Blake’s 7 (1978-1981)

UK, 2 January 1978-21 December 1981
4 series, 52 episodes, average 50m
colour, 4:3
mono, English

A British science fiction television series created by Terry Nation. 52 episodes were broadcast across four series on BBC1 between

Premise

In a future ruled over by the cruel and totalitarian Federation, a resistance movement is growing. One of its chief architects, Roj Blake, escapes from prison and goes on the run, picking up an alien spaceship he renames the Liberator, a human crew of four and two powerful computers, Zen and Orac. As the crew of the Liberator continues its guerrilla struggle against the Federation, they make enemies of Supreme Commander Servalan and her henchman Travis. But their struggle comes at a terrible price and several of their number – Blake included – are lost along the way…

Episodes

Series One
The Way Back (2 January 1978)
Space Fall (9 January 1978)
Cygnus Alpha (16 January 1978)
Time Squad (23 January 1978)
The Web (30 January 1978)
Seek-Locate-Destroy (6 February 1978)
Mission to Destiny (13 February 1978)
Duel (20 February 1978)
Project Avalon (27 February 1978)
Breakdown (6 March 1978)
Bounty (13 March 1978)
Deliverance (20 March 1978)
Orac (27 March 1978)

Series Two
Redemption (9 January 1979)
Shadow (16 January 1979)
Weapon (23 January 1979)
Horizon (30 January 1979)
Pressure Point (6 February 1979)
Trial (13 February 1979)
Killer (20 February 1979)
Hostage (27 February 1979)
Countdown (6 March 1979)
Voice from the Past (13 March 1979)
Gambit (20 March 1979)
The Keeper (27 March 1979)
Star One (3 April 1979)

Series Three
Aftermath (7 January 1980)
Powerplay (14 January 1980)
Volcano (21 January 1980)
Dawn of the Gods (28 January 1980)
The Harvest of Kairos (4 February 1980)
City at the Edge of the World (11 February 1980)
Children of Auron (18 February 1980)
Rumours of Death (25 February 1980)
Sarcophagus (3 March 1980)
Ultraworld (10 March 1980)
Moloch (17 March 1980)
Death-Watch (24 March 1980)
Terminal (31 March 1980)

Series Four
Rescue (28 September 1981)
Power (5 October 1981)
Traitor (12 October 1981)
Stardrive (19 October 1981)
Animals (26 October 1981)
Headhunter (2 November 1981)
Assassin (9 November 1981)
Games (16 November 1981)
Sand (23 November 1981)
Gold (30 November 1981)
Orbit (7 December 1981)
Warlord (14 December 1981)
Blake (21 December 1981)

Extracts included in
2 Out-Takes, a Missing Scene, 1 Robot, 2 Flat Feet and a Blooper (2004)

Press

When the series began, Bernard Davies of Broadcast magazine said that he was “quite happy to put my fate in the hands of Blake” but complained that “Terry Nation’s work usually stands quite firmly on its own feet; I wish he didn’t feel compelled to inflate its significance as in his recent Radio Times interview.” 1Broadcast no.945 (16 January 1978) p.19 By 1980, he felt that it was “an adequate treatment of science fiction at its lower level, the adventure human-conflict level, and does not aspire to the higher levels at which the writer seeks seriously to examine the future in terms not only of technology but also of human response.” 2Broadcast no.1041 (21 January 1980) p.16

Later opinions of the show were mixed. In 2006, David Richardson of Starburst felt that series four was “the year that should never have been made, a half-hearted attempt to continue after the destruction of the wonderful Liberator at the end of the previous year. It feels thrown together” and that “by the time of the controversial final episode, it just seems like a mercy killing.” 3Starburst no.336 (May 2006) p.85 and Nick Briggs, also in Starburst, opined that “when it launched into Star Trek territory, it just looked daft, despite the valiant efforts of a largely lovely regular cast. Occasionally entertaining, often boring.” 4Starburst no.352 (Summer 2007) p.65. Again in Starburst, David Richardson complained that “one word describes Blake’s 7: inconsistency” and that it was “a show you can admire parts of. […] It’s about 25 per cent excellent, 50 per cent watchable and 25 per cent bilge.” 5Starburst no.352 (Summer 2007) p.65. Paul Darrow’s “unnecessary over-the-top performance as the supposedly enigmatic Avon” earned the ire of Jan Vincent-Rudski, though her conceded that there were “some moments of brilliant story telling, but mainly an opportunity missed.” 6Starburst no.352 (Summer 2007) p.65.

But there are still admirers: “Blake’s 7 was everything a great British TV series should be,” wrote Alan Jones in 2007, “offering thought-provoking, quality, character-driven Science Fiction drama. Despite a limited budget and ultimate loss of narrative focus, Blake’s 7 was hugely entertaining escapist space fantasy. 7Starburst no.352 (Summer 2007) p.65

References

Periodicals

  • Broadcast no.945 (16 January 1978) p.19 – review (One man’s television by Bernard Davies)
  • Broadcast no.1041 (21 January 1980) p.16 – review (One man’s television by Bernard Davies)
  • Broadcast 25 April 2008 p.1 – note (Sky One to resurrect sci-fi classic Blake’s 7 by Rob Shepherd)
  • Cinema of the ’70s no.1 (2020) pp.69-75 – illustrated interview with Judy Matheson (Judy Matheson: An interview by Ian Taylor)
  • Cult TV vol.1 no.2 (September 1997) pp.62-65 – illustrated article (Seven Up by Keith Topping)
  • Cult TV vol.2 no.1 (January 1998) pp.46-49 – illustrated article (Starlust memories by Nick Setchfield)
  • DreamWatch vol.1 no.9 (May 1995) pp.30-31 – illustrated interview with Stephen Grieff and Brian Croucher (Travis times two by Gareth Roberts)
  • Dreamwatch no.13 p.24, 44 – illustrated article
  • Dreamwatch no.14 p.33 – illustrated article
  • Empire September 1995 p.116 – illustrated article
  • Empire no.96 (June 1997) p.142 – illustrated article (Television movies and more: unforgettable: Blake’s 7 by Christopher Hemblade)
  • Empire no.179 (May 2004) p.154 – illustrated review (Small screen: Blake’s 7: series 1 by Mark Elliott)
  • Fantasy Empire no.7 (1983) – credits, episode guide
  • Fantasy Empire no.8 (1983) – credits, episode guide
  • Fantasy Empire Collector’s Edition no.2 (1983) – credits, episode guide
  • Photoplay vol.29 no.3 (March 1978) p.46 – illustrated note (Space, travel and the future in Blake’s 7 by Terry Vincent)
  • Radio Times vol.222 no.2878 (6 January 1979) pp.10-11 – illustrated interview with Terry Nation (Seven up by Mick Brown)
  • Radio Times vol.217 no.2824/5 (24-31 December 1977) – illustrated article
  • Radio Times vol.223 no.2892 (14 April 1979) p.75 – letters
  • Radio Times vol.227 no.2945 (19 April 1980) p.75 – letters
  • Radio Times vol.232 no.3020 (26 September 1981) pp.11-12 – illustrated interview with the Blake’s Seven Fan Club in Chiswick (Watch this space by Mike Phillips)
  • Radio Times vol.233 no.3030 (5 December 1981) p.81 – letters
  • Radio Times vol.234 no.3036 (16 January 1982) p.71 – letter
  • Radio Times vol.286 no.3738 (9 September 1995) p.8 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7)
  • SFX no.4 p.5, 55 – illustrated article
  • Sight & Sound vol.15 n4 (April 2005) p.85 – illustrated review (Television releases: Blakes 7 Series 2 by Ben Walters)
  • Starburst vol.1 no.6 (January 1979) pp.4-11 – illustrated interview with Terry Nation (Terry Nation by John Fleming)
  • Starburst no.18 (1980) pp.16-19; 26-31 – illustrated interview with various actors from the third series; illustrated interview with David Maloney
  • Starburst no.20 (1980) pp.23-27 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7 Special Effects by John Fleming)
  • Starburst no.28 (1980) pp.31-35 – illustrated interview with Paul Darrow
  • Starburst no.38 (1981) pp.29-31 – illustrated interview with Glynis Barber
  • Starburst no.43 (1982) p.12 – letter
  • Starburst no.64 (December 1983) p.44 – illustrated article
  • Starburst no.89 (1985) pp.48-50 – illustrated interview with Vere Lorrimer
  • Starburst October 1994 pp.18-23 – illustrated interview with Terry Nation (Prologue to Blake by Jason Haigh-Ellery and Sue Cowley)
  • Starburst no.197 (January 1995) pp.48-51 – illustrated article (Memories of Blake by Joe Nazzaro)
  • Starburst no.205 (September 1995) pp.42-45 – illustrated review (Seventh heaven by Richard Houldsworth)
  • Starburst no.231 (November 1997) p.8 – illustrated note (TV News UK by Jane Killick)
  • Starburst no.306 (January 2004) p.86 – illustrated review (DVD Reviews by David Richardson)
  • Starburst no.307 (February 2004) pp.18-30 – illustrated article (Top 50 sci-fi movies, books and tv series ever!)
  • Starburst no.317 (December 2004) pp.34-37 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7: Up the junction by Anwar Brett)
  • Starburst no.321 (March 2005) p.116 – illustrated review (DVD Reviews by David Richardson)
  • Starburst no.326 (August 2005) p.84 – illustrated review (Reviews: DVD Reviews by David Richardson)
  • Starburst no.336 (May 2006) p.85 – illustrated review (Reviews: DVD Reviews by David Richardson)
  • Starburst no.350 (June 2007) pp.12; 38-39 – illustrated article (Hall of Shame: The Greatest Villains in the Universe); illustrated article (The Same… But Different)
  • Starburst no.352 (Summer 2007) pp.62-66 – illustrated article (The Starburst Vaults: Blake’s 7)
  • Starburst no.360 (March 2008) pp.38-39 – illustrated interview with Paul Darrow (Avon Calling by Charles Norton)
  • Starburst Special no.66 pp.16-17 – illustrated article (The death of a legend: Blake’s 7 by Joe Mazarro)
  • Starburst Special Yearbook no.61 (2003) pp.120-124 – illustrated review (DVD for 2004)
  • Television Today 5 January 1978 p.14 – illustrated article
  • Television Today no.5736 (21 March 1991) p.20 – illustrated article (Taped antics with Blake’s 7)
  • TV & Home Video vol.1 no.4 (May 1979) pp.33-35 – illustrated article
  • TV Zone no.33 p.28 – illustrated article
  • TV Zone no.44 (February 2002) p.78-83 – illustrated article (Servalan by David Miller)
  • TV Zone no.53 (October 2003) pp.94-97 – illustrated article (Federation beware! by Paul Darrow)
  • TV Zone no.63 p.26 – illustrated article
  • TV Zone no.64 (March 1995) pp.18-19 – illustrated article (Blake’s seven season 2 by Richard Houldsworth)
  • TV Zone September 1995 pp.36-41 – illustrated interview with Fiona Cumming (Fiona Cumming directing in time and space by Jane Killick)
  • TV Zone no.125 (April 2000) p.65 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7 in TV Zone by Andrew Pixley)
  • TV Zone no.146 (January 2002) pp.42-46 – illustrated article (Killer by Andrew Pixley)
  • TV Zone no.156 (November 2002) pp.48-56 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7: ‘The Dirty Dozen’ in space by Andrew Pixley)
  • TV Zone no.163 (June 2003) pp.18-19 – illustrated article (Blake’s invasion! by Andrew Pixley)
  • TV Zone no.179 (September 2004) pp.60-64 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7: Shadow by Andrew Pixley)
  • TV Zone no.187 (May 2005) pp.50-54 – illustrated article (Blake’s 7: Star One by Andrew Pixley)

Books

  • A History and Critical Analysis of Blake’s 7, the 1978-1981 British Television Space Adventure by John Kenneth Muir – credits, synopses, reviews
  • Terry Nation’s Blake’s 7: The Programme Guide by Tony Attwood – credits, episode guide, synopses