C6: CITY AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
RADIO TIMES: In an ancient and deserted city on the planet Keezarn, Vila struggles to open a mysterious vault. The penalty for failure is death. The reward for success is not much better.
Monday, 11 February 1980: 7.15pm-8.10pm
Bayban - Colin Baker
Kerril - Carol Hawkins
Norl - Valentine Dyall
Sherm- John J. Carney
Writer - Chris Boucher
Director - Vere Lorrimer
Designer - Don Taylor, Gerry Scott
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 - Riita Lynn
Film Cameraman - Peter Chapman
Film Recordist - Ian Sansam
Senior Cameraman - Dave White
Film Editor - Sheila S Tomlinson
Vision Mixer - Paul Del Bravo
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 - Nicholas Rocker
Make Up Artist - Sheelagh J. Wells
Music By - Dudley Simpson
Series Created By - Terry Nation
Chris Boucher enjoyed writing for Michael Keating and was keen to write a script that built up the character of Vila. Boucher was also spurred on by comments from Michael Keating’s daughter who felt that Vila was too silly.
The script was originally developed as Episode 4 of the season but was pushed back to sixth place.
The scenes in the teleport bay were recorded in TC3 on the evening of 3 October 1979.
City at the Edge of the World was recorded alongside Aftermath, both directed by Vere Lorrimer. Many publicity shots were taken of the cast in their City outfits on the set of the underwater base from Aftermath.
The first scene of the story had served as one of the audition pieces for the actors testing for Tarrant.
Vila’s original line was “I don’t have to take any crap about it from you” but this was toned down.
The script makes several mentions of Blake and we find out he is still at the top of the Federation’s most wanted list. The production were keen to show that Blake was still out there somewhere in the universe.
The key location for the episode was moorland near Pately Bridge, North Yorkshire. Filming took place from Mon 13 to Weds 15 August 1979. Also filmed at this time were brief sequences from Aftermath featuring Cy Grant who had been unavailable for the previous week’s filming.
The production crew were hampered by extremely bad weather on location. A glass matte shot of Vila looking at the city in the distance had to be abandoned due to high winds. The wigs worn by the extras playing the natives of Keezarn also had a tendency to be blown off. Lorrimer realized they wouldn’t be able to complete the planned filming schedule so he edited parts of the script. Jan Chappell was very upset as a number of her key lines were cut.
Vere Lorrimer had directed Colin Baker in The Brothers where he played the villainous Paul Merroney. Four years later Baker went on to play the sixth Doctor Who where he worked with many Blake’s 7 luminaries.
The script specified that Dayna produced the heat-seeking device from a pouch in her costume. Josette Simon’s costume didn’t have a pouch so it’s left to the viewer’s imagination where the bomb came from! The script described a beetle-like explosive that would creep around a corner and kill Bayban’s men.
A small model landscape was built to represent the alien planet visited by Vila and Kerril. A basic set was constructed using a small pond and pot plants for the scene on ‘Vila World’. This sequence was originally to have been filmed on location but the extreme weather ruled this out. A CSO backdrop was used to project the small model landscape behind the actors.
This was Michael Keating’s favourite episode.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“Blake’s 7 was fun. We had a director who was one of the nicest men that I’ve ever met in TV. I dressed in black leather with skull and cross bones, and I ate the scenery!”
Colin Baker (Bayban)
“That story was written for me. I told the script editor that my daughter, who was about five or six at the time, thought Vila was stupid, and Chris Boucher said, 'I'll write you a story where you get the girl'. The girl turned out to be Carol Hawkins, and I worked with Colin Baker too - he's a lovely man.”
Michael Keating, Visual Effects Assistant, interviewed by Graeme Wood in TV Zone Issue 27 (1992).