to catch up!:)

  • February 26, 2014 1:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Doc Whom

    ***On the one hand, you’ve got strong women in powerful roles, but at the same time you’ve got women being punched in the face…***

    Surley we can get some measure of agreement that, once a murderess starts down the path of destroying the lives of a whole planet for a profit, the “never hit a woman” rule no longer holds in her case.

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      February 26, 2014 3:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Frankymole

      Nice to see that chivalry hasn’t been killed stone dead by equality, though!

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      February 27, 2014 11:14 amPosted 3 years ago
      Shan

      I hope Sue never sees the Comedian in action in Watchmen then. He was an equal opportunity head kicker if I ever saw one.

  • March 2, 2014 10:55 amPosted 3 years ago
    Tom May

    This blog has been a great read so far, thanks! It’s given me the impetus to watch B7 properly. I caught the odd bit on UK Gold in the ‘old days’ of the mid-late 1990s before Doctor Who was on, and in its 2000 repeat run on BBC-2 on Saturday afternoons… Yet hadn’t watched all episodes in the first series by any means, so has been good to take it all in now. I was always a big DW fan and have been more broadly into ‘archive television’ in the last decade, so it seemed an oversight that I hadn’t truly ‘experienced’ B7 – in terms of post-series 1 episodes, I’d only seen in full that episode with Colin Baker…

    I watched series one with a friend who hadn’t seen any B7 (but quite a bit of DW), and we wrote about series one at preposterous length here:
    http://quarmby.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/becoming-legend-blakes-7-series-one.html

    Series 1 is a mixed bag. I found a lot to really like in it, but too many episodes that just don’t take the narrative anywhere interesting… We’ve now watched the first four episodes from s.2 and things do change!

    • Visit site
      March 3, 2014 11:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Mat Dolphin

      Tom, enjoyed your full analysis of series one and look forward to three more…

      • March 3, 2014 11:38 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Tom May

        Thanks a lot! We hope to do a post about each series – and have made a head start with series 2 already; four episodes watched on Saturday.

        Sadly, I am finding it far harder to find any contemporary reviews of series 2. Maybe with such ongoing series, they tended to focus a lot on the opening, but they rather got taken for granted when they were established… You don’t see many Doctor Who reviews either in the Times, FT, Guardian etc. The focus was more on assessing serial drama – literary adaptations – and single-plays. The late-70s was, of course, an era with an abundance of riches in all of these areas.

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    March 5, 2014 2:31 amPosted 3 years ago
    Graeme

    Series 1.

    10/10.

  • Visit site
    March 5, 2014 4:04 amPosted 3 years ago
    Graeme

    ‘Me: You do realise that you’ve cast Blake’s 7 as a sitcom, don’t you.

    Sue: It needs a lighter touch. It’s too bleak.’

    You have a military dictatorship (Earth-based of course) called the Federation stretching it’s tentacles throughout the galaxy, pursuing a band of (mostly) escape criminals thrown together by circumstances not their own, who, whilst making suicidal death-throes against the Fed, are getting sidetracked in other people’s business. Even if they did bring the Fed down, it will end with a mess for survivors to wallow in, and not with promotions or service pensions or with a Star Wars-style medallion ceremony! All quite plausible. How could it be anything but bleak?

    • March 5, 2014 2:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
      encyclops

      Maybe she means it could be Firefly. I like this show better, but I can see where she’s coming from.

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