Monday, 24 June 2013

B3 Weapon

EPISODE: B3 Weapon
BROADCAST: 23/01/1979
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: George Spenton-Foster
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"A weapon once created cannot be abandoned, only contained"

Travis is training himself against clones of Blake. Blake decides to raid the Federation research facility but Orac discovers it's on high alert. They deduce that someone has absconded from it and stolen something valuable. Servalan dispatches Travis to investigate the disappearance of the weapons technician Cozer who has stolen something called IMIPAK. Servalan consults her strategist Carnell who has calculated that Cozer would do this as part of a plan for Servalan to get IMIPAK.Avon locates Cozer and the Liberator sets course to find him. Cozer and his assistant Rashel are attacked by a creature where he is hiding which he kills with the IMIPAK weapon. Blake arrives to negotiate for the weapon. Cozer explains IMIPAK is in two parts: a gun that marks the victim for death and an activator device which remotely kills them at a later time. Blake obtains the weapon but then reveals himself to be working for the Servalan and Travis. Servalan kills Cozer with his own invention then marks Travis for death. Blake, Avon & Gan arrive by teleport, but are marked for death with the IMPIAK gun by Travis. They hold Servalan at gunpoint but Servalan demonstrates the weapon on one of her guards and Blake has his team teleported to the Liberator. Travis intends to operate the remote device to kill Blake but they are held at gunpoint by the Blake clone and Cozer's assistant Rashel who marks them for death. The Liberator runs from the planet and Travis & Servalan are forced to flee. Returning home Servalan finds that strategist Carnell has also fled after the failure of his plan.

Tell me .... is Cozer a Federation weapons designer or Ming the Merciless? The former according to the story, the latter if you judge by his frankly insane costume! There again Carnell utters a remark about "Cozer cracking" that makes me think that he's not the most mentally stable person anyway..... which might explain why he fled with Rashel someone he appears to neither want or need. She seems merely to be there to give Blake's clone a reason to turn against the Federation. She spends the rest of the episodes alternately moaning about the conditions her class were under and behaving like Cozer is still enforcing them! She too has a mad costume though.... in fact all the guest characters do. Yes we expect it from Servalan so she gets a pass, and Blake's crew are at the liberty/mercy of the Liberator's wardrobe. But Carnell's cape? and want on Earth is Clonemaster Fen, another Federation scientist, wearing? The Clonemaster has an almost religious tone to her..... which reminds me somewhat of Dune. It's been a long while since I read the books but seeing Clones here and sandmining in Boucher's Doctor Who story Robots of Death does make me think he'd read them. It does seem such a waste developing Clones just for Travis to shoot them.... I wonder if they were the cast offs from the main project which somehow just weren't right? Having the possibility of Blake clones around may make certain later events easier to explain away should you need to.....

The idea behind IMIPAK is quite interesting: shoots them now and mark them for death, kill them later at the press of a button. Cozer explanation to Servalan outlines a number of novel uses for it including keeping people away from a specific location.

Servalan's office is back in this episode complete with the triangle/hexagonal walls but if you look closely you'll see the pattern has been shifted round 90 degrees with the long lines in the pattern now horizontal. It's also the return of Travis but from now on he's played by Brian Croucher, who had previously appeared in one of Chris Boucher's Doctor Who stories, Robots of Death, as Borg. I'm sorry Brian if you're reading this but I much prefer Stephen Greif in the Travis role.

This episode features a few other actors with Doctor Who experience. Coser is played by John Bennett who was in Invasion of the Dinosaurs as General Finch & Talons of Weng Chiang as Li H'sen Chang. Scott Fredericks, playing Carnell, was in Day of the Daleks as Boaz and Boucher's Image of the Fendahl as Maximilian Stael which was directed by George Spenton-Foster who is here helming his first Blake's 7 episode. He'll be back for three more episodes a season. Candace Glendenning, Rashel, has a history in horror films while Kathleen Byron, Clonemaster Fen, was in the acclaimed film Black Narcissus while Graham Simpson, the Federation Officer went on to be a Chairman of Watford Football Club!

The character of Carnell later appears in Chris Boucher's Doctor Who Novel Corpse Marker providing the only official cross over between both universes. Others were planned - such as Tom Baker's suggestion that he and Blake should walk past each other in a corridor in a scene used in both shows and Terry nation's desire to include the Daleks in Blake's 7.

We're filming at the Rutherford Labs for the exterior scenes in this episode. Embarrassingly road markings can be clearly seen on the floor as Blake, Avon and Gan teleport in!

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 500 The Armageddon Factor Part One, which was broadcast on 20/01/1979, and 4 days before episode 501 The Armageddon Factor Part Two, which was broadcast on 27/01/1979.

Weapon was released on Blake's 7 video tape 8 which also contains the previous episode Shadow on 7th May 1991 (18th Birthday present for me!) alongside tape 7 which features Orac & Redemption. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005.

Monday, 17 June 2013

B2 Shadow

EPISODE: B2 Shadow
BROADCAST: 16/01/1979
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Wright Miller
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"I own you dreamheads!"

The Liberator arrives at Space City, the satellite of sin, run by galactic gangsters the Terra Nostra which Blake intends to use against the Federation. They contact an acquaintance of Jenna's, Largo and Blake, Avon, Gan & Jenna teleport over leaving Vila and Cally behind. Vila has always wanted to visit space city and gets Orac to teleport him over. Largo takes Blake and his party prisoner and imprisons them with two others, Bek & Hanna, the relatives of a now deceased Shadow addict. Cally discovers Villa missing and that Orac has been hidden on the ship and has taken it over. Blake is forced to demand money from the Liberator but communicates a coded message to Cally who then warns the station she will fire unless they release Blake and her friends. Avon and Gan escape release Blake & Jenna and teleport back to the Liberator. Blake returns and fetches Bek & Hanna to help him find Vila. Largo communicates with the Terra Nostra chairman revealing he has an agent on the Liberator looking to claim the bounty on the crew and and ship. Blake has Zen analyse the Shadow drug to find out what it is made of, Moondiscs, and they set course for the planet Zonda where they are found. A recovering Vila finds an unconscious Cally lying beside Orac. Largo is murdered on the orders of his chairman. Blake, Avon & Jenna teleport down to the surface of the planet and find some Moondiscs. Vila reactivates Orac to operate the teleport for him. Orac takes control of Cally teleporting her to Zonda too. Blake's party start planting sensors round the Moondisc cultivation and harvesting area. Cally collapses on the surface and a Moondisc approaches her. Vila finds Orac's key electrified and connect disconnect it. Zen reports a power drain and the Liberator falls towards Zonda's atmosphere. Hanna tries to disconnect Orac and is electrocuted. Avon, Blake & Jenna are attacked by guards on Zonda. Wild Moondiscs converge on Cally and she talks telepathically with Orac realising he's controlled by something. Orac's key materialises in her hand and she wakes teleporting back to the ship. She explains that Orac had been possessed by an alien intelligence that was using the ship's power to cross into this dimension. It attacked Cally as she was a threat. Avon booby traps Orac to stop such a possession from occurring again. Avon reveals he took a Federation ID off a guard that attacked him who was from the Federation president's personal security force: The Shadow supply is controlled by the Federation who thus control the Terra Nostra. Cally has brought a Moondisc back with her and is uses it to practice telekinesis. Blake promises to take Bek back to Space City so he can fight the Terra Nostra and thus the Federation there and promises to return for him in 3 years. As Federation ships approach Bek fires the Liberators Neutron Blasters destroying the Federation's Moondisc cultivation unit.

OK..... < reaches for Scalpel >

There's two plot threads here:

1) Blake wishes to use the Terra Nostra, pedlars of the Shadow drug, against the Federation. when they don't co-operate he traces the source of the Shadow to destroy it and in the process discovers the Terra Nostra are controlled by the Federation. All good.

2) Orac is being influenced by an extra dimensional alien intelligence looking to cross over into our realm. It in turn uses? tries to get rid of? Cally who's telepathy poses a threat to it. She's teleported to the planet the Liberator is orbiting which just happens to contain a "plant" life form that boosts her telepathic powers enough to turn her into a "telekinetic" (quote marks intentional!) and teleports Orac's key to her disabling it and severing the connection to the alien intelligence.....

and the plant life form just happens to be the source of the Shadow drug as well????????? I'm sorry that's too big a coincidence! Yes I know this sort of fiction relies on coincidence, but it's usually to start the plot - our heroes are in the right place at the right time - not finish the episode.

Hmmmm. I think this may need a second watch. It is after all the first time I've seen it in a long long time.

Bear With.....

I seem to recall this episode being very popular with fans - I've got some old Horizon fanzines in the loft at Mum's which I'll check the next time I'm in London. I suppose it's because Cally actually gets to do something with her telepathy (for the first time since the Web) in it and because there's a drugs sub plot which automatically makes something adult and good in some people's eyes. But any episode that confuses the actual viewer so much that it needs a few minutes of expository dialogue at the end to make sense of it and hinges on a massive coincidence can't be a good thing.

In fact this episode bears one big similarity to The Web: in that episode, Cally's first full episode on the ship, she's possessed by an alien intelligence. In this episode, Orac's first one on the ship after his introductory storyline he too is possessed by an alien intelligence.

There is another big coincidence hanging in the background: that the dimension Orac uses to communicate with other Tarriel celled computers just happens to have something evil in it lurking behind the scenes wanting to get out. Oddly I have less problem with this probably because it's a science fiction trope that you don't go poking around in other dimensions because there will be something nasty waiting. Unfortunately first time Blake's 7 writer, series script editor Chris Boucher used both of these Lovecraftian ideas in his last Doctor Who script The Image of the Fendahl! This is the first of 4 episodes he writes this season: I'm intrigued to know how a script editor can end up writing 1/3 of the total output for the year of the show he's working on. Script Editors writing for their own show is a practice frowned upon by the BBC and the matter comes up frequently in Doctor Who's history. The Mausoleum Club's Time Screen magazine has an article on the development of the script that you can read.

This is the first episode to hint at Vila having a drink problem. It won't be the last!

Blake describes Cally's ability to teleport Orac's key to her hand as telekinesis. Now my understanding of telekinesis, supported by years of reading the X-Men, is that it's physically moving objects by the power of your mind and not moving them to one place to another. Searching for telekinesis on Wikipedia sends you to the Psychokinesis entry which confusingly says Telekinesis can be used interchangeably with Psychonkinisis and that Psychokinesis is an umbrella term for lots of phenomena including Telekinesis and Teleportation.

I can't remember seeing Derek Smith in anything else but he gives a top, almost Patrick McNee like performance as Largo. According to IMDB he was in the new Doctor Who story Human Nature as the Doorman and a Professionals episode The Ojuka Situation as a Doctor. Karl Howman, playing Bek, however is instantly recognisable to anyone of my generation as Jacko in Brush Strokes. Adrienne Burgess, as Hanna, was Veet in the Doctor Who story The Sunmakers and is married to the actor Martin Cochrane (General Chellak in Caves of Androzani). They recorded a Podcast with Toby Hadoke recently which you can download from here. Appearing very briefly as the Terra Nostra chairman is the great Vernon Dobtcheff. He's got a Doctor Who to his name Chief Scientist in The War Games (directed by Blake's 7 producer David Maloney) and a CV a mile long that takes in the Sweeney and Bond films....

A thought: If he's the Chairman of the Terra Nostra is he the president of the Federation?

This episode is a first for Jonathan Wright Miller who I know nothing about. He's got no wikipedia entry, no details on IMDB beyond his TV credits which have two huge holes in in the mid/late 80s an mid/late 90s to late 2000s. He'll be back in two episodes time for episode B4 Horizon.

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 499 The Power of Kroll Part Four, which was broadcast on 13/01/1979, and 4 days before episode 500 The Armageddon Factor Part One, which was broadcast on 20/01/1979.

Shadow was released on Blake's 7 video tape 8 which also contains the next episode Weapon on 7th May 1991 (18th Birthday present for me!) alongside tape 7 which features Orac & Redemption. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005.

Monday, 10 June 2013

B1 Redemption

EPISODE: B1 Redemption
BROADCAST: 09/01/1979
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"If it ever comes to a showdown, my money's on Blake. Well, half of it. I'll put the other half on Avon."

Blake is having the crew check the Liberator while he reviews Orac's prophecy. Avon tells him all the need to do is avoid the area of space shown in the visual. Liberator is attacked by two ships travelling at incredible speeds. Liberator's weapon systems and force wall refuse to operate. The Liberator's drive operates at maximum and they are unable to bring the ship back under their control. Avon believes the ship has been taken over and it is rejecting them. Black clad figures teleport onto the ship and start attacking the crew. The energy banks fail and the ship slows. Blake, Avon & Jenna are captured on the flight deck and the invaders commence a docking sequence arriving at a huge space station. The crew are taken onto the station and placed in detention while Blake is taken away for interrogation by the system. His captors explain that the system is the supreme power on spaceworld and that they serve it. They interogate Blake as to how he found the Liberator but circuitry disturbance caused by an outside influence cause them to stop. Looking out of the exterior window of their cell Avon realises they are in the location where Orac predicted they would be destroyed. Blake and his crew are taken away to be killed. Blake escapes and is sheltered by a rebeling slave worker. Vila escapes from his cell shared with Gan & Cally and releases Avon & Jenna. The five of them make for the Liberator. They are briefly recaptured but saved by Blake and his slave friend. The slave remains behind to cover their escape and is killed. The Liberator, now free from external control thanks to Orac, leaves Spaceworld. Spaceworld attempt to put a boarding party on by teleport but Avon & Cally teleport them back to Spaceworld. The Liberator is pursued by an identical Deep Space Vehicle. The space vehicle explodes in front of them, it's missiles having been forced to detonate on the ship by Orac. Blake has Zen set a course for the Earth sector.

Blake's 7 starts it's second season by showing where the Liberator comes from solving a mystery that's been there since the second episode of the series. Blake's interrogation however betrays that Spaceworld's residents the Altas, have no idea what had happened to their ship: Blake reveals to them where it was found and was believed to have been in a battle. That begs some questions: who was the battle with (a possible answer is revealed in the closing episode of the season), were there any more Spaceworld Deep Space vehicles involved (The London monitors a battle between two fleets) and what happened to the crew of DSV2, the name the Altas refer to the Liberator by?

The model work for this episode is a big step up from the first season with the Liberator like pursuit ships - a red sphere mounted on one of the Liberator's 3 Pylons - and the huge Spaceworld. Spaceworld's interiors look fab thanks to a lot of them being filmed on Location in the large interior spaces at Oldbury-on-Severn Power Station. Unfortunately there's a massive tramline scratch on the film for the very first location shot seen which is very annoying!.

Last episode I asked how does Orac, which relies on the Earth technology of the Tariel Cell to work, affect the alien systems of the Liberator? The question stands again as he infiltrates the Spaceworld systems and those of the Deep Space Vehicle it dispatches to confront the Liberator. After being voiced by Ensor actor Derek Farr in his first appearance Orac's voice is now provided by Peter Tuddenham who also currently supplies the voice of Zen.

The power coil attacking Blake and Avon does bear some resemblance to the city's tentacles in Terry Nation's Doctor Who story Death to the Daleks. Terry ends his script with this episode with Blake setting a course to Earth..... but he doesn't actually get there until three episodes time when Terry Nation writes his next Blake's 7 script because this episode marks the end of Nation's mammoth 14 consecutive episodes scripting the show. He writes just 5 more episodes after this point. Yes an identical sister ship for the Liberator is a a bit of a cop out on his part for dealing with Orac's prophecy but it works I suppose. When I was younger I actually had 2 different Liberator toys: one was white as per the series but the other was a silvery blue with yellow pylon tips and dome mount.

There's only three named guest roles in this serial but they all have Doctor Who connections: Sheila Ruskin plays Alta One: she'll later be in The Keeper of Traken as Consul Kassia. Harriet Philpin is Alta Two and she's already been in the Terry Nation/David Maloney Genesis of the Daleks as the Thal Bettan. If you've not seen her in the most repeated Doctor Who story then you might recognise her as the wife of the Secret Lemonade Drinker in the R. White's Lemonade advert. Welsh actor Roy Evans, playing the ill fated unnamed Slave was in The Daleks' Master Plan as delegate Trantis (one of the ones we know which is which since Evans is identifiable) The Green Death as Bert & The Monster of Peladon as a miner.

You are directed to this YouTube video for your viewing pleasure.

When I went to check the Doctor Who episode nearest this episode I noticed that the broadcast date for Redemption was a Tuesday. I'd always believed that the series only ever first aired on a Monday! This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 498 The Power of Kroll Part Three, which was broadcast on 06/01/1979, and 4 days before episode 499 The Power of Kroll Part Four, which was broadcast on 13/01/1979.

Redemption forms the final part of the third Blake's 7 compilation, Orac, released in the mid 80s (and the last one in the UK) alongside the preceding episodes Deliverance and Orac. It was the only season 2 episode to be released on one of these compilations. The Orac tape was reissued for £10 on the 5th March 1990. It then appeared in the third batch of episodic Blake's 7 video released in the early 90s. Paired with Orac on Tape 7 it was released on 7th May 1991 (18th Birthday present for me!) with tape 8 containing Shadow & Weapon. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005, 10 months after the release of Season 1. No season 2 episode has ever been repeated by the BBC though I'm pretty sure they've all had a showing on UK Gold!

Monday, 3 June 2013

A13 Orac

BROADCAST: 27/03/1978
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 1

"Unless, of course it's a magnificent swindle, but I suppose that's too much to hope for"

Blake reviews the evidence of the Starcruiser's crash and discovers Ensor's ship was sabotaged by an explosive which was planted aboard. Cally discovers everyone who was on planet has had heavy dose of radiation and are ill but the Liberator doesn't have the decontaminant drugs they need. They are dependant on Ensor having them on Aristo and must complete his son's mission. Ensor is alerted to the arrival of a Federation vessel on Aristo containing two passengers Travis & Servalan stand on the sea shore trying to find the entrance to Ensor's underground lab. As the Liberator approaches Aristo Zen is taken over by another computer system. When it finds out that Blake has the power cells it gives him permission to teleport down and sets the co-ordinates for them and an ailing Avon teleports Blake & Cally down. Once on the surface they encounter a force shield/. Servalan and Travis are attacked by creatures in the tunnels they are using to enter Ensor's base. A security drone gets Blake & Cally to abandon their weapons and then guides them into the entrance for Ensor's lab. They meet Ensor and tell him how they encountered his son. He gives them the radiation drugs they need. Blake & Cally offer to bring him back to the Liberator to perform the operation to install the new power cells in his artificial heart. He shows them Orac a computer system he has developed that can access any other computer and they bring Orac with them. They are attacked by Travis & Servalan and are forced to flee via an alternate route. Servalan and Orac attempt to cut them off on the surface. Avon summons Vila to the Teleport room in his surface clothes and they teleport to Aristo to find Blake & Cally. Ensor stops to rest in the tunnels and dies. Blake & Cally reach the surface and are held at gunpoint by Servalan & Travis but saved by the arrival of Avon who destroys Travis' gun hand. They teleport back to the Liberator where they activate Orac who demonstrates his powers by predicting the Liberator's destruction.

There's lots and lots to like here. The events of both plot threads from last episode have repercussions here: I think Blake would have gone to Aristo anyway but the crew's illness now compels him to, though I suppose they could have got the anti radiation drugs from elsewhere albeit at the cost of Ensor's life. We get a flashback and recap to the previous episode presented Captain's log style here - that was the main slice to this episode when it got edited down for the compilation. Cally in back in the green hooded top for her surface gear having decided against using the leopard print again but Avon's continuing to use the silver jacket debuted last episode. Servalan gets out of the office again and finally gets to go on location albeit only to Springwell Lock Quarry, last seen in The Way Back as Earth, this time providing the Aristo surface. She's obviously very keen to get her hands on Orac!

Ah Orac. You see him in the background of scenes and hear him, on this one occasion voiced by Derek Farr the actor who plays Ensor, before you know that is Orac. This element of the plot was spoiled for me having seen later episodes because I knew what Orac was. Watching the series in the early 80s as an 8 year old I'd loved Orac and was keen to see him again so when the compilation videos were released at a budget price point the Orac tape was a day of release purchase alongside The Beginning. Much of what I saw was unfamiliar. The settings, most of the cast. So to see another reminder of what I remembered from my childhood was great. The idea behind him is he has some sort of secret back door wireless internet into every computer that uses the Tariel Cell that Ensor designed as a young man enabling him to harness their power and knowledge, hence his name: Orac, an abbreviated form of Oracle.

Quite how Orac's function allows him to predict the Liberator's destruction I don't know..... But it gives the end of the first series a fabulous cliffhanger and indeed there's even an element of doubt as to whether the final images are Orac's vision like prophecy or it's fulfilment happening then and there. It sets the bar high for the series end of season cliffhangers and fortunately the series then takes it as incentive to up it's game each year leading eventually to one of the most fabulous moments in television ever.

Another thought: If Orac relies on the Tariel cell to work how is he able to take control of Zen's computer systems? Are whatever civilisation that built Zen and the Liberator using Ensor's work?

Wayhay more raiding of the Terry Nation back catalogue with radiation sickness & anti radiation drugs as seen in The Daleks, and then again a year and a bit after this story in Destiny of the Daleks. We also get the scientist hiding in an Underground Base which I suppose is similar to Dortmun in Dalek Invasion of Earth, Davros in Genesis of the Daleks and Stygron in The Android Invasion.

Sadly this is the last time we see Stephen Greif as Travis. I'm not sure why he didn't return, but Wikipedia mentions he'd injured himself playing squash during the filming of the first series. His CV is huge but doesn't really have the huge starring role you'd expect of him following his performance as Travis during the first season. This makes it hard for anyone to step into his shoes and I can't in all honesty say that I think the recasting of the roll was successful.

I'm pretty sure this is the last time we see animated space sequences in Blake's 7. Although very well done, better than some of the model work in the first season, they do push a very large button for me labelled Captain Zep – Space Detective! It's also goodbye to the hooded tops the crew have been wearing for their visits to planets, although Avon's silver coat does make a surprise return a year from now!

Most of the casting information I have for Blake's 7 was researched when I was doing Doctor Who actors who's been in Blake's 7 for my Doctor Who blog. But I'd only checked wikipedia entries for the Blake's 7 cast so this time round I'm also looking at IMDB which revealed that James Muir, one of the two Phibians, has an extensive list of credits to his name. This is the only episode of Blake's 7 he's *credited* for but he's also in (uncredited) Seek-Locate-Destroy as a Federation Trooper, Pressure Point as a Rebel, Dawn of the Gods as Monster, Rescue as a Link, Traitor as a Helot, Assassin as the Pirate Guard and Blake as the Federation Trooper. That's 8 episodes! (not as many as Aitch's ten!) Then look at his Doctor Who credits: up till this point he's been in The Time Monster: Episode One as a Soldier, Invasion of the Dinosaurs: Part One as a UNIT Soldier, Genesis of the Daleks: Part Two as a & Three as a Muto, Terror of the Zygons: Part 1 as a Soldier, The Masque of Mandragora: Part Three as a Brother, The Sun Makers: Part One as a Worker and The Sun Makers: Part Two as a Technician. He'll later appear in Doctor Who in The Pirate Planet: Part One & Two as a Technician, The Stones of Blood: Part One as a Druid, City of Death: Part One as a Louvre Detective, Nightmare of Eden: Part One as a Mandrel, The Leisure Hive: Part One as a Foamasi, Meglos: Part One as a Gaztak, Warriors' Gate: Part One as a Tharil and Black Orchid: Part Two as a Police Driver plus would have been in Shada as a Krarg alongside Aitch. He was in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy episode 4 as the Vl'Hurg Leader, Moonbase 3: Castor and Pollux as a Technician. He's got Z Cars, Softly Softly: Task Force, Secret Army The Goodies and Rentaghost on his CV! That's some career as a background artist!

So Blake's 7 season 1: Impressive start and although later episodes don't quite live up to the promise it's generally solid stuff with a sequential story being told throughout and earlier episodes influencing later ones. Best episodes: Way Back and Spacefall obviously. After that? Project Avalon, Deliverance & Orac.

This episode appears in the second Blake's 7 book, Project Avalon, along with Seek Locate Destroy, Duel, Project Avalon & Deliverance. It gives it's name to the third and final compilation tape released in the UK in the mid 80s where it appears with the previous episode Deliverance and the following one Redemption, the first in Blake's 7 2nd series. This tape was re-released at a more affordable price of £10 on the 5th March 1990. It then appeared in the third batch of episodic Blake's 7 video released in the early 90s. Paired with Redemption on Tape 7 it was released on 7th May 1991 (18th Birthday present for me!) with tape 8 containing Shadow & Weapon. Orac was part of a DVD release of the whole of Blake's 7 season 1 on 1st March 2004. Orac was repeated on 27/12/78 as part of a compilation with the previous episode Deliverance in the lead up to the start of the second season which resolves Orac's explosive cliffhanger. The episodic version was repeated on 20/05/2000 as part of a repeat of all of series 1.