|Country of Origin:||United Kingdom|
|External Links:||IMDB Epguides|
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Brief Show Synopsis
British television show created by Terry Nation, Blake's 7 takes place in a dystopic interplanetary empire of the future. Running for four seasons of thirteen episodes each between 1977 and 1981, the show was made with the BBC's usual production values for science-fiction shows at that time (low special-effects budgets, minimal sets, and most outdoor scenes filmed in one or two locations) but the series as a whole had sharp, political scripts. Blake's crew was canonically made "Blake's seven" by including the original ship's computer, Zen, in the count in an episode early in the first season: in second, third, and fourth seasons this "count the computers" was silently continued.
To some fans, the last episode of Blake’s 7 felt like the ultimate betrayal by the show’s creators and led many fans to write off the show as depressing and nihilistic. The fact that nearly every character perished in the finale certainly did not help contradict this opinion. Other fans felt that the ending was a mere speed-bump allowing them to pursue more creative ‘fix-it’ (or post gauda prime) stories. One fan writes: "What drove me into fandom was the last episode; it wasn't enough. I wanted to see more, discuss it, read about it." 
As a television show that chronicles the adventures of a ragtag band of fugitives vagrant on a space ship, Blake's Seven is a descendent of Robin Hood, and a forbearer of Farscape (Blake's Seven on Acid!) and Star Trek: Voyager (Blake's Seven on valium!). As of 2008, the show was slated to be re-made, a la Battlestar Galactica. However to date, this has not happened.
Without a remake on the horizon, Blake's 7 fandom, once one of the largest gen or slash communities around, has largely fallen silent. The last Blake's 7 zines were published in 2004 and the two main emailing lists, Lysator and Freedom City are pretty much inactive. There are a few Livejournal communities still in existence (see below). There have been only a handfull of songvids made since the show came out on DVD (region 2) a few years ago. There are still a couple of hundred zines, and old videotape songtapes, of course, but no new ones.
In order of appearance:
Seasons one and two
- Roj Blake, played by Gareth Thomas
- Vila Restal, played by Michael Keating
- Jenna Stannis, played by Sally Knyvette
- Kerr Avon, played by Paul Darrow
- Olag Gan, played by David Jackson
- Zen, voiced by Peter Tuddenham (Peter Tuddenham voiced all three computers, and in some episodes, there were scenes where Peter was both sides of a conversation between Orac and Zen or Slave)
- Cally, played by Jan Chappell
- Supreme Commander (later President) Servalan, played by Jacqueline Pearce
- Commander Travis, played by Stephen Greif (series 1) and Brian Croucher (series 2)
- Orac, voiced by Peter Tuddenham
In season three, Blake, Jenna, Gan, and Travis (B7 hewed to the British sexist/classist tradition that all women of whatever class and any working-class characters of any gender are referred to by their given name only) had all left the series one way or another. The two new characters in season three were:
- Dayna Mellanby, played by Josette Simon
- Del Tarrant, played by Steven Pacey
By the beginning of season four, Cally and Zen had left the series, and were replaced (in Zen's case, a virtual replacement only) by another two new characters:
- Soolin, played by Glynis Barber
- Slave, voiced by Peter Tuddenham
Cally's lack of surname had always been justified by her being "an alien": Soolin's lack of surname was never explained at all.
Blake's 7 fandom
One fan writes: "What I find compelling about B7: fallible heroes fighting against insurmountable odds; a cold, unreachable type as one of the leads; plots that go off at unpredictable angles; and most surprising for a continuing series, discernible change in the characters over time and most of it not for the better." 
The series began during the period after the original Star Trek and before the first Star Trek movie; hence its fandom participated in the normalization of many common fannish practices of today, for example the social history of slash and print zines. Its final episode, "Blake," caused such an uproar in the fandom that even today, thirty years on, fans are still working out Post Gauda Prime (PGP) stories of their own.
Several early Blake's 7 fan clubs sprang up in the UK during and immediately after the first season was broadcast (1977-1978), and one of them, Blake's 7 Appreciation Society  is still active thirty years later.
The series was not broadcast in the US until the late 1980s, and video recorders were neither cheap nor common in the UK till after that time, so videotapes could not be shared. Fans in the US received tapes made by pointing a portable videocamera at the screen of the TV while it was broadcasting an episode. These camera copies were poor quality to begin with, and became poorer quality as they were copied and passed on. A joke circulating among American B7 fans after the series was broadcast in the US was "My tapes were so bad, I didn't realise Travis was played by two actors!"
Like most pre-web fandoms, early B7 fanfic was sharply divided into slash, explicit het (referred to in contemporary zines as "adult"), and gen. Fanfic was being published in zines from 1977 onwards. An early post-1st season story, written not long after the first season ended and before the second season was broadcast, was simply titled The Epic as it was at the time (50,000 words) the longest B7 fan story ever published.
As with the original Doctor Who, B7 was broadcast "before the watershed" (before 8pm) and expected to be suitable for children, so episode scripts when televised could not include either explicit sex or swearing. Very early fanfic, written while the series was being broadcast, was in general expected by fan editors and publishers to correspond to BBC pre-watershed standards: though swearing might be permitted, even heterosexual relationships could not be explicitly sexual. Horizon began to produce "adult" fanzines, heterosexual relationships only (even an early reference to male/male rape was objected to) in the early 1980s, after the series was no longer being broadcast.
Relations between the gen fandom and slash fandom varied over time. Unlike other fandoms of the time, many B7 zines had both gen and slash stories (especially many by Ashton Press). But because actor cons were very common, gen fans often thought of the slash fans as an embarrassment. A quote from Paul Darrow, "Why is Gareth always raping me" was was frequently used to show how inappropriate the actors thought slash was.
Slash fanfic began to be published in 1983: an early zine that included same-sex as well as mixed-sex relationships was The Big Boy's Book of 1001 Things to Do in Zero Gravity with a Federation Hand Blaster, first published August 1983, which includes what may be the first B7 slash story, Licence, pairing Del Tarrant with Jarvik, a character who appears only in a third-season episode Harvest of Kairos.
However, the first known B7 all-slash fanzine was E-Man-Uelle. The first two issues were published in 1983 (issues 1 to 8 came out roughly twice a year between 1983 and 1987). While badly produced and badly typed, these zines were the first to publish some B7 fan writers who later became better known in other fanzines and other fandoms: Julien, Jane Carnall, Julie Kramer, Bryn Lantry and others. These zines were stories pairing Kerr Avon with either Roj Blake (Blake/Avon) or with Vila Restal (Avon/Vila), which remain the most popular slash pairings.
The Fandom Implodes
In the 1980s, when relations between many of the BNFs and many of the actors exploded, many fans -- starving for information in an era before the Internet -- blamed slash fans for the explosion, though in retrospect, slash had little or nothing to do with the explosion.
However, this did not stop the backlash against slash fans. As Langley describes: "In 1988-89, the Blake’s 7 fandom was seriously damaged when some of the actors in the show, who had become friends with a good number of the fans, were shown samples of slash stories. Taking offense to the portrayal of their characters as homosexual, and seeing this type of writing as a betrayal of their friendship with the fans, the actors sought to ban the slash authors they knew from fandom and to rid the fandom of slash. As with all of the other forms of "official" sanctions against slash, the furor eventually eased, and slash fiction continued to be written (Langley, June 17th, 1999)." 
Sandy Herrold says, "I was by no means a BNF at the time, but that isn't my memory. I thought the mess in 1988-89, was about the idea of some actors getting together with some BNFs and putting on for-profit cons. This led to misunderstandings between the never make a profit" ethos of some fans, and jealousy between fans who weren't as "connected" with the actors as other fans. I know that as things got ugly, slash was implicated, but I don't think it was a major issue in the mess."
Blake's 7 fandom was an early participant in online communities.
In the 1990s, when B7 fandom hit the Net, a lot of the online new fans were quite startled the first time they heard of slash. Slash fans on the various B7 lists and newsgroups grew tired of repeating the same arguments, and drew up a The Generic Slash Defense Form Letter still available on the net.
- Space City -- an adult B7 mailing (1995)
- Sue Clerc's Blake's 7 website - was first advertised in a 1996 issue of the Media Monitor and offered: "an encyclopedic list of Recurring Themes in Blake's 7 Fan Fiction, pictures, a Caption Contest that's updated monthly, and links to convention, fan fiction, fan club, and merchandise web sites as well as a mess of text files about Blake's 7."
Notable slash fanworks
- Melody Clark's novels, The Last, Best Hope (preslash) and sequel The Long Way Back
- Fire and Ice, an excellent anthology zine, ed. by Kathy Resch and Melody Clark, with many of the best names in B7 fandom: Bryn Lantry, Sylvia Knight, Pam Rose and others.
- Last Stand at the Edge of the World, a novel which is nominally gen, but featured Avon and Vila in a group marriage with Kerril, Vila's female love interest in the aired episode "City at the Edge of the World." Several adult and explicitly slash sequel stories were featured in anthology zines by the same publishers.
- Southern Lights Special, later Southern Comfort, which were the adult/slash anthology companions to the publishers' gen Southern Lights zines. Each issue was differentiated from their gen counterparts by the issue number plus either a .5 (adult gen and slash, including Blake/Avon and Avon/Vila) or a .75 (all Avon/Vila issues).
The vast majority of Blake's 7 fanvids were made in the 1980s and mid 1990s. Very few of these vids have survived conversion to the digital age.
- A memorably heartbreaking videotape fanvid contained scenes from the last episode to the song Send in the Clowns.
- True Believer by Viv Nichols of the Media Cannibals
- Crimson & Crystal (sung by Julia Ecklar), vid by Cybel Harper
- Comedy Tonight and Hotel California by MVD are extremely clever uses of images to create something entirely different from the show.
- Studs in Black Leather set to "Everywoman's Lament" by Jillian Courtenay - a clever filk song that pairs "Nights in White Satin" with fandom's fetish for men in black leather
- Tell It All - by ? - a Blake character study vid
- Hold On by Liz Jordan - Sandy Herrold wrote: "A good video; made even more by the line, "Don't you recall how you felt when you weren't alone," The clip is Avon in the third season, it has stuck in my mind ever since."
- Cold--Biography of a bastard in 4/4 time by DeeJay -- Sandy Herrold described it as "Every clip in order, to a song that was made for Avon, as if narrated by Vila"
- Some of the most innovative vids of the 80s were made by Gayle F and Tashery S, including Walking and Falling, and Continental Drift. Both can be found on their Shadowsongs DVD collection.
Most of Blake's 7 fandom had become quiescent by 2000, however, a few computer vids did appear online. In 2002 both Morgaine and Xanthe offered their vids here and here respectively (sites are offline, archived versions are offered where available).
List of Pairings/Abbreviations
- Blake/Avon (slash), referred to as "B/A"
- Avon/Vila (slash), referred to as "A/V"
- Avon/Tarrant (slash), referred to as "A/T"
- Avon/Cally (het), referred to as "A/C" or sometimes "C/A." One fan writes: "I never saw [the Avon/Cally pairing] on the show, until I started watching Tashery Shannon and Gayle F.'s B7 songtapes. They mostly do B/A and A/C songs, and some of the clips they use for A/C finally work for me, at least taken correctly out of context" and "Lots of C/A vids out there, Lots! But everyone must think Aurons are almost monogamous...she hardly ever gets another date--there must be 20 C/A's for every one C/T, and she never gets any body else. (B7 graffiti... Cally swings A/C--D/C.")
- Avon/Servalan (het), referred to as "A/S"
The list of other pairings in this ensemble show is long. Sandy Herrold once calculated that with "12 major characters in B7 (Blake, Avon, Jenna, Cally, Vila, Tarrent, Dayna, Soolin, Servalan, Travis (leaving out Gan, since I've never seen him 'paired' in a songvid)) you have 61 possible pairings. So far, in my B7 vid watching, I have seen 19 pairings, so there's lots of possibilities left.
I have seen: Blake/Avon, Blake/Jenna, Blake&Tarrant, Blake/Travis Avon/Blake. Avon/Jenna, Avon/Cally, Avon/Vila, Avon/Tarrant, Avon/Dayna, Avon/Soolin, Avon/Servalan, Jenna/Blake, Jenna/Avon Cally/Avon and a couple of Cally/Tarrant Vila/Avon, Vila/Tarrant, Vila/Dayna (1/4 of a single vid) Tarrant&Blake, Tarrant/Avon, Tarrant/Dayna, Tarrant/Soolin, Tarrent/Servalan Dayna/Avon, Dayna/Vila? Dayna/Tarrant Soolin/Avon, Soolin/Tarrant Servalan/Avon, Servalan/Tarrant, Servalan/Travis Travis/Blake, Travis/Servalan."
Small, fan-run conventions were arranged in the UK in the early 80s. The second of these (The Teal Vandor Convention) took place in Holborn, London and was run jointly by the two UK clubs - Liberator Popular Front and Horizon. A number of the cast and some production staff attended (unpaid!). British Blake's Seven fandom also had a significant presence at the 1979 World SF Convention in Brighton UK.
- In 1988 & 1990, Orac (convention), a "Alpha Grade Blake's 7" convention was held near San Francisco, California. Actors Paul Darrow (Avon) and Michael Keating (Vila) were among the invited guests. The convention slogan was "Organized Rebellions Ain't Cheap."
- 1983-1989, Scorpio: a series of Blake's 7 conventions, Oak Brook, IL
- 1989 Gambit (convention) was held in New Jersey
- In 1990 ORBIT was held in Newark, New Jersey
- 1995 - Event Horizon, Brisbane, Australia. Read a review here.
- Unknown Date: DSV (Blake's 7 convention)
- 1999 to present: Redemption (Convention)
Lists and Communities
Blake's 7 fandom went online in 1992. The first mailing list was called Lysator and was named after the "Lysator Academic Computer Society", one of the first Internet-connected sites in Sweden. It is still active and averages around around 5-10 messages a week.
In , Space City, a slash mailing list was spun off to allow discussion of slash and adult topics without controversy. Freedom City is now the current adult mailing list for Blake's 7 fans, however it may be inactive and emails to the moderators remain unanswered.
There are several Blake's 7 communities on livejournal, most have very low to no traffic as of 2010.
- The Blake's 7 Livejournal Community (news, info, discussion) (updates ca once a month)
- Blake's 7 Discussion Community (LJ comm) (average posts - 2x a year)
- B7 Fic (LJ comm, fanfic) (average posts - 5x a month)
- B7 Friday (link) (LJ comm, weekly ficlet challenge) (average posts 5x a month)
- B7 Recs (LJ comm) (average post once a month)
- B7 Icons (LJ comm, icons only) (average post once a month)
- Blake's 7 Fanart Community (LJ comm) (average post once a month)
- Hermit Library (gen, adult het, slash) (last updated 2008?)
- Hip Deep in Heroes, a successor to the Hermit Library
- Liberated: A Blake's 7 Adult Archive (slash, het, and "adult" gen) (last updated 2007)
- Oblique Publication's B7 zines, online in downloadable PDF format (last updated 2002)
- Tarrant Nostra, Tarrant-focused archive featuring specific authors (last update 2000?)
- Blake's 7 Stories, Dayna section of the Remember Us archive for characters of colour (last updated 2003)
- The Aquatar Files, a 1998 ezine (called a WWW zine on the site) (offline but a copy is archived here)
- Pink Asteroids - an archive for 'U' and 'PG' rated Blakes 7 slash (now offline, a copy is archived here)
- A Little Light (and Dark) Reading - archive for zines published by Helen Patrick (last updated 2011)
- Blake's 7 on fanfiction.net (276 stories, posted around four a month)
- Blake's 7 on Yuletide (9 stories, Blake's 7 now qualifies as a 'rare fandom')
- Blake's 7 on AO3 (>900 works, fairly active)
- Personal Fan Fiction archives can be found here.
These either started out as ezines, or were archived on the web after going out of print.
- Oblique Publication's B7 zines, online in downloadable PDF format
- The Aquatar Files, a 1998 ezine (called a WWW zine on the site)
- TTBA, winner of the 2002 Fan Q Award for Best Slash Zine.
- Blake's 7 Essays at Judith Proctor's site
- Fandom Primer on crack_van by executrix
- Blake/Avon pairing primer on ship_manifesto by executrix
- Horizon, the Blake's 7 Appreciation Society website
- Hermit.org The Largest Blake's 7 Site on the Web
- Blake's 7 Newbieguide on Livejournal
- The Paul Darrow Appreciation Society website
- Vilaworld (this website has no connection to the early B7 fanclub/fanzine Vilaworld)
- TarrantNostra for Steven Pacey fans
- E-Man-Uelle, the first B7 slash zine
- The Hereld Collection of Blake's 7 zines at the Univesity of Iowa
- from Comlink #40
- a reader's LoC in Comlink #40
- Horizon, the Blake's 7 Appreciation Society
- [needs source to support fandom activity- how many Blake's 7 mailing lists/forums/websites are active in 2010? See current activity stats under communities/archives]
- Blake's 7 fanfic online
- from K.S. Langley
- Archived link, Blake's 7, accessed 12.19.2010
- The Generic Slash Defense Form Letter
- Shown by the Skaro Hunting Society in the mid-1980s. Maker unknown. (busaikko)
- Sandy Herrold's Feb 1993 post to the Virgule-L mailing list reposted here with permission.
- Sandy Herrold's post "Pairings in B7 songvids (longish)" from the Virgule-L mailing list dated April 4, 1993, quoted with permission.
- Sandy Herrold's post "Pairings in B7 songvids (longish)" from the Virgule-L mailing list dated April 4, 1993, quoted with permission.