Paul Darrow at the Sidgwick Room

Newnham College, Cambridge: 30th October 1981

Tape 1 - Side 2: Transcribed by Alison Page

PaulShe had to shoot a guard at one point (this was in the episode in which Roy Kinnear the fat comedian appears) and she was standing there with a gun in her hand and the guard appears, and she shoots the guard. But because she had had so many accidents with the gun, the director told us our cues - it was a wonderful moment we were ever so tense - and he said the three of you are in a line: you, Roy, and the girl at the end. The guard appears. 'As she draws her gun, as one man', he said, 'you and Roy - step backwards.'[much laughter]

And that the end of the tape, Roy and I looked at each other and he said. 'Yeah, you learned and I died'. And things like that happened, quite amusingly. We have a blooper tape which we sometimes run. We have a party on the last night of the series, after the show. It's a BBC party - you know, bring your own bottle and a bridge roll. [laughter]

But they have this... 'blooper reel' they call it, and they show some of the mistakes that have happened. Like you fall over when you shouldn't. Things like when you're trying to pull your stomach in, you know for a close shot (laughter) and things like that...

So one girl, who was in the next episode, a girl called Linda Bellingham, who was very well endowed had a very tight fitting costume which burst! [laughter] Very interesting, I thought we should have played the scene like that, and she was willing, but the director didn't want to. So things like that...

Male Voice[unintelligible]

PaulOh. You think it's been comical anyway do you?

Male VoiceI think it's hilarious.

PaulYou didn't write me that letter did you. No?

Male Voicelike when ... asteroid... you just got up and hit him... hilarious.

PaulWell the thing is actually, I mean you can't, if you look at it, take it too seriously can you? It is slightly tongue in cheek obviously. You do these things, and you do them to the best of your ability. In order to make it reasonably convincing you have to believe in it.

My producer said to me, 'I love this episode because it's mad'. I said 'Excuse me, but I've just killed four people over there and I don't think that's very funny'. He said 'Oh, no, you are deadly serious, but the rest of it - hilarious.'

So somebody has to be serious and follow true life. But yes, some bits of it can be very funny - even when it's meant to be serious. But there are some quite... ah... did you think it was funny when I killed that woman?

Male VoiceYeah I did.

PaulWell there's a lady up there would like to talk to you. [laughter]

Female VoiceDo you find that you are playing out childhood fantasies of going round killing people?)

PaulYes of course. [laughter] Of course, it's cowboys and Indians, and I'm the top cowboy. Everybody drops. I mean, I shoot people and they fall over! They hate it - and they're big men, they're real men. They're stunt arrangers. One stunt man - he's a friend of mine - is a PT instructor with the paratroops. And this guy is all man, and I'm going 'bang' and he's falling over. Wonderful, wonderful, I love it. He said to me 'You love it?' He said 'Well I'll make you do a stunt now' [laughter] Yes - you next.

Female Voice[unintelligible - something about travelling to other countries]

PaulYes, the situation is developing in this country where most of us might want to get out. Yes I'd love to go abroad. I'd love to fly in Concorde but I haven't yet. I'll say that in case someone's Daddy works for them or something. You never know it can happen.

Female characters are not so well developed?

PaulUmm. No. Actually I don't think they are. I think my character is, because I have a great deal of control over it. The Vila character, he has a lot of control. But we've been around a long time, we know what we are doing. But the new characters... it's a bit unfair on them... for instance the new character, the Tarrant character. Curly. You know the one with the big teeth. [laughter]

It was a bit difficult for him when he came in. And the new girl, Dayna, it was difficult for her. They tend, writers, to take the easy way out. Something like: 'Oh, make Avon tough in this one.' and write that, and Vila says funny things, so we'll give him a few funnies and that's that, and nobody else really gets a look in. So they do suffer. I would agree with you.

Male Voice(something about, is there a relationship with Servalan?)

PaulWell she thinks there is. Ah... [laughter] Yes, she was meant to be... er... Originally the character that was meant to be the big baddy was this character called Travis, with a patch over one eye, and he was played by a very close friend of mine called Stephen Greif. And I was delighted when he got that part. I thought, this is going to be great. And at the end of the first series Stephen got a movie, and they wouldn't wait for 10 days for him to come back from this film. Well, it wasn't their fault, they had to shoot for our show and he was ten days over. But, they had to choose, so they got another Travis to replace him, and that was a big mistake. And it's very unfair to ask an actor to play somebody else's part really, and continue it. They should have let him play it a different way. So then they got a bit stuck. So then they didn't have a big baddy. So, Servalan, that's how she became the big baddy.

And... yes, there is an sort of attraction there because... Terry Nation, again, said he liked the idea of the villain being a woman, and quite sexy. And the 'hard man' as it were, coming up against her, to see what happened. So, he wrote this scene, and when the scene arrived there was no... er... love... in it or anything. No kissing or anything like that. But Jackie and I read the script and she said to me 'What shall we do with this scene?' because obviously we were kicking it around, and I said 'Well, maybe we could have a couple of ... clinches, all this sort of thing' and she said 'Grrreat!'[laughter]

And I said 'Well, then I could throw you on the floor' and she said 'Wonderful!' (She's into that sort of thing) 'As long as I get a shot of the tigress at bay'. And it sort of developed from there. We said to the director we'd like to do it, and he had kittens, but then he said 'OK fine, we'll do it' and it got a very good reaction from the public. So then we decided then that we'd develop that, and I suppose there is the respect that they have for each other. Though, I mean, she needs killing. I mean let's face it really. She's a nasty piece of work. But so is he...

Male Voice(something about could he kill her?)

PaulYes. Yes. Yes, I think he could. But I don't know that she could he... err...him. Is that grammatically correct? Mmm... She thought actually - and she came up with this idea - she said that as I was developing this character, and as I was becoming more and more shall we say 'unpleasant (as somebody said earlier on) why couldn't he change sides? And then she said they'd have Servalan and Avon up against the others. And they'd be going 'Orac, tell us...' and then they'd have to say 'Wait a minute, he programmed Orac!' So they'd be in all sorts of trouble. So... Eventually Jacqueline suggested that Avon should change sides and go for Blake. But then Blake left... so... that's what eventually happened.

Male Voice(something about, is Avon a leader?)

PaulNo, he doesn't regard himself as that. He regards himself... (well, this is my opinion anyway) he doesn't really want to be associated with them, but he's forced...(laughter) No... he doesn't. He actually said to them at the end of the last series 'If you follow me I'll kill you. I don't need you' and he doesn't.

Female VoiceYet you have Tarrant obeying orders from you.

PaulWell clearly he has to. [laughter]

Female VoiceTherefore you are a leader.

PaulYes, but... He's stuck with them, and so yes I suppose he leads them. But he will go wherever he wants to go and if they want to follow him then fine. And sometimes they want to stop him, and in fact it's very unfair... Because they blame him for everything that goes wrong and... it is... you're crying aren't you? [laughter]

And the Tarrant character actually turns round to Avon in one episode and blames him for the death of Cally. Which is absurd, because he actually said 'Do not follow me.' Tarrant said 'I'm going to follow him - come with me Cally'. So she followed him, and Cally was killed. So, whose fault is it that Cally's dead? Not Avon's! So... I pointed that out... Which upset curly a bit.

Female Voice(something about Avon's reaction to Cally's death)

PaulWell he did say to me 'Where's Cally' and I said 'She's dead' and he said 'Are you sorry?' and I said 'Yes.' Now... whether that was a reaction? The thing is that was a deliberate policy. They said 'What do we do? Do we write a scene where Avon sits down and says <puts on tragic voice> 'Oh, I loved her' and all that. Because he would kill everyone then wouldn't he? He'd say 'You are responsible,' bang, bang, bang. And they all had contracts so we couldn't do that. So they said the person who would be most affected by Cally's death would in fact be Avon, so they said 'How would he react?' He'd either react that way, or he would not react at all, and leave it to you out there to decide what his reaction would be. And so they decided to do that; whether it was right I don't know but that's what they decided.

Female Voice(Something about lack of reaction to Jenna's disappearance)

PaulNo, that's right. Nobody knows what happened to her. She is actually in this last episode again... she is mentioned... and the Blake character who comes back he says what has happened to her. And in fact nothing has happened to her. But she didn't do it, because she wanted to go to University - the girl who was playing the part. She wanted to study English at Bristol University.

(get the impression of a suggestive leer ('Bristol') here.. nervous female laughter)

Female VoiceDo you, you and the cast as a whole, find it difficult to accept the newcomers with each episode?

PaulMichael and I did, yes... Oh, I see what you mean: 'With each episode'... you don't mean the new regulars.

Female VoiceUmm... yes, I do.

PaulWell, yes. Michael and I did find it difficult to accept them because for a start the Avon character would never have permitted them to put their voiceprints on the computer. Because he's no fool is he? I said to the producer 'He never would do that, he's never allow that'. And the producer said 'Well, if he doesn't allow that then they can't be in the show, so you have to find a way round it.' So that again helped me to change the character into... he was 'not caring'... he just didn't care any more. So that was that.

[Aside to person leaving: What are you doing? Trying to get out? Won't they let you out? Oh - you want a life?]

Sorry... I was just fascinated by this... errr...

Is this a good way to talk about this? You throw in questions and I try to answer them? You're not all bored are you? I don't want to be dull or anything.

[Chorus of encouraging answers/noises during this speech]

Male Voicesomething about why he failed in the attempt to rob the bank

PaulHe was betrayed. He had robbed the bank with this girl called Anna Grant. He robbed it with her. She betrayed him. That's how he was caught, and that's why he killed her.

Male VoiceSomething about Star Trek

Paul(unintelligible) that it actually hadn't been made for so long... I mean they are actually quite old those shows aren't they? I quite enjoyed them. Some of those I've seen I like. Although they must giggle a lot. You said Blake's 7 can be funny. Well I find that quite funny sometimes. William Shatner looks as if he's just about to 'go'... you know... does funny Shatner voice - something like 'what do you do with these?' I think you need to see hand actions to understand [laughter]

Great fun to do. That's part of the fun. There's no point in doing it if you don't enjoy it.

Male Voice[unintelligible]

PaulYes. I think that's a fair comment. Yes, you have to kill people in this sort of situation I'm afraid (laughter) And he was more than willing to do it... Where are you going? [laughter]

Female VoiceI think she says she's going to the loo.

PaulAnd are you coming back?

Female VoiceYes.

PaulOh, good. [laughter] I'll look forward to it. We'll give you a round of applause when you come back.

Female VoiceOne thing that Star Trek did have was great moral American ideals going out to the rest of the world.

PaulThat's right.

Female VoiceWhereas you could say that Blake's 7 is all fairly immoral in that the characters go to certain extremes, kill people etc. How do you view your political situation?

PaulThat's my fault. That's absolutely my fault. Because the Blake character was going to be a terribly moral character, and when he left at the end of the second series, they said 'That leaves you, and we will now make you a moral character'. And I said 'If you make me a moral character I don't want to do it.' I said 'He isn't...' So they said 'Oh... All right... We won't' and they didn't. And so, yes, it's amoral.

Female VoiceDo you think that they lacked that morality that Cally was around to provide?

PaulYes, I agree. I think that she... Did you like her?

Female VoiceYes.

PaulI liked her very much. I thought she was lovely. And she was a very good actress and a nice girl, a very nice girl. And we had a lot of fun. She was a good moral point and she was nice to work with and the scenes you could write for her were interesting. It was sad that she left. She decided that she didn't want to do any more and I rang her up... and she said 'No, I really don't want to do it.' She has a small child, and she wanted to spend more time with him, so that's why she didn't want to do it. I'm sorry she went and I think that's what's missing now.

Female VoiceCouldn't Dayna be developed into that?

PaulBut she's too young. She's only 22. She's a child and Avon treats her as such. And Tarrant is sort of err... [laughter] He's the young sort of... 'Let's get in there Chief!' and you think 'Oh, god!' [laughter] He's the posthumous VC he is. [laughter] And Vila's not going to go anywhere. So yes, they are missing that moral thing and there isn't really anybody else who could do it. Which is a pity because I think it needs that sort of thing occasionally.

When the Blake character comes back at the end the morality returns. Yes. It's very interesting. I think... mmm... I can't talk about it, it's supposed to be secret. I've told you quite enough. But I think it's about ten times as good as any other episode ever written in this series. It's a marvellous episode. It's by Chris Boucher... beautifully written. Super things happen. Interesting. And I don't think you'll laugh at that one. I think it's a really good episode. Very strong drama. And if it wasn't called an episode of Blake's 7, it would be put out in another form. So the morality is also very strong in that.

Male Voice(something about changing the scheduling of B7)... would you like to do it twice a week?

PaulThey are bringing out Doctor Who in that format, twice weekly, now. I think it's Wednesdays and Fridays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays, or something.

I was talking to.. (I'm a terrible namedropper, though as I said to the Queen I can't bear them) [laughter] Peter Davidson who's the new Doctor Who and he said he would prefer himself to have the one-hour slot that we had. And he said that he's finding it might perhaps alienate (that's a good pun isn't it?) some of the audience to have it split like that. But they are trying it now, to see what the reaction might be. They are showing older versions of Doctor Who in that format in the hope that they'll get everybody into the habit.

But, no, I wouldn't like to do that because there's no continuity. I like a set episode and that's it. Of course there is a certain continuity of your character and for various themes. But if you haven't seen it before you could in fact switch on Blake's 7 and, if you are reasonably bright, pick it up.

Male VoiceHave you ever thought of dumping the rest of the crew, and just carrying on with just the Avon character on his own?

PaulFrequently, yes. [laughter] Avon has, I'm sure. Yes. And indeed I find now I miss... I miss the Cally character... I miss opposition... competition. There isn't any for him. I mean he's number one, and that's it. And it's really very nice when Servalan comes in because then there's some opposition.

And what we were hoping was that we would get a lot of good guest stars. And in fact later in the series we have Stratford Johns comes in, and Roy as I say, and John Savident plays... very interesting... lovely character actually he plays later on, with a little fellow called Larry Noble. They're like Laurel and Hardy in space, but very sinister as well. And that's a very clever episode... So, yes, he feels that way sometimes and I do too, simply to get some more weight in.

Female Voice(unintelligible)

PaulYou see I don't really think that they're unpleasant... yes... they just...

Female Voice(unintelligible)

PaulYes, as a matter of fact it's not Shakespeare, but I want to play... I'm trying to arrange... I'd love to do The Prisoner of Zenda. And I'd like to play Rudolf Rassendyl. Plays like that, where there's two parts for a start off, where there's two leads.

And I mentioned it to my producer and he said 'What a marvellous idea' he said 'You could play that villain, what's his name, Rupert of Hentzau.' And I said 'No, I'd prefer to play the other guy.' So maybe I'd like to play that... yes of course I would... and have all the girls swooning over me and all that sort of thing. At the moment they swoon over everybody else.

Female VoiceI don't think so somehow.

PaulWell, that one doesn't obviously. [?]

Male Voice(a question about the phrase 'Down and safe')

PaulNo, I think it's someone who wrote for us, and had only seen that episode in which they had the phrase 'Down and safe' and thought 'That's a good phrase, I'll put it in to my script.' And that's all.

Male VoiceIs it significant that only Blake said it?

PaulNo, no. I think it was an accident, in fact I'm sure it was. Nobody's getting bored now are they? Do say. That girl hasn't come back yet has she? Yes? Oh - you didn't get your round of applause.

Female VoiceDo you think the series could continue if Avon was killed?

PaulWell, we'll see but... well, I don't think it could continue. Not being immodest, because he's not. I don't think it could continue in quite the same way could it? But they could quite easily do it. They could kill off everybody and then have a spaceship floating by, and have seven people arrive and say <posh voice> 'Crikey, what's been going on heah' (laughter) Have somebody pick up a note that says 'We were once Blake's 7' and say 'Blake's 7? What a lovely idealistic fellow he was. Let's follow him' and it would be the new Blake's 7. You could do that. In theory. But then I suppose they'd have to have another Avon character. Call him 'Nova' or something.

But they were a bit worried about that actually. The head of series turned round to the producer and said 'I'm a bit worried about this name Avon. I don't think people will identify with that.' So they went through: 'The Avon lady', he said 'Avon tyres, there's the county of Avon, there's Avon note paper, and there's Avon in a soap, so people will identify with it all right.'

Female VoiceDo you like series 4 as much as the previous 3?

PaulI do, yes, some episodes more than others. What Vere, our producer, has tried to do is to balance. One week it's quite serious - although you might not think so - and the next week it becomes sort of 'comic strip'. So that the 'Space Rats' one that you referred to was a comic strip, and the one with the doctor who fell in love with Dayna. Which was ludicrous, but there you are, if you actually thought about that, if he taught her before the alien war, which made her about 12, but there you are. 12 years old... it's ridiculous.

But yes, I do, I see what they're trying to do with it, and obviously there are some episodes that I prefer to others. I thought when I first read them that the first six were tricky, and that they would improve radically after that, and rapidly, and indeed they do. Because we had a lot of new writers and that's interesting for actors, but it sometimes leads you off into directions you don't want to go in and you have to fight that. And so you have all sorts of problems.

But the short answer to your question is 'Yes - with reservations.'

Female VoiceOf all the last three series, which is your favourite episode?

PaulWell, that's very difficult to answer. I obviously like the ones which involve me [laughter]. I quite like the one where I kill my girlfriend - sorry - I like that one because that explains...uh... it's got a wonderful title: Rumours of Death and I like that. And I like all the cool lines. Because Chris Boucher and I are great film fans and we pinched lines from movies. There was one where I shot Travis' hand and Blake says 'great shot Avon' and I say 'Bad shot - I was aiming for his head' (laughter). And that's a pinch from The Magnificent Seven. And there are one or two others.

Now Rumours of Death, you know 'Rumours of my death have been somewhat exaggerated', is actually a quote from...?

Female VoiceMark Twain.

PaulVery good! [Laughter] Now, we had a lot of quotes. We had some very interesting ones. We put a quote in a later episode and we didn't know what it was, and it turns out to be Horace (just 'Horace', full stop) and now that's quite interesting. So we're getting quite intellectual later on (laughter).

The episode, the one I really liked... typical of the series, was the last episode of Series 2, when Blake was wounded and so-on, which was called Star One - I don't know if you remember that. That was quite nice. I had a nice line from that which I enjoyed, but I thought everyone featured very well in that. I had one line - I had this rather nice girl with me at the time - and I shot this fellow and he became a creature, and she said 'My God! What is it!' and I said 'I don't know but it would be difficult to love' (laughter). I thought that was a wonderful line. And then I have a few of those in this series, which I look forward to. But it's fun. And yes... the bit... I like that one overall.

Female VoiceWould you yourself like to write scripts, or direct?

PaulI did write one actually. Ah... They rejected it. [laughter] They were very polite. They said they thought it was very good, but it would be too expensive. I was getting fed up with being stuck in a studio all the time, so I wrote this by the seaside, and I had all sorts of lovely things happening there.

I showed it to Jackie who plays Servalan, and she said 'Ooh! It's wonderful!' (laughter) because she.. I was beaten up and covered in blood, and sort of lying there, and she came in and kissed me, and all that sort of thing. And she thought it was wonderful that she was covered in my blood. She was a bit masochistic like that.

Female VoiceHow much of yourselves do you put into the parts?

PaulIt depends how much we are paid [laughter] and the answer to that is not enough. No, no, seriously, how much of myself is in Avon? To be honest, very little. I make him what I would like to be. Perhaps there are... perhaps there are unconsciously... I'm quite tough really [laughter] in the sense that I'm quite hard when I know what I want, a bit stubborn. And if the director says 'I want you to do it this way' and I don't want to then I won't. So I'm a bit... 'Petulant' I suppose is the word I'm looking for. So maybe there are one or two things. But I'm not a killer or a psychopath. [laughter]

Ah... a drink.

Female VoiceWho decided that the character should never smile?

PaulI did. I decided. The director... err... the producer said to me in episode 10 of the series 'You don't smile very much do you?' And I said 'Well, apart from the fact that there isn't very much to smile about' (and if you'd seen my contract then you'd know what I meant) I said 'It's deliberate. I'm restricting him,' I said 'he's not a smiley person. I will restrict him to one smile per episode.' It took him - this is a producer at the BBC - it took him ten episodes to work that out? [laughter]

So when we got into the 3rd series [NB perhaps he means 4th?] Vere Lorrimer said to me 'I think you ought to smile more often, you've got such a nice smile.' And I said 'I don't think it's in character.' And he said 'You would smile now, but it would be more maniacal wouldn't it?' And he sort of triggered something there and I thought - yes I will smile more, so I do. And I actually laugh: things like 'This'll kill ya - Ha Ha Ha.' [big laughter]

So I brought that in. He's got quite a lot to smile about. Well, you've got to laugh haven't you? Or you'd burst into tears. So I, yes, I decided to. I restrict him to so many smiles per episode.

A young lady wrote to me actually, from a school. She said that 'My school friends and I have opened a book on how many smiles you will give per episode and can you give me some inside information.' [laughter] So I thought that they could make a fortune out of that couldn't they? And I could take a big cut. I smile about five times in one episode...

Female Voice(unintelligible)

Paul(unintelligible) Are you getting fed up? Get up and stretch your legs if you like. I'm having a wonderful time. I feel very surprised that you are all here. I only expected two or three to turn up. But I'm very pleased to see you all, and I do hope you are comfortable. I'm drinking (unintelligible)... but it's water. But fire away and when you get bored, do say so, and we'll go into something else.

Male Voice(something about the plot stolen from Dorian Grey)

PaulBut there's nothing wrong with that. He had this idea, Chris, that he wanted to write. He rather wished he had written Dorian Grey actually, and so he decided to get it in. Hmmm... and I said 'Oh, yes, that's all right'. I think Avon must have a picture of himself somewhere and it looks rather horrid.

Male Voice(something about people written out of the series)

PaulThe first major character to be written out was Gan, the big man. And that was because they weren't really writing for him. And I know him very well; he's a charming fellow and very, very intelligent. And what they wanted was a sort of Lenny from Of Mice and Men: 'Duhhh' that sort of character, sort of knock people's heads together and 'Buh Buh...' He didn't want to play it like that. He wanted to play him as an intellectual if you like... or at least reasonably intelligent, and to have some kind of motivation behind what he was doing.

And so they said 'OK, we'll write you a scene' and they wrote him a scene with (for some reason puts on American accent) 'My woman' you know: 'That's why I'm a killer'. Which excused the character. And they're all criminals remember, and it excused his criminality, which was a great pity, because then the character had nowhere to go. Because he became a moral character in an immoral situation and the only person who could be that was Blake because he was framed, whereas everyone else was guilty. And so the writers didn't write for him, and he became a little upset by that. And it was eventually decided...

And they often do this in series at the BBC, or anywhere else for that matter. If you kill off a major character half way through the second series, you tend to boost the ratings. Because they say <puts on funny voice> 'What's coming up next week? Is my favourite going to go?'

... so they thought they'd kill off a major character. And I know that first on the list was Vila [widespread cries of horror] I know! Which is extraordinary! And second was Cally, and third was Gan. And I don't know who was fourth... I didn't like to ask... [laughter]

But because of that situation with David being a bit unhappy, the producer then said to David, 'These are the alternatives, David. How would you feel if we were to kill you off?' And he said, 'Well, unless you are going to develop the character, I don't mind.' And so they decided to kill him. So he went, and it was a mutual arrangement, and he was quite happy because they didn't write... and I think he was disappointed because they didn't write for him, and I think it was a pity that they didn't, but there you are.

The Blake/Jenna thing was... Jenna wanted to go to University as I say, and so she... she also wanted to act in a proper way, and she thought she was just the dolly bird in the series - which is indeed what she was meant to be. She was meant to be Farrah Fawcett-Majors. And she didn't like that so she left. And Gareth thought that I had the better part and that one of us had to go really. And he got an offer of a job at the Royal Shakespeare Company, so he went.

So nobody was really... Oh, Stephen Greif, I told you about, the original Travis. They got rid of the second one, you see, they got rid of the second Travis because it didn't work. I don't think that was entirely the actor's fault, but they soon realized he didn't work so they elbowed him pretty quickly.

Umm... who else is gone? Oh, Cally left as I said, because she wanted to spend more time with her son... But generally people go because they don't want to be typecast.

Female VoiceWhat about Zen?

PaulZen? Well they thought the series... they weren't going to do anymore after the third series you see. That was it. That was going to be it. And so the script had already been written. How are we going to get rid of them al? Well, we'll blow up the ship. So they blew up the ship. And also the Liberator was falling apart. It looked 'quite' good... but people were beginning to notice it was falling over every time you touched it, and indeed it was. It cost quite a lot of money to build, but after three years it had got quite a lot of battering. So...

Can you hear me at the back? No? Oh why didn't you say? I would have... I would have lowered my voice... ummm... [laughter]

... they decided to get rid of the ship. And so once you get rid of the ship Zen has to go. That's that.

Female VoiceCan you tell us a bit more about how you see the relationship between Avon and Blake?

[long pause]

PaulAh, yes... Nobody's actually asked that before... and it's very interesting because Gareth's quite a bright chap and he asked me the very same question. And it's very difficult to describe. I suppose it's the only person... ah... how can I say it... umm... It's like David and Jonathon, I suppose isn't it? Or Saul and... err... There's something there, there's a respect there... This man... A love if you like, and this man is actually holding the moral line, if you like, through his head... I know that sounds a bit...sort of... err...

Female VoiceDo you think Avon recognized that?

PaulYes, he is drawn to him. The whole of the last series was looking for Blake, and in fact (as will be revealed later) the whole of this series is still looking for him. And it's sort of like the Holy Grail, or his death, or whatever. He's looking for something, and he's looking for Blake, and in fact he eventually finds him and... err... it's resolved... but, yes, I think he's the monkey on his back or whatever you'd like to call it. He's got to find him. It's like... well... I think I've explained it enough.

Female VoiceWill you ever change Slave?

PaulSlave? No, he doesn't change at all. They decided that he should be Uriah Heep and he stayed that way.

Male Voice(something about plans to release the series in the USA)

PaulI wish there were... Yes, there's a little pirated editions... (Can you hear? He's nodding and you're shaking your head. All right I'll raise my voice.) There are plans, yes, but it's a question of whether they're prepared to buy them. Time/Life have an option, and so far they haven't actually signed anything, but they could.

The thing is in the States they require a minimum of 39 episodes and they prefer... what is it? 60... 65? Which is a five-year span. You see they prefer... and we have in fact done 52. If they were to do another series I think they'd have a better chance of selling to the States. Yes.

Female VoiceStar Trek was cut after three years. Blake's 7 was nearly cut after two years. Do the networks have a campaign against Science Fiction?)

PaulThat may be true. I don't know. Yes. I think maybe they think it's a bit silly to be interested in that sort of thing. And in fact Terry Nation is a very clever man. He has managed to spot what is coming and he seized this idea before ever Star Wars came out, and then Star Wars came out and was very successful of course. And now it's moving towards 'Sword and Sorcery', so you get Excalibur is a very popular film at the moment and so on. And I believe the tendency now though is to come back, alright, to the science fiction environment if you like, but with very strong human beings that are identifiable in the modern context. Which is again why I have tried to adapt him so he is identifiable to... you... or funny depending on your point of view.

Male Voice(something about plans to make a film of the series)

PaulYes, but it's all talk I'm afraid. At the moment it's all talk. But Terry has the rights, and he's in America at the moment working for Columbia Pictures... so... But not as yet. Talk.

Female Voice(something about feelings for Servalan)

PaulNo. No. No. No he doesn't. No.

Female Voice(unintelligible) what was the point of that?

PaulTo try and persuade him that he was [much laughter]. But she's Hitler, you know. He doesn't believe her. No. He really believes she's a liar.

Male VoiceLong question, something about why he smiles when the Liberator is destroyed in Terminal

PaulNo. I'm often asked about that. It was intended to convey that for the first two series he had been saying to Blake, 'I want the ship, I want the Liberator'. Having got it, it then blows up in his face. Now what do you do? As I said earlier you either cry or you laugh. And so he went just... Oh Well... Huh... It was meant to be (it's a rude phrase) two fingers to everybody. That sort of smile actually, and obviously it worked.

Male Voice(something along the lines of, how come they never noticed the ship was disintegrating around them?)

PaulYes. Umm... I agree. But the thing is if you are obsessed with something, I don't know, maybe you wouldn't notice that it was falling apart. And also it was meant to be a moral point. People try, strive to achieve something, and then when they achieve it they find it is worthless. That too is intended to be conveyed in that smile.

It's not an intellectual exercise, Blake's 7, I don't think (laughter) Although my being here might indicate that perhaps it is.

Female VoiceDo you read any of the fan literature yourself?

PaulYes I do. A lot of it is sent to me, and I read quite a lot of it. A lot of it comes from Australia... [laughter]

Female VoiceI've heard a few things from Australians but they weren't very complementary.

PaulWeren't they?

Female VoiceThere was one published in the Horizon newsletter...

PaulOh, yes? What did that say? Was it beastly about me? Was it? Said I was awful did it? [laughter]

Female Voice(unintelligible)

PaulWell there are, I'm sure, people who don't like me [laughter] though I can't think of any offhand though.

Female Voice(unintelligible) perhaps there's a cultural (unintelligible)

PaulWell, of course, the secret is to play the characters in such a way that people have so many different ideas. And then it's interesting isn't it? And so... I can talk about me, because I'm the only one who knows what I'm doing. And I'm not sure I do. As you develop a character, or changes it, or... then hopefully it's... sparks interest... in some people and obviously it will provoke criticism in others. But when somebody writes to the BBC and says 'What a horrible man' - well at least it's provoked a reaction you know, which is better than indifference. And that's good, that's what I'm being paid to do. And I... yes... (Does that answer the question? Are you sure? You're the boss after all... This lady hasn't asked a question yet.)

Female Voice(something about the ratings)

PaulYes. Yes. It's like a Gallup poll. They take a cross-section of... actually they are quite good, reasonably accurate, they claim to be accurate to within, I think, a quarter of a million. They have people who have machines on their television sets. They also interview a group of people within a given area, a certain cross section of society. They then...


Tape 2 Side 1

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Last updated on 17th of July 1999.