SERIES A: LOCATE AND DESTROY
Throughout the lifetime of the series, a number of Blake’s 7 scripts and storylines went unmade for all sorts of reasons. Some were shelved due to budgetary concerns while others simply fell out of favour once they had been fleshed out beyond the initial pitch. Some of these storylines exist today as completed scripts while others never got beyond the concept stage.
As Series A was entirely written by Terry Nation, the scripting process was relatively smooth. Although the script-editor Chris Boucher had to do a significant amount of script polishing and expanding, particularly on the later scripts in the season, very few stories were abandoned completely.
One script that did fall by the wayside early on was Locate and Destroy, which was originally going to be the fourth episode of the season and would have introduced Blake’s nemesis: Cral Travis. The agent who betrayed the rebels in Terry Nation’s pilot script, Cygnus Alpha, was also called Cral Travis; that character was ultimately renamed as Dev Tarrant and would make no further appearances in the series. In Locate and Destroy, Cral Travis is essentially a new character and is much closer to how he would eventually be depicted on screen – including an eye patch and mechanical arm.
In the script, Travis takes orders from a man called ‘Commander Shervalan’. This character was later changed from male to female and renamed as Servalan. The plot featured Travis being ordered by Shervalan to capture Blake by launching a massive attack against the Liberator. A secondary plotline featured Jenna being taken hostage by primitives on a planet devastated by a Federation biological weapon. All members of the original crew line-up were included in the script – ‘Blake’s Seven’ (Jenna Stannis, Vila Restal, Kerr Avon, Olag Gan, Arco Trent, Brell Klein and Tone Selman) with Blake and Zen bringing the crew complement to nine. Shortly after Locate and Destroy was written, the decision was made to reduce the number of regular characters in the series. Arco Trent, Brell Klein and Tone Selman were dropped and Blake and Zen were counted as part of the seven. A second female character, Cally, was also added to balance out the cast.
Locate and Destroy was eventually written off and replaced by Cally’s introductory episode, Time Squad, which was written much later on in the season. Elements of Locate and Destroy would later be used in Duel and Deliverance. As Chris Boucher recalled, “Terry didn’t waste anything – if a script was dropped as not being right, he would take it away and rework it, and make it work, and then you would get it back.”