B13: STAR ONE

 

RADIO TIMES: Blake's search for Star One, the secret Federation control centre, takes him to the edge of the galaxy, and humanity to the edge of annihilation... 

Broadcast: Tuesday 3rd April, 1979: 7.20pm-8.10pm, BBC 1

Writer: Chris Boucher

Director: David Maloney (uncredited)

"Avon, for what it is worth, I have always trusted you, from the very beginning." Blake

GUEST CAST

 

Lurena - Jenny Twigge

Stot - David Webb

Parton - Gareth Armstrong

Durkim - John Bown

Marcol - Paul Toothill

Leeth - Michael Maynard

 

CREW

 

Production Assistant - Geoffrey Manton

Production Unit Manager - Sheelagh Rees

Film Cameraman - Max Samett

Model Sequences - Paul V. Wheeler

Film Recordist - John Gatland

Film Editor - Sheila S. Tomlinson

Series Videotape Editors - Sam Upton, Malcolm Banthorpe

Visual Effects Designer - Mat Irvine, Peter Pegrum, Andy Lazell

Electronic Effects - A.J. Mitchell

Studio Lighting - Brian Clemett

Studio Sound - Malcolm Johnson

Special Sound - Elizabeth Parker

Costume Designer - Barbara Kidd

Make Up Artist - Ann Ailes

Music By - Dudley Simpson

Series Created By - Terry Nation

 

FACT FILE

 

  • 8.2 million viewers watched Star One.

 

  • Star One was a very late replacement for an abandoned two-part finale by Terry Nation. Nation’s storyline had also involved Blake teaming up with the Federation against an alien invasion. 

 

  • Maloney commissioned Nation to write the two-part finale on Friday 9 June 1978. The outline for Episode 12 was: Star One theme and aliens introduced. The outline for Episode 13 was: Blake sides with Federation against aliens.

 

  • The Daleks were considered by Nation for the role of the aliens attacking humanity. This idea was quickly vetoed by the production team.

 

  • Episode 12 was due to be delivered on Mon 14 August with Episode 13 due on Thurs 14 Sept.

 

  • On 23 June 1978, a set of notes indicated that Vila and Jenna would be killed in Part One of Nation’s story.

 

  • Nation’s notes: The aliens intend to destroy life on all the Federation planets and repopulate with their own kind.Must Blake now save the Federation?

 

  • By Thurs 21 Sept it was clear that Nation was having serious problems with the episodes. It was agreed to abandon the scripts although Nation did work with Boucher & Maloney on the story outline. Boucher was the obvious choice to replace Nation as he could tie up all the loose ends of Series B. The episode would also need to lead into the new set up for Series C.

 

  • By Tuesday 19 December the production team knew which characters would be returning for Series C. Avon, Cally, Vila and Servalan would stay. Blake and Jenna would be leaving.

 

  • Gareth Thomas and Sally Knyvette had originally been booked for two seasons with options on the BBC’s side.

 

  • Gareth Thomas: "The main reason is that I wanted to direct some. I said ‘Yes, I’ll do the series if I can direct a couple’. Unfortunately at the time it was unheard of in this country. It just wasn’t done. Another reason was that I felt the whole thing was going off a little to ‘With one bound they were free’. Suddenly you had monsters appearing, and I felt this was going away from the original concept. I upset Terry enormously when I left the series. Later on I realized I really had hurt him a lot."

 

  • Thomas had been offered the role of Casio in Othello directed by Trevor Nunn at the RSC.

 

  • Sally Knyvette: "I asked if I could leave and they wouldn’t let me after the first series. They let me leave after the second. It was a good time to leave. Two years is the right time on a series.

 

  • The decision was taken not to recast the roles. Following complaints about Gan’s death, it was decided that Blake and Jenna would simply vanish. Blake and Jenna would disappear before the narrative of Series C opened. Blake’s departure was clearly signposted. Jenna’s was not.

 

  • It was also agreed that Travis had outlived his usefulness, particularly as Blake would no longer be around.

 

  • Boucher developed his script over four weeks and there were very few changes required.

 

  • The aliens were described in the script as looking like ‘a cross between a large spider & the entrails of a horse.’

 

  • Filming for the surface of Star One took place at Old Lightmoor Colliery in Gloucestershire from 5-7 Feb 1979. The explosions on location were so violent that the emergency services came rushing to the scene!

 

  • The original director, Vere Lorrimer, had to drop out and was replaced by David Maloney. Maloney was uncredited as it was against BBC policy to direct and produce a programme.

 

  • Jan Chappell was pleased to be wearing her favourite green leather outfit again. There was a continuity issue with Blake’s costume as Gareth Thomas only wore the green jacket in studio.

 

  • Extensive model filming was required for this episode including the opening sequence with the Nova Queen.

 

  • SCRIPT: Intercut close shots of ships – each slightly shorter than the last culminating in almost subliminal flashes.

 

 

  • The alien battle fleet was constructed by Mat Irvine from materials he had to hand including washing-up liquid bottles. Irvine later said that he should have made the alien fleet of a uniform design. He famously made one of the ships by sticking two hair dryers together.

 

  • Studio recording took place over three days from Tuesday 6 March 1979.

 

  • The Visual Effects Department supplied the model of Star One itself.

 

  • SCRIPT: A fairly undistinguished-looking planet – a sort of olive – drab colour.

 

  • SCRIPT: All control sections are virtually identical…distinguishable by a displayed number or lighting differences.

 

  • The cast wore blank contact lenses for the scenes of the row of corpses. SCRIPT: 8 dead men stand against the wall facing Lurena. In the glaring light their sightless eyes bore into her. Arms are slightly spread and raised as though preparing to lunge at her.

 

  • A simple red lighting effect was used to imply the arrival of Travis’s ship. It was described in the script as 'a small ship of very strange design, a little like a flying saucer'.

 

  • Wednesday 7 March 1979 was Sally Knyvette’s final day on the series.

 

  • Thursday 8 March was the last day of recording for Series B and was the final day for both Gareth Thomas & Brian Croucher.

 

  • Stock footage was used to show the devastation on Palmero, Vilker, Sooni, Heron & Carthenis.

 

  • There was some difficulty in getting the magnetic bomb props to stick in place.

 

 

  • B&W photos of Gareth Armstrong, Jenny Twigge & David Webbe were used for the scenes of Servalan checking the security files.

 

 

  • Roll-back-and-mix was used to merge the shape of the actor into the shape of the alien.

 

  • A green beam was added as an electronic effect on the tool used by Stot.

 

  • The CSO shot of Travis falling into the reactor was the last scene to be recorded for Series B on Thurs 8 March. The gun charge in the costume worn by Brian Croucher was inserted wrongly and emitted a clowd of sawdust on detonation. The crash mat which stunt double Jim Dowdall fell onto inside the generator was clearly visible on screen. Croucher was placed on a Kirby wire against a CSO background so he could be superimposed against the model shaft. Croucher had to wear a harness for this sequence which could still be seen when the zip on his costume jammed. Croucher: "I remember this very camp dresser coming over with a pair of pliers. That's how I remember the end of Blake's 7…"

 

  • A closing announcement claimed that ‘Blake’s 7 will be returning to BBC1 later in the year’. It actually returned the following year.

 

 

EPISODE GALLERY

Coming soon...

 

 

Liberator

Liberator

The Liberator leaves our galaxy. BBC copyright image

Star One

Star One

The Liberator in orbit of Star One. BBC copyright image

Model filming

Model filming

The Nova Queen in the Visual Effects workshop. BBC copyright image

Nova Queen

Nova Queen

The Nova Queen model as it looks today.

Hairdryer

Hairdryer

This spaceship model by Mat Irvine was made by sticking two hairdryers together! Photo copyright Mat Irvine

The Andromodean Fleet

The Andromodean Fleet

The Liberator faces off against the Andromodean Fleet. BBC Copyright image

Cally and Blake

Cally and Blake

BBC copyright image