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Blake's 7

Table of contents
1 The Series
2 Summary with Spoilers
3 Cast:
4 Episode List:

The Series

The BBC science fiction television series Blake's 7 was created by Terry Nation and ran four seasons from January 2, 1978 to December 21, 1981.

It was produced in the United Kingdom and aired on the BBC and was similar to other BBC science fiction shows such as Doctor Who, but it was characterized by a darker tone and often defied the traditional sharply defined ethical stances associated with this type of drama, with considerable blurring of the distinction between the "good" and the "bad" guys and gals.

It stars a group of outlaw revolutionaries, led by a patriot-hero named Roj Blake, who fight the fascistic interstellar Federation in the second century of the third calendar. The show was watched by 10 million viewers at its peak, an enormous number for a space opera.

The show is noted for its strong focus on character; Blake and his band of outlaws were all highly individual, distinctive, and flawed, as often at each others' throats and in pursuit of their own private agendas as they were facing down their common enemies in the Federation. It also featured a remarkable attrition rate among its main characters, in violation of accepted practice for a drama of its nature.

One notorious characteristic of the show was its highly effective use of cliffhangers at the end of each season, a feature that would eventually give rise to the rumor that the final episode of the fourth season, "Blake," was likewise intended as a cliffhanger, to be somehow resolved in the never-produced fifth season.

Another notable and often satirised aspect of the show was the light construction of its sets (something it shared in common with Doctor Who). The "wobbly set syndrome" was particularly noticeable during the numerous fight scenes - one presumes the actors had to be very careful about avoiding colliding with the walls. Many exterior shots portraying the surface of other worlds took place in quarries; fans of the show are now able to go on a Blake's 7 quarry location tour of the UK.

Summary with Spoilers

(Wikipedia contains spoilers)

Blake begins the series being captured by the Federation, convicted on trumped-up charges, and sent to a remote prison planet called Cygnus Alpha. It is on the prisoner transport ship London that he meets his future crew, whom he convinces to join him in a mutiny to take over the London. The mutiny fails, but before Blake and his cohorts can be executed the London comes upon a mysterious unidentified starship apparently derelict from a space battle. After several crewmembers are killed by the ship's automated defences, the London’s captain decides to send Blake's group over to see if they can defuse them or die in the attempt. They take over the mysterious and highly advanced ship, name it the Liberator, and set out to topple the Federation. At least, that is Blake's goal. His other crew members, particularly Kerr Avon, followed him with various degrees of reluctance.

By the end of the second season, Gareth Thomas (Blake) sought an exit from the series. His character was written out, with Blake being lost in an escape pod along with Jenna after the Liberator was damaged in a ferocious battle over the Federation's central computer complex, known as Star One. Del Tarrant, a revolutionary who had been posing as a Federation trooper, was introduced to replace him, although Avon clashed even more frequently with Tarrant than he had with Blake. Avon eventually rose in dominance until he became the de facto leader of the group. The shadow of Blake remained strong over them, however, and they continued to search for him throughout the remainder of the series.

Liberator was lost at the end of the third season, and the group soon acquired a new ship named Scorpio together with a home base on a planet called Xenon. The fight against the Federation continued, growing more desperate, for both sides; the Federation had been significantly weakened after the loss of Star One and the galactic war that followed, allowing Servalan, the Supreme Commander of its military forces, to seize power and sweep aside any remaining positive qualities the Federation may have had.

Finally, in a climax that ensured the show a lasting place in the history of television, the crew at last finds Blake working as a bounty hunter on a backwater planet named Gauda Prime. Thinking Blake has betrayed them due to a misunderstanding, Avon kills Blake. Then Federation troops overrun the remainder, killing all except Avon, whom they surround and hold at gunpoint. Avon raises his own weapon, then as the scene cuts to black a flurry of gunfire is heard and the end credits rolled.

Blake's death is shown in surprisingly graphic detail considering that the episode ended at about 8:10 PM, well before the watershed for violence. The blood and gore was added at Gareth Thomas's insistence (it was in his contract), in order to make sure that both the audience and potential casting directors would not assume that Blake was only wounded and demand his return.

In spite of (or perhaps because of) the cliffhanger ending, so-called "post Gauda Prime" stories about possible resolutions are a particularly popular topic in Blake's 7 fan fiction.

A note on the show's name: When Terry Nation originally scripted the show, he intended Blake to have six companions, hence the name Blake's Seven. Due to budget constraints, however, Blake's crew never included more than six human actors (including Blake) at one time. The show subtly addressed this discrepancy by counting one or more computers as "members" of the crew. Thus, the original seven were

Humans: Roj Blake, Kerr Avon, Jenna Stannis, Vila Restal, Olag Gan, Cally (6)
Computers: Zen (1)

By the end of the series, the lineup had become

Humans: Kerr Avon, Vila Restal, Del Tarrant, Dayna Mellanby, Soolin (5)
Computers: Orac, Slave (2)

Using this system, the total does actually add up to seven with fair consistency throughout the series. Note how this list also demonstrates the characteristic attrition of main characters (including Blake himself!) throughout the series:

Also, Travis, one of the main villains of the first two seasons, is killed at the end of Season B. He is never replaced by a recurrent character, as Servalan, the other main villain, henceforth has a tendency to quickly lose her sidekicks either by accident or by design.

Cliffhanger Season Endings (spoilers)


Episode List:

1978 (Season A)

  1. The Way Back
  2. Space Fall
  3. Cygnus Alpha
  4. Time Squad
  5. The Web
  6. Seek Locate Destroy
  7. Mission to Destiny
  8. Duel
  9. Project Avalon
  10. Breakdown
  11. Bounty
  12. Deliverance
  13. Orac

1979 (Season B)

  1. Redemption
  2. Shadow
  3. Weapon
  4. Horizon
  5. Pressure Point
  6. Trial
  7. Killer
  8. Hostage
  9. Countdown
  10. Voice from the Past
  11. Gambit
  12. The Keeper
  13. Star One

1980 (Season C)

  1. Aftermath
  2. Powerplay
  3. Volcano
  4. Dawn of the Gods
  5. The Harvest of Kairos
  6. City at the Edge of the World
  7. Children of Auron
  8. Rumours of Death
  9. Sarcophagus
  10. Ultraworld
  11. Moloch
  12. Death Watch
  13. Terminal

1981 (Season D)

  1. Rescue
  2. Power
  3. Traitor
  4. Stardrive
  5. Animals
  6. Headhunter
  7. Assassin
  8. Games
  9. Sand
  10. Gold
  11. Orbit
  12. Warlord
  13. Blake

At the moment, there is a revival moment (lead by Paul Darrow) to create a new miniseries of the show, entitled "Blake's 7: Legacy".