Blake-a-Thon and Script Reading Marathon

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Blake-a-Thon and Script Reading Marathon were two combined 1989 fan activities.

A full report of both of them was written by Roberta Roe and published in Horizon Newsletter #22.

The "Blake-a-Thon" was a whirlwind tour by bus, rail, and car of five Blake's 7 filming places. It took place on March 24th, 1989. Fans were dressed in costume as characters from the show: Avon, Vila, Travis, and Servalan.

The "Script Reading Marathon" took place the next day at a hotel during a con called Elydore. This consisted of fans reading aloud from scripts, accompanied by sound effects.

first page of con report
second page of con report

Some Excerpts

The Blake-a-Thon

On 24th March 1989, at around 10.30 a.m., four brave and foolish members of Horizon stood in Hammersmith Park (which adjoins the BBC TV Centre) to begin a test of endurance which would require all those taking part to have nerves of herculaneum, stamina of several Liberator engines and the minds of... er... mouldy jellies.

We began with a brief session of very silly photographs and then went to the impressive entrance of the mighty Beeb itself. (Actually being allowed inside the perimeter fence where we caught a glimpse of the Doctor's Tardis). We then posed for more silly photographs whilst the guardians at the gate tried to ignore us. Alter saying I farewell to Jackie Ophir (acting in the capacity of Official Horizon Photographer and Starter) Avon, Vila, Travis and Servalan broke into a magnificent walk down Wood Lane to head for our first stop.

At Southall BR Station, I am forced to reveal that I am not quite sure where Southall Gas Works is - the last place I tried on the dummy run was most certainly not it, despite the information I had been given to the contrary. But there was one other possibility near by that we could try. As we approach the area marked on the map, Jill (Avon) Young exclaims: 'That's it! I recognise the warehouse, don't you?' I didn't - but it's a long time since I saw 'Deathwatch'. Travis confirmed that yes, he recognised it too. He tried to climb over the fence, but we managed to stop him in time. With the first of our five stages completed we went in search of a No. E5 bus stop and onwards for our rendezvous with Jackie, and our Supreme Commander Diane Gies (and family) outside the main entrance of Wembley Conference Centre, used in 'Voice from the Past'.

When we eventually got there, we had trouble finding our Supreme Being. Diane had to shout several times against a fierce wind before we heard her. (Ed... understatement of the year, it was practically a mini-hurricane!) The wind caused further chaos by removing the remaining Blake-a-Thon symbols, stealing several serviettes and sugar packets, trying to steal Diane's top, nearly causing Jill's Liberator hat to take off and caused havoc as Jackie attempted the second photo call. After indulging in the refreshments Diane had thoughtfully provided for us, there came an impromptu game of sardines as 8 people were eventually fitted into her car. Travis was confined to the boot, but that didn't stop him from shooting at us! Avon spent some of the journey with a gun in her ear as we made our way to Wembley Central Station.

We arrived with just three minutes to spare to catch an express train back to Waterloo. Both of us were now ravenous as we'd only been surviving (in my case at least) on a sausage roll and three Hot Cross Buns. It was with relief that at Waterloo Station there was a fast food shop still open where we grabbed a 'meal' and ate it within the half hour we had to wait until our slow train to Shepperton arrived. Which was made even more late as BR could not find a crew. As we waited outside the station at Shepperton, the cold started to bite into me. When on the move I seemed impervious to it, but now we were in the home strait, the effects of travelling nearly non-stop for twelve and a half hours began to tell. We had half an hour to wait for a cab to take us to the hotel where we finally arrived, tired and cold, at around 11.15 p.m

[...]

I got undressed and climbed into bed at around midnight. Then I started to worry - tomorrow was a big day. I had a Script Reading to complete...

The Script Reading Marathon

I awoke at 6, after a rather restless night, changed into Avon, had breakfast and spent a lot of time trying to hunt down Committee Members in order to get the scripts for the Marathon. These were finally presented to me in a box in no set order and with some of them not even bound. Sorting them out into series order took a good 20 minutes with help which meant that the script reading started at 11.30 instead of 9.30 a.m. But first, before a page was turned, the full theme tune was played to signal the start. The music seemed to go on for ever, much to the annoyance of those gathered to help (thanks whoever you were, sorry but I didn't catch your names).

The read started with 'Spacefall'. People were popping in throughout the day to join in, have a laugh at the occasional typo classic comment or 'Avon's ineptitude at getting the sound effects brought along to work on cue'. This continued until around 7.30 p.m. when I was persuaded by Nicola and friend that it was about time I ate something. Apart from breakfast, all I'd had was a dry roll and a cup of coffee with some fellow script readers (a Miss P.J. Carr and Co.).

Suitably refreshed, I returned and read 'Dawn of the Gods' and was halfway through the Harvest of Kairos when I was joined by Henry Eggleton for the second time (the man must be a glutton for punishment) and later by Miss Carr and Co. again. Great fun was had by all with the Sula/Anna Grant death scene, mainly because I started dying far too early. All too soon, so it seemed, only myself and Henry were left and we kept on reading until 'Terminal', but then it was 2 a.m. and we parted company to get some well-earned sleep.

At 7 a.m., I awoke and changed into Jenna, ate a hurried breakfast and plunged into a solo stint with the last three remaining Script D scripts.... When I got to the last three pages of 'Blake' and still no-one had turned up, I marched off down to the dealers room, came up to Jackie Ophir at the Horizon table and said: 'Well, I've reached the last three pages of 'Blake' and I'm not dying five times without an audience'. I then grabbed a volunteer to read the stage directions, silenced the people in the dealers room, then, breaking in between to read the dialogue, I died - five times!

In conclusion: Overall, both events went well in respect of organisation and enjoyment. My only complaint being that the Blake-a-Thon run could and should have been a whole lot better, with a decent amount of volunteers taking part. Despite that, those who did compete seemed to enjoy themselves-at least no-one has complained lo me about it yet... So, it was a great pity that more people did not participate. They might have been pleasantly surprised.