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The Top 10 Sci-Fi Shows was broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK on Saturday 13th October 2001. Hosted by Former DrWho, Tom Baker, it covered what the critics considered to be the 10 best Sci-Fi shows to date.

  1. Star Trek
  2. Dr Who
  3. Red Dwarf
  4. Thunderbirds
  5. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  6. Blake's 7
  7. Sapphire and Steel
  8. Tomorrow People
  9. Buck Rogers
  10. Space 1999

The following transcript that was kindly donated to us by Flip, is the 10 minute seqment that spoke about Blakes 7

Transcript by Flip

People involved in this interview:
(KM) Kim Newman (sci-fi critic & author)
(GG) Gary Gillatt (Editor, Starburst magazine)
(PT) Paul Tonkinson (sci-fi fan/comedian)
(GT) Gareth Thomas (Blake in Blakes 7)
(PD) Paul Darrow (Avon in Blakes 7)
(JP) Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan in Blakes 7)


Opens with a commentator talking about 2 January 1978, and the opening of Star
Wars in the cinema.
[scene of punters entering a cinema to see Star Wars]
v/o: But on that very same night, the cinema wasn't sci-fi's only focus. On a TV set in a galaxy much closer to home, confused viewers flocked to the gloomy side of the Force.

[B7 opening titles]

Kim Newman (sci-fi critic & author): I think B7 really wanted to be the definitive
British space opera.
Gary Gillatt (Editor, Starburst magazine): Blake's 7 was a brave attempt at a much
more adult kind of sci-fi.

[clip of Avon drawing his gun and saying 'let's go' from Animals]

KM: It was science-fiction in the way Americans understood it. It wasn't earth-bound, you had space ships, alien races, different planets, whatever. But it was still a British show, i.e. it was bloody miserable.

[Clip of Blake's flashback sequence from The Way Back]

Gareth Thomas (v/o): This was going to be hard-hitting as such [cut to GT talking], it was going to be different, it wasn't just going to be a soft thing for little boys behind... er little boys and little girls sitting on the sofa at 5 o'clock in the afternoon.

[clip of Blake running through the forest with B7 theme music]

V/o: Big-boned Blake led the rebellion against an evil superpower, gallumping around the universe like some kind of inter-galactic pig farmer.

GG: At the core of Blake's 7 was Blake, who was the idealist, and he was setting out with this plan to smash the Federation by whatever means necessary.

[clip of Blake's speech from 'they butchered my family, my friends… to 'free men can think and speak' from Space Fall]

[clip of Liberator flying through space with B7 theme music]

v/o: Blake was joined on his wobbly space ship by [cut to S1 crew on flight deck] a sulky band of freedom fighters, [cut to scene of Fed guards from The Way Back] gloomily hell-bent on smashing the Federation Nazis [cut to shot of Og] and…er… a few monsters.

KN: The whole universe was run by really awful people and even the rebels weren't actually very likeable and they kept squabbling all the time.

[Cut to shot of Blake peering round a tree]

Paul Darrow (v/o): Blake, was your eponymous hero, of course, the Man in the White Hat, [cut to PD talking] but the others, particularly my character, Avon, was by no means anybody's hero. He was a thief, a murderer, an embezzler; [cut to head & shoulders shot of Avon, v/o] he was quite a nasty piece of work.

Paul Tonkinson (sci-fi fan/comedian): It really came to life when the guy who played Avon came on. He was this sort of cynical computer expert, a very… quite dashing. Then the power games started.

[clip of Avon's 'wealth is the only reality' speech from Space Fall]

PD (v/o shot of Blake from the same scene): I felt sorry for Gareth, who was playing Blake, [cut to PD talking] because he had to be heroic. He couldn't hit women, or… shoot people in the back - but I could! And did!

[cut to shot of Avon punching Sara from Mission to Destiny & saying 'I really rather enjoyed that']

GT: I think Avon actually felt, an awful lot of the time, that he was in control… that he was manipulating Blake… and I think there were one or two occasions when he found that he wasn't.

KN: The two male leads: either they really fancied each other or they hated each other, you couldn't quite work it out.

[clip from Duel, on the flight deck, being attacked by pursuit ships: from Avon saying 'our control systems are damaged' to them clutching each other and Avon saying 'as a matter of fact - no I haven't]

KN: No matter how many pretty girls there are on these shows, what counts is the relationship between the two guys.

[slo-mo clip of Avon walking behind Blake in teleport section in Seek-Locate-Destroy, no sound]

V/o: But there was one space chick the guys would ignore at their peril.

[Shot of Servalan from Project Avalon, with Glynis Barber as mutoid in the background, opening chords of Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor over the top]

JP: Servalan, the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation - I think (laughs).

[Cut to 'maximum power' clip from Terminal]

Jayne Dearsley (SFX magazine): She kind of looked a bit like Gary Numan. She had that sort of early Eighties vibe about her, and all the make up and everything, but [cut to shot of Servalan pointing gun from Animals, v/o] she was deliciously evil.

KN: She was like the universe's dominatrix. She also took over the show.

[Cut to various clips of Servalan with slinky jazz track over the top: convulsing; shooting Hal Mellanby]

v/o: Servalan was baaaad and beautiful [clip of Avon & Servalan kissing in Aftermath then him grabbing her chained to the wall in Rumours of Death, jazz still playing] - a potent combination for any confused adolescent.

[clip of Servalan in Gambit]

PT (v/o): She was sort of instrumental in my sexual awakening; [cut to him talking] she definitely had a deep sexual presence.

JP: Guys would come up to me in the street and say 'gosh, you know, you really had an amazing influence on my life at a very [she is gleeful] crucial time', and I knew exactly what they meant, and I'd say 'did it work?' 'yes' [she claps her hands and laughs]. I was thrilled.

[clip of Liberator disintegrating, dramatic music]

v/o: But not everything was spunky-dory. By series 3, Blake had left the show and the programme's less-than-special effects were under fire.

GT: It was 25 years ago. It was a very low-budget show: bargain basement Star Trek, or whatever

Mat Irvine: It actually is true about the original effects budget for Blake's 7 episodes were [clip of Liberator flight deck disintegrating, v/o] fifty pounds an episode.

PD: I don't think it was nearly as bad as people make out: it's exaggerated.

[Clip of Brian the Spider from Harvest of Kairos]

v/o: Fifty quid for a giant ant? Bargain. [cut to scene from Stardrive, Avon shooting space rat in moon buggy thingy] But with Blake long gone, things were getting silly [same scene, Avon says 'Take that!']

KN: In later seasons it shaded towards kind of being a camp show [quick shot of Servalan next to Jarriere in Gambit]… I think it probably didn't appeal very much to actual science-fiction fans because of that.

[Clip from Games of Servalan saying to Avon 'I prefer my slave…']

JP: By that time, as far as I was concerned, the show had run out of steam, ideas, impetus and originality, so I was really gritting my teeth until the end of it.

[Cut to the tracking gallery on Gauda Prime: Avon is holding his gun up, about to walk towards Blake]

v/o: But there was one, last, long-faced hurrah, as 10 million tuned in to see the final episode: the return of Blake, and a shock ending.

[Clip: from Avon 'have you betrayed us? Have you betrayed me?']

GG: I would argue that the most memorable thing about Blake's 7 is the final scene [cut to each character being shot, starting from Dayna, v/o], where it had the bravery to kill off every single one of its characters, and in terms of ending, it must be the bleakest in British television

GT: I loved that ending, I thought it was great: The final misunderstanding.

[cut to Blake: 'I was waiting for you' and Avon shooting him]

PD: I killed Blake; the wonderful payoff, I thought that was a terrific payoff. [cut to Avon standing over Blake, and the final shot of him smiling] The only friend Avon possibly could have had in the universe, he kills.

Back to Tom Baker, who is introducing the show.

TB: Final result: Blake's 7; Babylon 5.

 

See Flip's Site - Three Good Reasons

 

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