Blake’s 7 has just turned 40 and Big Finish are celebrating with an audio anniversary special, in the form of, ‘The Way Ahead’!
What we have are two, individual, stories which are set during the first and third series. Most of the original cast have returned, with all but Glynis Barber, in their original roles. Since Big Finish do not have the rights to the fourth series Barber is not able to reprise her role of Soolin but has been recast as Magda a character from the books written by Paul Darrow, Avon himself. I highly recommend checking out issue 107 of ‘Vortex’, the free Big Finish magazine. They have a feature on ‘The Way Ahead’ and a bit more information on Magda, if you aren’t already familiar. Either way, Vortex Magazine is always a worthwhile read.
Mark Wright has written a couple of fantastic scripts which capture and expand upon these terrific characters which are lovingly played by the cast. Filled with lovely locations and moments sound designer Simon Power realises some spectacular moments. Director John Ainsworth clearly understands what fans want and allows this to be a fun event.
The first story from ‘The Way Ahead’ is titled ‘Project Aquitar’ and is set in the first series. Though, sadly, the character of Blake can’t be a part of this since actor Gareth Thomas passed away in 2016, they did a great job of creating his presence and keeping him close but at a distance. We’re looking back in time being retold a story that we haven’t seen on screen but are aware of. Travis is the enemy at hand, but the beauty of these characters are that there are levels of grey throughout and our heroes and villains, as we want and expect. It’s fun to see our ‘heroes’ find there feet especially Avon who is somehow extra reluctant to be a leader and a hero.
The second story manages to somehow be even more exciting despite less of a pressence from Blake. Set in the third series we’re facing Servalan this time and Jacqueline Pearce is just deliciously evil here. As with ‘Project Aquitar’, ‘Dissent’ really teases fans with plenty of familiarity. The conclusion is incredibly rewarding and is a wonderful way to celebrate and surmise 40 years of this iconic program. If you’ve never experienced any Blake’s 7 before I dare say you would still find this conclusion rewarding.
As mentioned above, the cast and crew are clearly having fun and love what they’re working on. ‘The Way Ahead’, even more than the excellent, Crossfire series, is really meant for fans looking to hop into some comfortable stories to relieve their past. Crossfire looks to fill in blanks and tell new stories, in new ways, and this does that too, but in a more familiar way. ‘The Way Ahead’ is meant for long time fans and is not the best place to start.
If you’ve enjoyed Blake’s 7 in any form over the last 40 years, especially if you’re enjoying what Big Finish have been doing, this is going to be a very easy purchase. The majority of the cast are here and the stories are well executed and contribute positively to an already stellar growing back story. With the behind the scenes interviews and ‘making of’ this is a steal at £12.99 for the download!
If you’re new to Blake’s 7, or just missing a few titles, Big Finish are also celebrating by offering 40% off individual Blake’s 7 releases. Now is a great time to take advantage of this limited time deal.
A brand new two-hour drama celebrating the 40th anniversary of Terry Nation‘s classic Blake’s 7 series
The Way Ahead – by Mark Wright
Part 1: Project Aquitar
Part 2: Dissent
Roj Blake. Kerr Avon. Names that sent shockwaves through the galaxy, shattering the foundations of the Terran Federation and giving hope to the oppressed. But what is their legacy? Crusading heroes or dangerous enemies of the state?
In the early days of Blake’s rebellion, the Liberator comes to Malanar Delta to aid resistance leader Avalon, but the crew find Space Commander Travis and his Federation forces waiting. An abandoned Federation research project could give Travis the key to finally bringing Blake to justice.
Years later, in the aftermath of the Galactic War, Avon and the Liberator crew fight to survive as new battle lines are drawn and alliances forged by President Servalan. Will survival be enough when a symbol of hope is turned into a devastating engine of war?
Written By: Mark Wright
Directed By: John Ainsworth
Paul Darrow (Kerr Avon), Michael Keating (Vila Restal), Jan Chappell (Cally), Steven Pacey (Del Tarrant), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Yasmin Bannerman(Dayna Mellanby), Alistair Lock (Zen / Orac), Sally Knyvette (Jenna Stannis), Stephen Greif (Travis), Olivia Poulet (Avalon), Kate Brown (Cassandra), Glynis Barber (Magda), Sam Woodward (Sheltak / Freighter Captain), Catherine Bailey(Mutoid / Captain), Fanos Xenofós (Interceptor Commander / Trooper). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer John Ainsworth
Script Editor John Ainsworth
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs