Blakes Seven cult TV series from the 1970s

There were 4  series of thirteen 50-minute episodes each and first aired in the UK between January 1978 and December 1981 by BBC1.  It is set in the third century of the second calendar and probably 700 years in the future. Blake’s 7s concerns the adventures of political dissident Roj Blake, who commands a group of rebels against the forces of The Federation that rules Earth and many planets planets. The Federation uses mass surveillance and brainwashing  and drug pacifiers on its citizens. Blake was arrested on false charges, and deported to a penal colony.  On the journey there  he and fellow prisoners Jenna Stannis and Kerr Avon get control of a techno advanced alien craft, which its central computer called Zen informs is called The Liberator. Its speed and weapons are superior to Federation craft, and it also has a teleport system to transport people to the surface of planets. Blake and his crew start a campaign against the Federation, but are hounded by Space Commander Travis—a Federation soldier—and Servalan, the Supreme Commander.

The composition of the “seven” changes throughout the series. The initial group—Blake, Vila, Gan, Jenna, Avon and Cally—included Zen as the seventh. At the end of the first series, they capture a supercomputer called Orac. Gan is killed in the second series, and then Blake and Jenna disappear and are replaced by Dayna and Tarrant. At the start of the fourth series, Cally dies and is replaced by Soolin. After the destruction of Liberator,  Zen is replaced by a new computer, Slave on their new commandeered ship Scorpio.

Blake is an idealistic freedom fighter, but his associates are crooks, smugglers and killers. Avon is a techno genius who, while apparently motivated by self-preservation and wealth, acts to help others. When Blake is separated from his crew, Avon assumes command. Avon believes the Federation has been destroyed and becomes tired of killing, and seeks rest. By the middle of the third series, Avon realises that the Federation is growing again, faster than realised, and he once more takes up the fight.

The BBC had planned to conclude Blake’s 7 at the end of its third series, but a further series was commissioned unexpectedly. Some changes to the programme’s format were necessary, such as the introduction of a new spacecraft, Scorpio, and new characters, Soolin and Slave.  Blakes Seven was watched by around 10 million people in the UK and broadcast in 25 other countries.

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