SERIES D: MAN OF IRON
Over the lifetime of the series, a number of Blake's 7 scripts and storylines went unmade for a variety of reasons. Some were shelved due to budget concerns while others simply fell out of favour once they had been fleshed out beyond the initial pitch. Perhaps the most famous unmade adventure was Paul Darrow's Man of Iron. Fortunately Darrow's completed script is still in existence and it offers an interesting glimpse at what could have been.
In an interview with Starburst, conducted shortly before production started on Series D, Paul Darrow discussed the possibility of writing a script for Blake's 7.
"I wouldn't mind actually. the only trouble is that, if you write for yourself, everybody says, 'Oh dear me! He's just writing that so he looks much better!' So that's a dodgy thing. I'd probably have to write it for another character, so they wouldn't be able to say that. But then you defeat the object of the exercise because your character's the one you know about. If an actor does a particular character for any length of time, he gets to know that character better than anyone else. You also get to know how that character reacts with other characters and consequently you know more about the other characters than perhaps a lot of people."
Paul Darrow wrote Man of Iron after production had already started on Series D.
"We had all kinds of problems with the scripts in the last series. A lot of new writers were brought in and they didn't understand the format of the show or the characters and such like. So I took myself off to the seaside and wrote one myself - and they rejected it! They were very polite and said it was very good, but that it would be too expensive to actually make. Perhaps they were just saying this to save my feelings."
In an interview with DWB, Chris Boucher stated that the script was never intended for use.
"I didn't see it, it never came across my desk, I had nothing to do with it. It had nothing to do with the official scripting of Blake's 7"
Paul Darrow was disappointed that the script was never used.
"It was a shame because I had all kinds of exciting things happening in there. I showed it to Jacqueline Pearce who absolutely loved it because it gave Servalan the chance to torture Avon. They kept our characters apart in the last series which I thought was a shame so I made sure I brought them together because those scenes were always great fun to play. I also gave Michael Keating plenty to do otherwise he would never have forgiven me! In fact, Vila saved the day - which didn't happen often."
Avon runs across a sandy landscape on the planet Epsilon. He is being pursued by 'human/robots'. Armed with a pump-action shotgun, Avon shoots one of them, reducing it to a jumble of metal. There are two more of them following him. Avon falls into a pit and loses his teleport bracelet as he scrambles out. Scorpio is in orbit of the planet and an anxious Vila tries in vain to contact Avon. Slave is concerned about low fuel levels and advises a swift return to Xenon Base. Vila decides to contact Xenon Base for advice.
VILA: I've lost Avon.
TARRANT: (VO) Now tell me the bad news.
VILA: That's not funny.
TARRANT: It wasn't meant to be.
VILA: What should I do?
TARRANT: What do you want to do?
VILA: Stay here and wait for him.
TARRANT: What's your fuel situation?
VILA: Not good.
TARRANT: Get back here.
VILA: What about Avon?
TARRANT: What about him? If the positions were reversed he'd leave you for dead.
VILA: I'm not sure he would.
TARRANT: I'm sure! Get back here Vila. We need that spacecraft more than we need Avon.
Reluctantly Vila complies and sets a course for Xenon Base. On the planet, Avon is captured by two of the human/robots. In a communications chamber a middle-aged man in a wheelchair watches events on a monitor. This is Algor. He is furious that Avon has destroyed some of his robotic creations and vows to kill him. Servalan is also in the chamber, perched upon a chaise longue. She wants to find out more about Algor's greatest achievement, a totally indestructible robot called Gabor. Back at Xenon Base, Tarrant informs Dayna and Soolin that Avon has to remain on Epsilon.
Avon is brought before Algor and Servalan and is guarded by two robots. Algor decides to kill Avon, believing he is there to destroy Gabor. Avon is disgusted by Algor's research which has involved experimentation on humans.
AVON: You are living death! Even Servalan is shocked by your excesses. Your vile experiments on humans. No-one can expect the promise of life from you - you are only familiar with degradation and death. I will kill you if I can.
Algor orders that Avon be taken away for execution and then resumes his negotiations with Servalan. Back on Xenon Base, Dayna, Soolin and Tarrant are reluctant to return to Epsilon as they feel Avon is likely to have perished. Vila is determined to return and uses a shotgun to force the others to help him.
Algor watches on a monitor as Avon takes a beating from the robots in his cell. Concerned that Servalan could double-cross him, Algor programmes Gabor to 'explode with the force of a neutron bomb' if she goes back on her word. Returning his attention to the monitor, he sees Avon slumped in a chair. He has been very badly beaten and Servalan winces.
GABOR: Squeamish my dear? Never mind, in a little while I shall kill him. It will be no more than putting a sick animal out of its misery! That's what he is - a sick animal.
Gabor then shows Servalan a demonstration of Gabor's power. She is impressed as she watches Gabor destroy one of the other robots. Meanwhile, Scorpio enters orbit and Tarrant, Soolin and Vila teleport down. They find the remains of the robot destroyed by Avon. Dayna remains on Scorpio where Slave informs her that the fuel situation is now critical.
Servalan visits Avon in his cell in order to gloat.
SERVALAN: Once upon a time, I thought highly of you. Now - I don't. You are out of touch with the real universe. You are older - more weary - and expendable!
After Servalan leaves his cell, one of the robots moves to finish Avon off. He manages to overpower it and escapes from the cell using a hidden wire concealed in one of the studs on his belt. His escape sets off an alarm which alerts Servalan and Algor. The last two robots are despatched to kill Avon and they manage to corner him. Tarrant, Soolin and Vila arrive in the nick of time to destroy the robots. Avon instructs them to keep Gabor at bay so he can deal with Algor.
SOOLIN: I can't help but feel it's typical of Avon to leave us out in the open while he goes off in search of an easier target.
TARRANT: I have yet to meet the man - or machine-made man - that can kill me!
VILA: I think you're about to!
Gabor appears and all three open fire but it has no effect. They run away but Gabor follows them. Avon finds Algor alone; Servalan having left for her own ship. Algor fires at Avon using a machine gun built into his wheelchair. A TV monitor explodes, injuring Avon's hand and leaving him incapable of using his shotgun. He pursues Algor into the bathroom and drowns him in the bath. This makes Avon suddenly realise Gabor's vulnerability to water! He contacts Tarrant using Algor's audio system and tells him about the robot's weakness.
AVON: The robot will not function in water. Its components will be damaged beyond repair. Water, Tarrant, is your ally. Water, water...
Tarrant, Soolin and Vila swim out to sea. Gabor attempts to follow them but he sinks. The crew swim to shore where they are met by Avon. They watch as a massive explosion erupts where Gabor sank.
Soolin informs Avon that he owes his life to Vila. Before Avon can say anything he is teleported back to Scorpio. Tarrant and Soolin are also teleported away. Eventually Vila is teleported too only to reappear further along the beach. He finally teleports away for good and Scorpio leaves Orbit of Epsilon.