Half-way through the making of Series D, the production office issued a new press book with brief plot details for the first six episodes, cast biographies and information about the characters and hardware. Here we present the key content from the press book which includes a number of interesting details about the mythology of the series that were never mentioned on screen.
The New Series - 1981
Episode 1 'Rescue' by Chris Boucher (Director: Mary Ridge)
Stranded on TERMINAL, a forbidding snow-capped planet, Avon and Co. face a bleak future. They are saved by a handsome privateer DORIAN (Geoffrey Burridge) who takes them to a place of safety... or so it seems. Before the episode is over they have faced monsters, volcanic eruptions and a hideous 'thing'.
(The new ship SCORPIO is featured in this opener, and we meet our new crew-member SOOLIN, played by Glynis Barber.)
Episode 2 'Power' by Ben Steed (Director: Mary Ridge)
Deciding to operate from their new subterranean base on XENON the space heroes are dismayed when they find themselves trapped underground. They escape only to run into the HOMMIKS, a savage primaeval group, whose reaction to anything that moves is "kill it". Dayna is almost vanquished in combat with GUN-SAR, the Hommik leader, when help comes from an unexpected source.
(GUN-SAR is played by Dicken Ashworth and the fights are staged by Stuart Fell.)
Episode 3 'Traitor' by Robert Holmes (Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot)
Avon and his crew are plunged into a civil war on HELOTRON. A handful of freedom fighters are struggling desperately to prevent their people from being forcibly ejected and "adapted". But there is a traitor in their midst.
(This story re-introduces Jacqueline Pearce as SERVALAN, the cruel and beautiful Security Chief.)
(Also Malcolm Stoddard, Christopher Neame and Edgar Wreford)
Episode 4 'Stardrive' by Jim Follett (Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot)
Avon becomes aware of an incredibly powerful new propellant that is being used by the forces of evil. This leads to encounters with Space Rats and a woman scientist, Dr. PLAXTON.
(Dr. PLAXTON is played by film star Barbara Shelley and there are some very strange vehicles.)
(IMPORTANT NOTE: Eps. 3 and 4 will be recorded in reverse order.)
Episode 5 'Headhunter' by Roger Parkes (Director: Mary Ridge)
A comic horror story. Things start to go very wrong on SCORPIO when the body of a dead scientist disappears. The mystery is only solved after Avon, Dayna, Tarrant, Vila and Soolin have been vengefully pursued by a headless man.
Episode 6 'Animals' by Allan Prior (Director: Mary Ridge)
Dayna flies off to meet her old teacher Professor JUSTIN whose experiments could help the cause of freedom. But these experiments turn out to be with 'Animals' - half man, half creature. The capture of Dayna by Servalan precipitates a grotesque series of events - which ends in a fight to the finish.
(with Peter Byrne, famous as Andy from 'DIXON', making his return to T.V. as Professor JUSTIN.)
After the Atomic Wars there emerged from the ensuing chaos a dictatorship so powerful that it enmeshed the majority of Earth populated worlds. As the Federation grew in power so the hard-won freedom of the people it ruled disappeared.
The President is the absolute ruler of the Federation. Surrounded by his personal guard and his political appointees to the High Council he is probably the most powerful man in the galaxy. The centre of his empire is Earth.
Each planet in the Federation is under the jurisdiction of a governor appointed by the Presidential High Council and therefore directly responsible to the President. Although some planets retain a semblance of liberty they soon discover that trying to exercise this liberty is considered to be a crime against the Federation and therefore punishable. Not all the governors are dictatorial - some do try to maintain a certain amount of autonomy - but usually without a great deal of success.
The vast majority of the population of the Federation lives in a drug induced world of docility. The suppressants are in the food, water and air supplies. Society is strictly structured from the elite Alpha grades to the menial Delta service grades. The higher the grade the more the privileges allowed. Pleasure planets and satellite cities exist for those privileged or wealthy enough to be able to enjoy them.
There are rebels in the most heavily suppressed society. Those who are not content with their drug soaked lives turn either to crime or to resistance. The big criminal organisations are allowed to continue their operations with the Federation officials taking their cut. Dissident movements are of necessity quite small but are of sufficient nuisance value that it is considered advisable to liquidate them.
Blake's followers, now led by Avon, have become the symbol of resistance and with their new ship SCORPIO carry on the heroic and dangerous fight for liberty.
AVON Native of EARTH
He almost pulled off the greatest computer swindle of all time - 500 million credits from the Federation Banking System. An electronics and computer genius, again unrecognised, he is unsentimental and trusts no-one but himself.
He escaped from the convict ship with Blake and remained in an uneasy alliance with him until Blake was lost. Avon is pragmatic with no time for idealism. He would unhesitantly shoot an enemy in the back but if the time came when it were necessary to kill a friend (for want of a better word) he would look them in the face while he did it. He is cynical, bitter, with a dry wit and a brilliant mind. He is probably now more dependent on the others than he or they realise. He does not particularly hate the Federation except on purely practical grounds that they are trying to kill him.
Little is known of his early background and he is unwilling to talk. He did love a girl called Anna Grant and they were both involved in something illegal as he was wanted by the Federation. Her death at the hands of interrogators has done nothing to endear the Federation to him.
VILA Native of EARTH
He grew up in the labor grades with a high and unrecognized IQ. A non-aggressive delinquent, he developed a natural talent for breaking locking and security systems to a point where it borders on genius. Unable to stop the urge to express this genius by stealing anything and everything the Federation condemned him to a life on the penal planet of Cygnus Alpha. He was rescued by Blake and has remained with Avon and the others partly out of loyalty and partly because there was no where else to go.
He is easily led, weak-willed and a quite rational coward.
DAYNA Native of EARTH
Although born on Earth, Dayna spent most of her life on the planet Sarran with her father, Hal Mellanby and her adopted sister Lauren. Her father, a weapons technologist, had become involved in supplying arms to a rebel group and, with his adopted daughter, was murdered by Servalan. So Dayna has a very good reason for staying with the crew. Sooner or later she is going to get her chance at revenge.
Dayna has all the ruthlessness of the very young. To her killing is a sport to be enjoyed. She has inherited her father's talent for weapons designs and is therefore invaluable. Luckily she also inherited his sense of humour.
TARRANT Native of EARTH
Trained as a Federation Space Captain, Del Tarrant deserted the service and became a mercenary until joining up with Blake's crew. Because of his training and previous life style he has a tendency towards giving orders and expecting them to be obeyed. This naturally leads to tension with Avon - but when, as so often happens, they face danger together Tarrant fights shoulder to shoulder with Avon - and enjoys it.
Tarrant is young, headstrong, brave, reckless and eager for excitement - ideal qualities in a freedom fighter (though not appreciated by Vila).
SOOLIN Native of EARTH
Parents emigrated to frontier world Darlon IV when Soolin was two years old.
The family farmed a Registered Homestead on DARLON IV until it was re-designated an OPEN PLANET on the discovery of vast mineral wealth.
Since OPEN PLANET designation suspends all normal law, the murder of Soolin's family by the enforcers of a mining consortium was not technically a crime. Soolin was eight years old.
When she was seventeen Soolin killed the enforcers who murdered her family. She then left Darlon IV and made her way to the base world of the mining consortium where she spent the next four years systematically killing the management board.
When the vendetta was complete she returned to Darlon IV and visited her parents' grave. Then she left the planet for good.
Since that time she has been moving constantly, living by her wits, her gun and her beauty - all of which are considerable.
Not unnaturally, she has a deep distrust of people which suppresses itself in a wry and cynical sense of humour. She is an uneasy friend and an implacable enemy.
SERVALAN Native of EARTH
Servalan was probably the most powerful person in the Federation after the President and certainly one of the most ruthless. She started her career as a cadet and through her own deviousness and making full use of anyone she met she worked her way up to Supreme Commander.
In the aftermath of the Civil War she was lost to sight but has now re-emerged under a new name as a Commissioner of the Security Forces.
A political animal, Servalan is ambitious and prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure she gets her own way. To her the SCORPIO crew are a group of terrorists to be hunted down and killed. But between her and Avon there is more than the relation of hunter and hunted - for each recognises in the other the same qualities: ruthlessness and the appeal of power.
This is the super-computer developed by Ensor, who had previously invented a component which is now a part of every Federation computer. It is this component which enables Orac to tap information from any source. But it is more than a gatherer of information. Invested with the rather tetchy personality of his creator, Orac is much more than just another machine.
This is the master computer of the spaceship SCORPIO. Controls all secondary computers such as weaponry and guidance systems and operates via a strange mix of technology. To satisfy his erstwhile master's malice he was designed with a cringing personality.
In the beginning there was Blake, Avon, Jenna, Vila, Cally, Gan the gentle giant and Zen the almost human computer. Seven in all.
Backed by spaceship LIBERATOR their audacious confrontations with the Federation brought fearful dangers and it was not long before Gan was killed giving his life to save his friends. Then in a catastrophe Blake and Jenna disappeared. But their numbers were made up when the renegade Tarrant joined the crew and an amazing underwater venture brought in Dayna.
Ultimately the destruction of the Liberator stilled the voice of Zen, Cally is murdered and the crew are stranded on icy TERMINAL with Orac their only hope.
But who is this cool blonde who joins them? And what's this new creepy talking computer? Their names are SOOLIN and SLAVE - and you can add it up for yourself - the followers in Blake's pioneering footsteps are: AVON, VILA, TARRANT, DAYNA, SOOLIN, SLAVE and ORAC. Blake's Seven!
Is Blake really dead or held captive in some secret stronghold? Rumours and whispers are sometimes heard in the outer stars, but the truth remains a mystery.
As you know one light year is 5,880,000,000,000 miles. The nearest star to our own Sol is Alpha Centauri which is 4.29 light years away (approximately 25,000,000,000,000 miles). Astronomically speaking that's just outside the back door of course. It is estimated that our galaxy, the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds, is contained in a theoretical sphere with the radius of about 200,000 light years and that within it are perhaps 150,000,000,000 stars. It is further estimated that in the part of the Universe which we can now observe with our best instruments there are at least 100,000,000,000 galaxies. The nearest large one is the Andromeda galaxy which is probably 750,000 light years away and the most distant probably several billion light years away. Current estimates suggest the Universe is 26,000,000,000 light years in diameter.... That's a lot of space.
A small not very specific unit of distance. Never used for a long journey in space but only for limited distances thus: SCORPIO usually goes into stationary orbit 1000 spacials above a planet's surface in order for our heroes to teleport down.
Because of SCORPIO's shuttle-and-lift-off capability it can land on most planetary surfaces as well.
Traveling at four times the speed of light it would take about 15 months to reach Alpha Centauri...
When they first entered Liberator our heroes had no idea what sort of speed she was capable of. They accordingly asked Zen to fly the ship at Standard speed. They have been using multiples of this ever since.
The unit of speed used by all other crafts. Time distort six average causing speed.
As the name suggests this is an energy barrier put up around battle craft to protect them from meteorites, plasma bolts, etc. SCORPIO, being originally a transport vehicle, does not have total capability in this area.
Fired by Federation Pursuit Ships these are huge balls of superheated glowing fusion reaction power - like small suns. Unprotected objects are instantly vaporised.
SCORPIO was originally designed as an inter-stellar cargo ship. Tarrant recognises it at once and describes it as: 'A Wanderer class planet-hopper. Mark II by the look of it. Obsolete but functional.' How very functional it is will be seen in later episodes!
Pressurised doors seal off the cargo areas from the flight deck when the ship is operational, and all-round surveillance is maintained by forward and rear observation screens. There is a locker containing side arms.
The CLIPGUNS are made of Argentium. They are recoil-less and can fire under water. Designed to fire a variety of projectiles they have a guide-sight mounted on top and their missives are laser-guided to target. The 'Clips' - or Magazines - are colour coded to indicate the projectile. Standard colour is black and with this 'Clip' is inserted the gun fires small but deadly plasma-bolts. "In fact," as Dayna says, "you have a weapon for every occasion: Laser, percussion shell, micro-grenade, stun, drug, they're all here!"
The Scorpio BRACELETS are made of Titanium and are also 2-way transmitters with internal aerials. They incorporate sensors which warn of the presence of poison gas or radiation.
The BRACELETS are worn all the time as the personal property of each member of the crew. 'Chips' are set in the rack with a 'Keyboard' so the co-ordinates of a landing site can be programmed into the chips and then inserted into the bracelet.
On Planet XENON. A huge elevator in a Silo brings SCORPIO to surface for blast-off. Down below, reached by a maze of passages, are two main areas: The OPS. ROOM where Scorpio's teleport technology is duplicated, and the CREW ROOM where all can eat, drink and relax - which is not often.