RADIO TIMES: In a desperate attempt to delay the invading aliens long enough for the Federation battle fleet to arrive, Blake has sacrificed the Liberator. As the space war rages the crew prepare to abandon their crippled ship...
Monday, 7 January 1980: 7.15pm-8.10pm
Hal Mellanby - Cy Grant
Chel - Alan Lake
Lauren - Sally Harrison
Troopers - Richard Franklin, Michael Melia
Writer - Terry Nation
Director - Vere Lorrimer
Producer - David Maloney
Script Editor - Chris Boucher
Stunt Co-ordinator - Stuart Fell
Production Assistant - John Harris
Production Unit Manager - Sheelagh Rees
Director's Assistant - Christine Fawcett
Assistant Floor Manager - Rita Lynn
Film Cameraman - Peter Chapman, Anthony Mayne
Film Recordist - Ian Sansam
Film Editor - Sheila S Tomlinson
Series Videotape Editors - Sam Upton (Uncredited), Malcolm Banthorpe (Uncredited)
Visual Effects Designer - Steve Drewitt, Jim Francis
Video Effects - A.J. Mitchell
Graphic Designer - Doug Burd
Studio Lighting - Brian Clemett
Studio Sound - Malcolm Johnson
Special Sound - Elizabeth Parker
Costume Designer - Dee Robson
Make Up Artist - Sheelagh J. Wells
Music By - Dudley Simpson
Series Created By - Terry Nation
On Tuesday, 20th February 1979 the Sun newspaper published a story with the headline: IS BLAKE AT SIXES WITH HIS SEVEN? "Blake’s 7 will survive the attack of the Federation and go on to a third series – even if it means doing it without Blake. Already the BBC are making plans for another series of 13 weeks’ of star-struck adventures. But Gareth Thomas who plays Blake may have other ideas. So far he hasn’t signed up for the third series. Producer David Maloney says 'We are in a very flexible stage at the moment. Terry Nation, the creator of the series, is working on the outline of the next 13 episodes. We are certainly hoping that Gareth will be with us.' "
After being turned down for a chance to direct some episodes, Gareth Thomas left Blake’s 7 to go to the RSC, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of cameo appearances. Frustrated at the lack of character development for Jenna, Sally Knyvette also decided to leave the series. Knyvette had tried to leave after the first series but was not released from her contract.
The idea of killing off Blake and Jenna was rejected and it was decided to simply have the characters go missing which would leave open the possibility of a return at some point in the future. The production team also considered destroying the Liberator and having the crew transfer to another ship.
Actresses considered for Dayna included Floella Benjamin, Marina Sirtis, Caroline Langrishe, Brioney Roberts, Joanne Pearce, Debbie Blythe and Kirstie Pooley.
Maloney had to fight to get Josette Simon as she had only just left drama school and didn’t have an equity card. He had to see the Afro/Asian Committee of Equity to put his case and Simon was eventually given a temporary card once they were convinced no one else was suitable for the part.
Hal Mellanby was played by respected actor Cy Grant. He shot to fame singing the news on the BBC Tonight programme in the 1950’s. He also provided the voice of Lieutenant Green in Captain Scarlet.
Chel, leader of the Sarrans, was played by Alan Lake, the husband of Diana Dors. He had quite a fearsome reputation and certain members of the production crew were rather wary of him.
Filming took place at Bamburgh in Northumberland on Tuesday, August 7th to Friday 10th. The first scenes to be filmed were the shots of the horses on the sand with Alan Lake doing all his own riding. Stuntman Stuart Fell also took part in these sequences. Large crowds of onlookers gathered to watch proceedings and Lorrimer was forced to position the cameras low down to avoid getting them in shot. He was largely successful but one brief scene did feature a member of the public making an impromptu cameo.
Another mishap on location occurred during filming of Jacqueline Pearce’s initial scene. Her outfit was particularly flimsy and became caught on a bramble as she walked out of shot causing the outfit to split revealing Pearce’s bare behind. The actress was completely unfazed by this and remarked, “Take a good look boys, I usually charge for this!”
Cy Grant was not available for this filming period so his exterior scenes were filmed on August 13 on a hillside near Ripon during filming for City at the Edge of the World. His scenes were later edited together with the exterior scenes shot in Bamburgh.
The space battle, which opened the episode, consisted of stock footage, primarily from Star One with further material from Duel, Shadow and Hostage.
The departure of Gareth Thomas meant that a new title sequence would be needed. Original title sequence designer, Bob Blagden, was not available to provide a replacement so the task was handed to another designer, Doug Burd.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“I was at Central and the BBC were doing a programme called Star Turn Challenge, which was a kind of charades game, and they used to record it on Sundays and have a camera rehearsal in the morning. They wanted five students from Central to go along and go through all the motions for the cameras and in the afternoon they recorded it. Well, I was one of these five students. Then they were casting Dayna in Blake’s 7 and they couldn’t find the right girl, so I hear, and someone remembered me from Star Turn Challenge and called me up and I had a screen test and an interview and that was that.”
Josette Simon, interviewed by Horizon in 1981.
“Personally, to have Josette and Steven in the third series was a great boost, a great injection of vitality into the series. I’d done two and it had got a bit boring by the second and so having two new people – and such nice people – in it made it quite different and thus made the third series much more enjoyable. No reflection on Gareth and Sally at all, but it was just the change, the new ingredient. They integrated extremely well.”
Jan Chappell, interviewed by Horizon in 1981.
“Because of the kind of programme it was, Josette had to move, and jump over rocks and crawl through tunnels, so it couldn’t be anything with too many trimmings. We kept to fairly simple, tight-fitting lines that stayed close to the body, but we started her off as a slightly Grecian figure, like Diana of the hunt. She started off by running down the beach, shooting an arrow, and she was a wild, free spirit.”
Costume designer Dee Robson, interviewed by Terminal in 1990.
“Vere asked was I willing to die for him, and I said ‘I’d do anything for you, Vere.’ He asked if I’d like a couple of days filming because I was going on holiday in western Ireland, and on my way back I was taking on the job of associate director of a theatre in Chesterfield in the north of England, and I had to pass through where Vere was filming Aftermath, so I said ‘Yes, I’d love to do it.’”
Richard Franklin, interviewed by Joe Nazzaro in 1988.
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Dayna and Avon
Josette Simon and Paul Darrow.
Dayna and Avon
Josette Simon and Paul Darrow.
Avon, Dayna and Hal Mellanby.
Paul Darrow, Josette Simon and Cy Grant.
The model ship from Aftermath.
Alan Lake and Stuart Fell
Avon and Servalan
Paul Darrow and Jacqueline Pearce.
David Maloney with Jan Chappell, Jacqueline Pearce and Josette Simon.