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.
following transcript that was kindly donated to us by Flip, is the 10
minute seqment that spoke about Blakes 7
involved in this interview:
with a commentator talking about 2 January 1978, and the opening of Star
[B7 opening titles]
(sci-fi critic & author): I think B7 really wanted to be the definitive
[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.
result: Blake's 7; Babylon 5.