The first in a series of spin-off novels is announced by BIG FINISH PRODUCTIONSLONDON, December 14, 2011: The first of Big Finish’s original BLAKE’S 7 novels is set for publication in May 2012. The books are being released in a licence deal with B7 Enterprises.
Written by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott, THE FORGOTTEN is set between the TV episodes MISSION TO DESTINY and DUEL, where rebels Blake, Avon, Cally, Jenna, Vila and Gan are still coming to terms with their new life aboard the Liberator.
After carrying out a successful attack against a Federation communications station on Xantos Beta, the Liberator is hounded by Travis into an area of negative space – an area that appears blank on all star charts. As the Liberator penetrates deeper into the sector, the journey become increasingly erratic, and Jenna struggles to keep the ship under control as Zen goes offline and all systems shut down. The abandoned space station they see looming ahead seems like the crew's only chance of survival. But they don't know what is waiting for them on board… or that their troubles have only just started.
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright have been writing together for over 10 years, and are best known for the Doctor Who audio dramas featuring The Forge, which began with Project: Twilight in 2001. The Forge returned in Project: Lazarus (2003), Project: Destiny (2010) and the original novel Project: Valhalla (2005). They are also the producers of Big Finish’s range of Iris Wildthyme audios, featuring Katy Manning, which is due to return in 2012.
Fans of BLAKE’S 7 since the broadcast of The Way Back in 1978, Cavan and Mark are thrilled to be working on one of the first new BLAKE’S 7 novels in over 25 years. “I remember making a teleport bracelet after Blue Peter did a feature all those years go, and playing BLAKE’S 7 in the school playground,” says Mark. “To now be creating a new adventure for the original crew of the Liberator is one of those dream jobs that comes along every now and then.”
“It’s a real privilege to be part of Big Finish’s BLAKE’S 7 revival,” adds Cavan. “The
challenge is to create a modern adventure that remains true to the exciting, gritty universe that Terry Nation created all those years ago. I hope we do Blake and co proud!”
THE FORGOTTEN is available to pre-order now in hardback.
A series of enhanced audiobooks entitled Blake’s 7: The Liberator Chronicles is also being released by Big Finish, available from February 2012.
BLAKE’S 7: LUCIFER Paul Darrow writes the third Blake’s 7 novel, Lucifer
Many legends surround the aftermath of the collapse of The Federation, including the fate of Kerr Avon…
What happened to Avon after the death of Blake and the crew of the Scorpio? Paul Darrow's vivid re-imagining picks up Avon’s story at the final moments of the final episode of Blake's 7 and follows him on his fight for survival, this time with no crew and no ship to help him.
The adventure continues years later as Avon, now an old man, finds himself a key player in the game of power politics being played out on a grand scale by The Quartet - four ruthless leaders in an uneasy alliance, who govern the world in place of the Federation. Old enemies resurface and dangerous new ones appear as the time comes for old scores to finally be settled...
Lucifer is published as one in a range of Blake’s 7 novels from Big Finish Productions in a licence deal with B7 Media. Paul Darrow is an English actor best known for his portrayal of Kerr Avon in the BBC series Blake's 7. In 2012, he returned to the role in Big Finish's Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles, a series of dramatic readings, and full-cast audio drama Warship.
“It’s been an honour to continue the story of Kerr Avon in print,” says Paul, “and I’ve greatly enjoyed the process of writing Lucifer. The book is now complete, and we’ll be heading into the recording studio in the Autumn to record the audiobook version, which will be released alongside the novel.”
Lucifer will be published in May 2013 and is available for pre-order now, price £14.99 in hardback, and £12.99 as an ebook. The audiobook of Lucifer is also available for pre-order for £25 on CD, and £20 on download.
The Forgotten by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott is available to buy now, while Archangel by Scott Harrison is out in November and available for pre-order.
The first volume of Blake’s 7: The Liberator Chronicles is also available from bigfinish.com.
Big Finish is proud to announce the second book in the new series of original Blake's 7 novels.
Written by Scott Harrison and set between the TV stories Trial and Killer, Archangel finds the rebels trying to move on from the horrific death of crew-member Olag Gan.
When an old friend of Blake’s – believed to have been murdered five years earlier by the Federation – is discovered alive in a labour camp on Sigma Minor, the rebels decide to mount a daring rescue attempt. But the talented cybernetic engineer Blake once knew is a shadow of his former self. His memory has been wiped, his family are prisoners of the Federation, and his name is inextricably linked to a sinister project known only by a codename: Archangel.
Archangel: An ultra-secret experiment so dangerous, so horrific, so terrifying that it was shut down by the High Council and ordered never to be reopened... until now.
This time, death may be the Liberator crew’s best option.
An audio drama that reunites the original surviving Blake's 7 TV cast members has been released by Big Finish - a month ahead of schedule.
Set during the Galactic War, Warship - written by Peter Anghelides and directed by Ken Bentley - is a two-disc special, with the adventure on one disc and a behind-the-scenes documentary on the other.
It brings together Gareth Thomas as Roj Blake, Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon, Michael Keating as Vila Restal, Jan Chappell as Cally, Sally Knyvette as Jenna Stannis, and Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan, with Alistair Lock as Zen and Orac.
Peter Tuddenham, who originally provided the voices of Zen and Orac, died in 2007 and David Jackson, who played crew member Gan in the first two seasons of the TV show, died in 2005.
An alien fleet stands poised to invade Federation space. The only vessel available to hold it back is the Liberator, commanded by Roj Blake and his crew.
As an intergalactic war breaks out, old enemies become allies, friends will become separated, and Blake will be forced to leave behind all that matters to him . . .
It can be bought as a CD and download. The tie-in novelisation, expanding on the story's events and developments, will be published next month as planned as an e-book.
Given that over the past 15 years, Big Finish Productions has acquired the rights to do audio spin-offs of a variety of cult SF and fantasy TV programmes – Doctor Who, The Tomorrow People, Robin Hood, Dark Shadows, Highlander, even Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis – it is a little surprising that it is only in the last year that the company has (finally) acquired the rights to Blake's 7.
Even then, the new adventures of Blake's crew have been largely limited to the first two volumes of The Liberator Chronicles, with some members of the original cast – Gareth Thomas (Blake), Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Jan Chappell (Cally) and Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan) – performing two-hander narratives, either with each other or with another guest actor playing a completely new part. If long-suffering, diehard fans of the original series have wanted full-cast dramas with the Liberator crew (and not simply stories told by one of the crew), then they've had to console themselves with BF's supplementary range of B7 novels (The Forgotten and Archangel, to date).
In January, all that changed with the release of Warship, the first full-cast B7 audio released by Big Finish and the first story since the second series, in 1979, to feature members of the original cast (yes, if you want to be pedantic, there have been other full-cast audio iterations of B7 since the 1990s, produced by BBC Radio, Magic Bullet Productions and B7 Media respectively, but nonetheless, most of those productions could only muster some of the original cast or they recast the characters altogether).
All the aforementioned original actors return for Warship, along with Sally Knyvette reprising her role as feisty smuggler Jenna. Only sound guru Alistair Lock is the "odd one out", ably doubling as the voices of the Liberator's flight computer Zen and the supercilious computer Orac (parts originally played in the TV series by the late Peter Tuddenham; long-time fans of other B7 audio productions, though, will be aware that Lock also played Zen in the short-lived B7 Media audio revival a few years ago).
Warship is by far the best B7 audio that Big Finish has produced so far. As first-rate and as innovative as Big Finish is at doing two-hander plays, there is no substitute for a full-cast drama. Fuelled by one's own listening imagination, the solid writing by self-professed B7 fan Peter Anghelides, the zest of the original cast and Lock's sound design and incidental music (which recaptures the flavour of original composer Dudley Simpson), Warship is the closest thing we've had to a B7 TV episode in more than 30 years.
The "authenticity" of the story is further helped by its placement in the B7 canon. It neatly bridges the "gap", so to speak, between the second and third TV series. The second one ended on a cliffhanger, with the Liberator acting as the first line of defence against an extra-terrestrial invasion from outside Federation space. When the show resumed, the invasion had been repelled, the Federation had lost more than half of its forces in the war, and the Liberator crew was forced to temporarily abandon ship. Most importantly, the third series began with the loss of its titular character, with Blake going AWOL with little explanation (Thomas having departed the series) and Avon taking charge of the Liberator. Warship goes part of the way to explaining what happened in the interim.
To his credit, Anghelides doesn't just provide a filler between seasons. While it is a logical sequel or companion to second series finale Star One, he introduces enough new, fresh elements into the narrative to make it engaging and exciting while still keeping the writing tight. Warship has all the hallmarks of a studiobound B7 episode (the major setpiece being the Liberator itself), with the action played out mainly between the core characters. Anghelides, though, doesn't shy away from giving the story a celestial, expansive feel and his climax is of such Hollywood blockbuster-style proportions that it would have been well beyond the scope of a TV episode. (Well, the climax could – and probably would - have been attempted on TV but the result would have been decidedly shaky on a 1970s budget! Then again, I suspect even that may be a knowing wink on Anghelides' part!)
However, what makes Warship so successful is how much it feels like a B7 episode in its own right – and that would not have been possible without the inclusion of the original cast. Blake's 7 was so successful on TV because of its strong characterisation and ultimately it is the characters that bring the story to life.
It is a delight to hear all of the principal actors back in their roles and playing off each other. Anghelides can write all the clever one-liners he wants – but if Darrow and Keating, for example, aren't there to execute the delivery, then the battle is half-lost. This is something that is most noticeable in Big Finish's B7 novels – the wordplay between the characters is so flat in places that you realise just how integral the original actors are to making the lines sound right. Similarly, when B7 Media relaunched B7 a few years ago for audio with the characters recast, it was obvious – painfully so! – just how much the original actors had made the parts their own (for example, in the revamped version, Avon was portrayed by Colin Salmon, who did his best with that part but ultimately wasn't a patch on Darrow's acerbic wit).
The repartee between the characters in Warship is worthy of the original series, whether it be exchanges between Blake and Avon, Avon and Vila, Vila and Jenna, or even Cally and Servalan. Anghelides' dialogue, delivered perfectly by the cast, recaptures the dynamic of the original Liberator crew on TV. Although their voices may have become more seasoned with age, Thomas, Darrow, and Keating re-create their roles effortlessly and in turn reprise their on-screen chemistry – the Blake/Avon rivalry and the Avon/Vila double act – as if three decades have not elapsed at all. Even Cally and Jenna, who by the end of the second series had reverted to "housewife status" on the Liberator, get to say some of the best lines and earn their own slices of the action. In Warship, Knyvette and Chappell get the chance for redemption and take it with a vengeance (indeed, both actors discuss their relief at being given something positive to do in the supplementary documentary disc in this release). Although her part in the story is relatively minor, Pearce clearly relishes her lines as Servalan. Even in the face of mutually assured destruction, the listener is reminded of just how duplicitous and cunning Servalan was on TV. As mentioned earlier, Lock also does a creditable job as the ship's computers, recreating Orac's haughtiness - "Kindly do not interrupt while I am enumerating the possibilities!" – and Zen's bombastic, yet precise tones – "That information is not available."
Warship is a magnificent return to form for the Blake's 7 franchise; it has been well worth the wait after a couple of indifferent efforts on audio in a period spanning 17 years and some early workman-like efforts by Big Finish's Liberator Chronicles. Although Big Finish's immediate plans are to do a few more volumes of The Liberator Chronicles over the next 18 months, hopefully the positive reception that Warship has received since its release will convince BF that full-cast B7 audio dramas are the way of the future. There is really no reason why BF cannot follow its successful Doctor Who template of creating "event" box sets, such as the recent Dark Eyes and UNIT: Dominion. It's what the fans obviously want, but no doubt Cally's old Auron saying rings true here too: "Before you desire, you should deserve!" We'll obviously need to pledge our support with our purses first if we are to deserve at least one more full-cast narrative with the original B7 crew.
Big Finish have released the latest box set in their Liberator Chronicles series. Volume 4 includes the stories Promises by Nigel Fairs, starring Jan Chappell as Cally and Stephen Greif as Travis; Epitaph by Scott Harrison Starring Sally Knyvette as Jenna and Michael Keating as Vila; and Kerr by Nick Wallace, starring Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan and Paul Darrow as Kerr.
In Promises by Nigel Fairs,telepath Cally (Jan Chappell) forces Blake’s enemy Travis (Stephen Greif) to confront a secret from his past – a secret that involves them both…
Epitaph by Scott Harrison, stars Sally Knyvette as Jenna and Michael Keating as Vila. When Jenna and Vila answer a distress signal, they begin a journey that will lead to the surviving members of Jenna’s family.
Finally, in Kerr by Nick Wallace, Servalan hopes to gain an insight into the crew of the Liberator by creating a clone of Kerr Avon. But can the clone be trusted? Jacqueline Pearce stars as Servalan and Paul Darrow as Avon.
The surviving original TV cast of Blake's 7 are being brought back together again in six new audio plays.
The Big Finish dramas will launch in January 2014 with Fractures by Justin Richards, in which an escape from a Federation pursuit ship leaves the crew of the Liberator licking their wounds. As the dust settles, realisation gradually dawns that the trust and camaraderie that has built up between them is dissolving - and one of the crew is working against the rest.
The audios see the return of Gareth Thomas as Roj Blake, Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon, Michael Keating as Vila Restal, Sally Knyvette as Jenna Stannis, Jan Chappell as Cally, and Brian Croucher as Travis, while Alistair Lock voices the computers Zen and Orac.
The writers for the rest of the season are Andrew Smith, Marc Platt, Peter Anghelides, Mark Wright, and Cavan Scott.
The news follows the release earlier this year of Anghelides' audio drama Warship, which first saw the original surviving Liberator team reunited. David Jackson, who played crew member Olag Gan, died in 2005, while Peter Tuddenham - the voice of Zen and Orac on TV - died two years later.
Producer David Richardson said:
I was delighted that our first full-cast Blake's 7 audio, Warship, received such glowing reviews and a rapturous reception. I'm therefore thrilled that we're able to continue with more full-cast stories, which are set during the second season of the TV show, as a worrying revelation forces Blake to interrupt his search for the Federation control centre Star One.
The series is being released in a licence deal with B7 Media, and Andrew Mark Sewell, the executive producer of B7 Media, said:
It's great to be working with Big Finish on more full-cast Blake's 7 stories. Given this year marks the 35th anniversary since the TV series first aired, these epic-sounding audio adventures are a great way for fans to celebrate Blake's 7 enduring legacy.
After Fractures comes out, the other stories - whose titles are yet to be revealed - will be released monthly until June.
Big Finish have announced the release of Anthology, the latest book in their series of original Blake's 7 novels
Anthology comprises three novellas written by the winners of the 2012 Big Finish Writers Opportunity. The stories are: Berserker, Cold Revolution and Trigger Point.
Berserker by RA Henderson When the weapons research facility on space station Amber was shut down, something got left behind. Blake is determined to find out what...
Cold Revolution by MG Harris Kartvel claims to have escaped Federation control – without bloodshed. But is all as it seems on this mysterious planet?
Trigger Point by GF Taylor Infiltration and explosions are one way the Liberator crew can help the resistance on the corrupt planet Belzanko, but can a subtler approach work too?
Other original novels in Big Finish's B7 range:
The Forgotten by Mark Wright & Cavan Scott - hardback and ebook Archangel by Scott Harrison - hardback and ebook Warship by Peter Anghelides - ebook only Lucifer by Paul Darrow - hardback, ebook and audio book (read by Paul Darrow)
As for the novels, they're not too bad and nice to see after all this time. They don't provide anything new, they're just standard stories modelled after the series and don't seek to take the show into any new territory.
The Darrow novel is a bit off the wall though, and very 'overwritten' in parts, with dialogue that occasionally I couldn't envisage anyone saying - at least not the way Darrow has written it.
Worth a look for sure if you're a B7 fan; they're on Kindle too.