A4: TIME SQUAD

 

RADIO TIMES: On their way to attack the Federation communication complex on the planet Saurian Major, Blake and his crew discover a mysterious projectile drifting in space and take it on board the Liberator.

Broadcast: Monday 23rd January, 1978: 7.15pm-8.10pm, BBC 1

Writer: Terry Nation

Director: Pennant Roberts

"Except that we're not going to hide. Very soon now the Federation ships will know exactly where we are. Or at least where we've been." Blake

GUEST CAST: Tony Stuart, Mark McBride, Frank Henson (Aliens)

FACT FILE

 

  • Time Squad was watched by 8.9m viewers.

 

  • The script was commissioned in early 1977 and was originally scheduled as the sixth episode of Series A. It was then pushed back to replace the aborted script Locate and Destroy. This earlier script still featured the characters of Arco, Selman and Klein who were originally part of the crew. 

 

  • In the draft script the aliens in the capsule were named as Morro, Alden and Lime. They are not named on screen.

 

  • The episode was directed by Pennant Roberts who had worked extensively on Doctor Who and Survivors. The sequences on the surface of Saurian Major were the first scenes to be filmed for Blake’s 7. The scenes were filmed at Betchworth Quarry in Reigate, Surrey on Thursday 29th September 1977. 

 

  • A red filter was placed on the camera as Saurian Major was described as having a red tint in the script. This also explains Cally’s red combat gear. In Trevor Hoyle’s novelisation, Blake explains the red tint to Vila. ‘There’s an upper layer gas strata that filters out the other parts of the spectrum and gives everything a reddish hue.’ 

 

  • Plastic alien plants were supplied by visual effects and dotted around the quarry. 

 

  • Doubles stood in for Chappell and Thomas for the scenes of Cally and Blake sliding down the ravine.

 

  • The exterior scenes of the Federation Transceiver Complex were filmed at Oldbury-on-Severn Nuclear Power Station near Bristol on 30th September, 1977. The production team would return to this location during Series B for the episodes Redemption and Killer.

 

  • Rehearsals for Time Squad  commenced on Wednesday 23rd November, 1977. Paul Darrow and Gareth Thomas had to miss some of the rehearsals as they were required for filming at Black Park in Buckinghamshire for The Web

 

  • Trouble brewed on set due to a demarcation dispute about the transport of the space capsule prop across the road and into the studio. The wings of the prop had to be removed which caused further delays and a lighting dispute added to the director’s woes. Ultimately Roberts ran out of recording and a remount was needed on the episode. He was allocated an extra studio day with the episode Seek-Locate-Destroy. The scenes of Jenna and Gan on the flight deck were recorded as part of the remount on the evening of Wednesday 21st December in TC3. 

 

  • For Lime’s death, a spark generator was superimposed across actor Frank Henson’s chest. 

 

  • The sequences of the Liberator in space used animated sequences supplied by Bob Blagden who had also created the opening titles. This technique was dropped as the series progressed.

 

  •  The device used by Gan to heal the bruise on Jenna’s arm was used once more in Duel and can be seen next to the tranquiliser pads in Breakdown. It is described in the novelisation as an infra-sonic healer.

 

  • Dudley Simpson’s music score for the episode was recorded with his orchestra on Thursday 29th December, 1977 at Lime Grove Studios. This episode used a shortened version of the closing credit music which ran to one-minute five seconds rather than the usual one-minute sixteen seconds.

 

  • Time Squad was reviewed by Stanley Reynolds, the television critic of The Times, the day following its broadcast. Reynolds commented that it was "...nice to hear the youngsters holding their breath in anticipation of a little terror. Television science fiction has got too self-consciously jokey lately. It is also nice to have each episode complete within itself, while still carrying on the saga of Blake's struggle against the 1984-ish Federation. But is that dark-haired telepathic alien girl, the latest addition to Blake's outer-space merry men, going to spell love trouble for blonde Jenna? Maid Marian never had that trouble in Sherwood Forest.”  

 

CREATING CALLY

 

  • The major function of the episode was to introduce the final member of ‘Blake’s 7’. Cally was described in the script as ‘striking, beautiful, tall, slim and athletic.’ Terry Nation recalled creating the character in an interview with Joe Nazzaro for TV Zone, Issue 33. “Cally was going to be the icy cold, slightly weird one. We had this big fight about her because I wanted her to have contact lenses, and she would go into these trances, and we would change the lenses on her eyes. She was from another race and people, and I wanted to make her different.”

 

  • Cally was introduced to give more balance to the team as originally Jenna was the only female character. It was decided that she should be brunette in order to provide a contrast with the blonde Jenna. She was likened to an Israeli girl soldier. Chris Boucher discussed Cally’s telepathic abilities at length with Doctor Christopher Evans a the National Physical Laboratory. Evans went on to write the Radio Times article which introduced the series.

 

  • Actresses considered for the role of Cally included Gennie Nevinson, Sabina Franklyn (later to appear in Moloch), Hilary Ryan, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Jan Chappell, Suzan Farmer, Jenny Truelove, Cyd Hayman and Francis Tomelty. Jan Chappell was given the role of after an interview on Tuesday 19th July. She was originally considered for the role of Jenna after David Maloney spotted her in Fair Slaughter, a play which also starred David Jackson. Chappell had reservations about taking the part but ultimately she was pleased to have regular work. 

 

GAN'S LIMITER

 

  • Time Squad was the first episode to feature Gan’s limiter. The exact nature of this device is subject to some debate wtihin fandom. In their book Liberation, Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore suggest that the limiter was fitted to stop him from killing for sexual pleasure. An early draft of the script was much clearer about the nature of the limiter. This aspect of the script was retained in the novelisation and the entire sequence simplified Gan’s back story.  There is no mention of the death of his ‘woman’ or his killing of the guard responsible. 

 

DRAFT SCRIPT EXTRACT: 

 

GAN: If it ever comes to kill or be killed, I can’t win on my own. 

(He leans forward and parts his hair so that Jenna can see a small bald patch with a criss-crossed pattern of stiching scars.)

JENNA: An implant?

GAN: A limiter. I can defend myself up to a point but the limiter makes me incapable of killing.

JENNA: Even if you were going to be killed yourself?

GAN: That’s what I meant when I said I need people I can count on. If it came to the crunch (he holds out his hand and tightens it into a fist) I’d just lock, mentally and physically. I’m incapable of directly causing the death of another.

JENNA: Was the implantation ordered by the Court?

GAN: No, it was done before my trial. They needed humans for their research, so I was just handed over. Most of the time it has no effect, only if I’m involved in a situation where there is violence or aggression. That’s when it operates.

 

 

 

EPISODE GALLERY

Please click on the image for larger view and details.

 

 

Cally on Saurian Major

Cally on Saurian Major

Striking publicity shot of Cally (Jan Chappell). BBC copyright image.

Cally

Cally

BBC copyright image.

Cally confronts Blake

Cally confronts Blake

CALLY: Try that again, and I'll blow your head off. BBC copyright image.

Blake meets Cally

Blake meets Cally

Blake (Gareth Thomas) and Cally (Jan Chappell) on location. BBC copyright image.

Cally and Blake

Cally and Blake

Blake (Gareth Thomas) and Cally (Jan Chappell) on location. BBC copyright image.

Cally questions Blake

Cally questions Blake

CALLY: May you die alone and silent. BBC copyright image.

Blake

Blake

Publicity shot of Gareth Thomas (Blake). BBC copyright image.

Blake turns the tables on Cally

Blake turns the tables on Cally

Gareth Thomas & Jan Chappell during their fight scene in Time Squad. BBC copyright image.

Vila and Avon

Vila and Avon

Vila (Michael Keating) and Avon (Paul Darrow) on Day One of filming on Blake's 7. BBC copyright image.

Avon and Vila explore Saurian Major

Avon and Vila explore Saurian Major

Vila (Michael Keating) and Avon (Paul Darrow) on Day One of filming on Blake's 7. BBC copyright image.

Avon on Saurian Major

Avon on Saurian Major

Paul Darrow on location for Time Squad. BBC copyright image.

David Maloney and Jan Chappell

David Maloney and Jan Chappell

Producer David Maloney makes a quick repair to Jan Chappells gun on location for Tme Squad. BBC copyright image.

Avon, Blake and Vila

Avon, Blake and Vila

BBC copyright image.

Avon, Blake and Vila

Avon, Blake and Vila

BBC copyright image.

Avon, Blake and Vila

Avon, Blake and Vila

BBC copyright image.

Avon, Blake and Vila

Avon, Blake and Vila

Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow and Michael Keating take a break from filming. BBC copyright image.

Avon, Blake, Cally and Vila

Avon, Blake, Cally and Vila

BBC copyright image.

Avon, Blake and Cally

Avon, Blake and Cally

BBC copyright image.