BOOK
Liberation: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Blake's 7

Authors: Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Telos Publishing
RRP 9.99 (standard paperback), 30.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 54 5 (standard edition)
ISBN 1 903889 55 3 (deluxe edition)
Available now


Let me start by saying that Blake's 7, the television series which ran from 1978 to 1981, was complete and unadulterated claptrap. I just thought I would get that out of the way first. What do you mean, "Don't you like it, then?" It was cheap and amateurish with many loose scripts which incited overacting by certain cast members. Am I being too harsh? Is this a case of memory cheats, listening to excessive pointless jibes aimed at the show from over the years? Nope. Even a recent BBC rerun on Saturdays proved that my opinion has not changed in 20 years. After little more than ten minutes viewing, washing dishes and Hoovering took on a new appeal.

Blake's 7 most assuredly deserves all the criticism of wobbly sets wrongly aimed at Doctor Who by casual viewers who watched a science fiction series and associated with the long-running Time Lord's adventures. Okay, Doctor Who had its duff moments, but not for virtually its entire duration. No, that was Blake's 7. I still find this amazing, as so many behind-the-scenes people worked on both shows.

However, this is a review of a book about the series, not the series itself, and I'm going to surprise everyone now by stating that this is a very well structured and presented guide. Argh! What am I saying? But it's true. Blake's 7 aficionado Alan Stevens, along with Fiona Moore, has collected together everything you could possibly wish to know. There's a background and genesis, before an in-depth breakdown of each of the three seasons. Each episode contains a detailed synopsis and analysis, as well as cast information, transmission date, viewing figure and chart position. Afterwards a couple of fiction books are examined, and then it's on to the two official BBC Radio 4 plays, The Sevenfold Crown, and The Syndeton Experiment, both written by well-known Doctor Who producer/writer Barry Letts. The final section explores the Independent Audio productions, many written by Alan Stevens himself.

Of course, many of us will already know that Blake's 7 was devised by Terry Nation, whose greatest claim to fame was creating the Daleks for Doctor Who (although not designing them - hello Ray Cusick). He also originated The Survivors, and wrote numerous scripts for popular TV shows of the sixties and seventies. What comes through most strongly reading this guide, particularly early on, is how well-intentioned and determined Nation was that Blake's 7 should effectively display his intended hard-edged political and oppressive atmosphere. Whether it actually happened like that, I'm probably not the best person to say, but it is obvious that when Nation relinquished this project to Chris Boucher due to work commitments elsewhere, the format somewhat lost it's way. Don't ask me if it was better or worse, because to me whatever was intended it failed to materialise on screen.

Telos Publishing deserves credit here for this reference book packaging with quality paper and a computer generated cover image (I can understand how photos of the original modelwork might turn away prospective purchasers; this was experimenting as you go, as it was for Doctor Who). I have no idea if the wealth of information here is accurate, but it certainly looks good.

Ty Power

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cover
Standard Paperback
£9.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
Standard Paperback
£9.99 (WHSmith.co.uk)
   
cover
Deluxe Signed Hardback
£30.00 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
Deluxe Signed Hardback
£30.00 (WHSmith.co.uk)

All prices correct at time of going to press.