A1: THE WAY BACK
RADIO TIMES: Life in a domed city of the future is secure and comfortable but Roj Blake, a loyal citizen of the Federation, commits a Category 4 crime by venturing outside it. What he discovers is a nightmare that contradicts everything he knows and threatens an end to his life on Earth...
Broadcast: Monday 2nd January, 1978: 6.00pm-6.50pm, BBC 1
Writer: Terry Nation
Director: Michael E Briant
"His death could be used by the dissidents - they need a hero. Alive or dead, Blake could be it." Alta Morag
GUEST CAST: Robert Beatty (Bran Foster), Robert James (Glynd), Jeremy Wilkin (Tarrant), Michael Halsey (Varon), Pippa Steel (Maja), Gillian Bailey (Ravella), Alan Butler (Richie), Margaret John (Arbiter), Peter Williams (Havant), Susan Field (Alta Morag), Rodney Figaro (Clerk of Court), Nigel Lambert (Computer operator), Garry McDermott (Guard).
The Way Back was watched by 7.4m viewers.
The script was commissioned from Terry Nation on Thursday 11 September 1975. The first draft was called Cygnus Alpha.
The original line-up was Roj Blake, Vila Restal, Jenna Stannis, Arco Trent, Olag Gan, Kerr Avon, Brell Klein and Tone Selman. Arco and Selman appeared briefly in the third episode, Cygnus Alpha, but were killed off.
Actors considered for Blake included Maurice Colbourne, Warren Clarke, Tom Adams, and Donald Sumpter. Gareth Thomas eventually won the role after being recommended to producer David Maloney by Terry Nation.
Actresses considered for Jenna included Felicity Dean, Jan Harvey, Jane Asher & Susan Wooldridge. The role of Jenna eventually went to Sally Knyvette.
Forbes Collins, Mike Grady & Peter Benson were considered for the role of Vila. Director Pennant Roberts recommended Michael Keating for the part of Vila after casting him in Doctor Who.
Other candidates for Cally included Gennie Nevinson, Hilary Ryan, Kathryn Leigh Scott & Frances Tomelty. Jan Chappell got the part after Maloney saw her appearing in a play with David Jackson.
David Jackson as Gan was an old friend of David Maloney’s from theatre work and Z-Cars.
Paul Darrow originally went for the part of Blake.
Peter Tuddenham provided the voice of Zen. He was an old friend of director Vere Lorrimer.
The underground meeting & Blake’s flashbacks were filmed at Monkton Farleigh Ministry of Defence Tunnels, Wiltshire. The barren area outside the Domed City was filmed in scrubland near a stream in Bray, Buckinghamshire. The Domed City was a glass shot of the model built by effects designer Ian Scoones for the title sequence.
Nick Allder lit the model shots of Dome City. He went on to win an Oscar for his work on Alien.
The Way Back was the second episode to be recorded in studio, after Space Fall. The episode was recorded in Studio TC6 at BBC Television Centre from 10-11 November 1977.
Whilst Avon doesn't appear in this episode, he was in Terry Nation's first draft as the convict who says to Blake, "Take a long look, that's the last you'll ever see of Earth!"
Dudley Simpson and his musicians recorded the Blake’s 7 theme at Lime Grove Studios on Tues 11 October, 1977.
The episode was novelised by Trevor Hoyle in Blake's 7: Their First Adventure.
Please click on the image for larger view and details.
The striking image that appeared in the Radio Times article to promote the launch of the series. BBC copyright image.
Blake and Bran
Blake (Gareth Thomas) and Bran Foster (Robert Beatty) discuss Blake's missing memories. BBC copyright image.
Blake (Gareth Thomas) witnesses the massacre of the rebels. BBC copyright image.
Blake in his cell
Blake (Gareth Thomas) is held prisoner by the Federation. BBC copyright image.
Blake, Jenna and Vila
Blake (Gareth Thomas) meets Jenna (Sally Knyvette) and Vila (Michael Keating) for the first time. BBC copyright image.
Blake and Varon
Michael Halsey (Varon) delivers bad news to Blake (Gareth Thomas). BBC copyright image.
Varon and Maja
Michael Halsey (Varon) and Pippa Steel (Maja) during studio rehearsals for The Way Back. BBC copyright image.
The spaceship London on its launch pad. BBC copyright image.
Recording the model footage of Dome City. BBC copyright image.
Ian Scoones/Dome City
Visual Effects Designer Ian Scones adds the finishing touches to Dome City in The Way Back. BBC copyright image.
Test footage of the Dome City. BBC copyright image.
Model filming of Dome City for The Way Back. BBC copyright image.
Ian Scoones' design sketch for Civil Administration Ship London, a converted deep-space freighter.
The design drawing for Dome City by Ian Scoones who handled the majority of VFX in Series A.
Ian Scoones' design sketch for a Federation cargo ship.