TV - What If: Blake's 7

Taking a look at what should have been, could be or simply would make an interesting idea. There are so many possibilities... so what if Steve Taylor-Bryant remade Blake's 7...

There are times in a writer's life where he wishes he had kept his mouth shut. This is one of those times. "I know," I said, "I will reinvent Blake's 7 in an article. That will be easy!"

When asked for his thoughts, my good friend and Blake's 7 fan, Alwyn Ash replies, "For me the show was pure childhood escapism, a Robin Hood in outer space, undermining oppression at every turn".

Oh dear, my mate's favourite show. So no pressure then?

Running on BBC1 between 1978 and 1981, Blake's 7 was four series of 13 episodes of great British Science Fiction. Created by the father of the Daleks, Terry Nation, it was a kind of cowboy film meets Robin Hood meets Star Trek, a Dirty Dozen in space if you will.

Set in a time of interstellar travel, it focuses on a group of criminals and their campaign against the totalitarian Terran Federation. After titular character Roj Blake escapes his prison ship and takes over a vacant alien craft he renames the Liberator, he is joined by others and they start their journey to liberate the Federation-controlled planets and strike fear right into the heart of the dictatorship regime. Pursued relentlessly by Space Commander Travis and Servalan, the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation, they must evade capture and continue their self-appointed mission.

During the four series, characters came and went. Now I am not a Blake's 7 purist like some of you, but, seeing as I am a fan, I would like this opportunity to try and reinvent the show. However, if I concentrate on certain characters and not others, please remember I am not a purist.

Due to pitiful budgets, Blake's 7 had to rely on incredible writing and character-driven stories that took on real life issues such as cultural diversity, oppression, political and personal security, and was very well achieved considering the financial constraints.

Now What If... Blake's 7 came back?

With today's television budgets, the obvious special effects and sound etc., the show could be awesome, but you don't want that to detract from the character driven stories of the original so you will need a great executive producer or "Show runner" and a team of very qualified writers.

So how about Ronald D Moore to executive produce and write some of the episodes? He has the experience on Battlestar Galatica and Caprica, two shows that owe Blake's 7 a lot as they wouldn't be as popular without Blake paving the way. Add to the mix two British science fiction writers in Ben Aaronovitch and Neil Gaiman; Aaronovitch is an incredible storyteller especially with Classic Doctor Who and mini series Jupiter Moon, and is well versed in the traditional styles of classic British Sci-Fi; whilst in Gaiman you have a very good character driven science fiction writer of some acclaim - writing for Babylon 5, another show that has to thank Blake's 7, and the incredible Doctor Who episode The Doctor's Wife, you would get all the character trysts that would be needed to complement the classic feel and modern look.

But what about casting? I have picked a small handful of the original characters to re-cast and decided I would not consider any of the original actors for either main or cameo roles. So fans of Blake's 7, what about these fine people...?

Roj Blake, the idealistic freedom fighter to be played by Richard Armitage of Spooks and Robin Hood fame. A powerful actor who, as his role as Guy of Gisbourne showed, can certainly carry a series.

Jenna Stannis, the glamorous space smuggler and skilled pilot with a lot of affection for Blake to be played by Sophia Myles. A critically acclaimed actress and science fiction fan would be perfect in the role and I firmly believe the chemistry between her and Armitage would be as good as the chemistry she had with David Tennant in Doctor Who's The Girl In The Fireplace.

Telepathic, mind reading, guerrilla fighter Cally from planet Auron to be portrayed by Keeley Hawes. I have always enjoyed Keeley Hawes' performances and she has shown through the likes of Line of Duty, Spooks and Ashes to Ashes to be a superb team actress.

Vila Restal is a skilled thief with a very high IQ but a weakness for women and alcohol - Jason Done of Waterloo Road fame is my choice in this part.

Pursuing Space Commander Travis was disfigured by Blake and, with his false arm and eye patch, is desperate for retribution. My pick for this role is the incredibly talented Joseph Gilgun from This Is England and Misfits.

And now my favourite character and bit of recasting in my newly imagined run of Blake's 7: Ker Avon. The technical genius who tried to steal 500 million credits from the Federation Banking System is loyal to the crew, whilst not sure of Blake's methods, and ideally wants control of the Liberator for himself. So who could play this pivotal role, a character that pulls the entire cast together? Doctor Who himself! No not Peter Capaldi, but the very awesome and always brilliant Paul McGann.

So there we have it, my "What If... Blake's 7 came back" article. If you read more from me in the future, you will know that my esteemed friend has not killed me.

Image - BBC

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