A news story circulated yesterday which rather took me by surprise: Not the death of Mrs Thatcher (that WAS a shock... but also inevitable following her years of obvious ill health) but the return of BLAKE'S SEVEN in a new thirteen episode series.
Anyone with even a partial interest in the show will have been aware that there have been numerous any-day-now type announcements about the return of the show over the past decade or more. Indeed, for several years Paul (Avon) Darrow was attached to one of these revivals and I remember chatting to him about it many years ago and he told me an announcement was imminent. I must admit, it sounded like a PR line at the time and - sure enough - nothing happened. Darrow eventually parted company with the revival attempt, apparently (if my memory serves) citing the old favourite of "creative differences".
B-Sky-B were, in the wake of the success of (new) DOCTOR WHO, at one point looking at bringing back the show but that attempt also faltered, apparently at the script stage.
The US SyFy channel were also linked to the revival recently but - once again - nothing seems to have come of it.
There's also been a couple of different audio revivals, one which updated the original episodes as full cast dramas (I *think* these may have been based on the scripts for one of the TV revivals in a sort of "this is what we do if you give us the money" type way) and, more recently, some cast readings and WARSHIP, a full cast drama, from Big Finish.
Warship is, incidentally, well worth a listen as it's great to hear the old season two TV cast reunited.
Years earlier, the original cast previously gathered for a couple of BBC Radio dramas which - truth be told - weren't much cop.
Details are thin about what this new announcement actually means. It seems that the producers are offering the series for sale at an upcoming TV programme sales and distribution event (MPTV in Cannes). That means nothing has actually been shot yet, they're just trying to drum up some business to - presumably - free up the capital to actually bankroll the show. There's been no announcement of any casting yet (something I would think would be fairly crucial to pre-sales) and, more significant, no primary broadcaster has been announced (although SyFy still seems to be in the picture) which suggests this, if it happens at all, will be sold on a station-by-station basis around the world. Freemantle are behind the sale which does at least add some credibility to the project.
How do I feel about a revival? I always welcome them as I'm perfectly able to separate the new show (good or bad) from the original. The revivals track record is hardly stellar but...
It can be frustrating when the new producers completely miss the point and wreck the chances of the original producers reviving their own creation. I'm thinking particularly of ABC's two season take on 'V' which never seemed to know what it was doing and ultimately ended-up being less entertaining than the original series... for all its faults!
I'm also strangely excited about the prospects of THE TOMORROW PEOPLE pilot currently under consideration at the CW.
The announcement sent me back to the vaults and I unearthed this fascinating fanzine from 1988 (although this edition dates from October 1990): a collection of cast interviews published by HORIZON, the Blake's Seven Fan Club based in the UK.
I wasn't a member at the time (although I was later... they published some great newsletters) so I'm not sure whether this is a collection of material that had already run in the newsletter or a brand-new set of interviews. But - either way - it's a fascinating read.
It's a weighty 100+ page A5 'zine. I've just had a look at the club website and there's no obvious mention of any print merchandise (zines, old newsletters etc) for sale (or download) which is a real shame. So I'm assuming this is officially out-of-print.