Dayna Mellanby

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Character
Name: Dayna Mellanby
Occupation: Bomb Expert, Would-Be Servalan Assassin
Title/Rank:
Location: Liberator, Scorpio
Status: dead
Relationships: Hal Mellanby (father); Lauren (adoptive sister); Justin (mentor); Servalan (enemy)
Fandom: Blake's 7
Other:
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Dayna Mellanby is a major character in Blake's 7. She is played by Josette Simon.

Canon

  • Weapons expert, especially bombs
  • Brought up in isolation in an underwater base on a planet peopled by savages
  • Long-running personal feud with Servalan, who killed her father
  • Kisses Avon ('Aftermath'), nearly has sex with Tarrant ('Ultraworld') & has a Lolita-esque past with Justin ('Animals')
  • Shot on Gauda Prime
  • An early character of colour on British television

Fannish Opinion

If I had to reduce Dayna to some kind of social archetype, I'd probably settle for 'bolshy teenager'. This in itself makes her refreshing, a welcome change from all those sensible professional types from the first two seasons. Not that I particularly like bolshy teenagers - in fact I'd gladly see them all guillotined - but as a contrast to the previous crew Dayna was a shot in the arm. Her practice of carping at Vila captures her immaturity rather nicely, though actual examples are hard to pin down. It was most marked in Sarcophagus, where Tanith Lee managed to bring out many of the essential facets of the main characters without reducing them to crude stereotypes. ...
In conclusion, Dayna can be regarded as the most frequently disregarded regular character in fan discussion, and yet - paradoxically one of the best defined in the episodes regarding her background and the effect it has on her future development. She is, in many respects, a B7 character par excellence, with a good mix of positive and negative qualities. Intelligent yet recklessly spontaneous, undoubtedly brave yet hardly invulnerable to fear (witness her reaction to Doorman's cave monster), quick to form an opinion but nevertheless open to reasoned argument. She is petty, immature and potentially quite spiteful, but also loyal, trustworthy and dependable. I'm also inclined to think she was rather lonely' alienated from the others by her age and her isolated upbringing, and it was this that brought out both the best and worst in her. (Neil Faulkner)[1]
Dayna is badly done by throughout the show. One of the examples which I find most annoying is in one of my favourite episodes, 'Sarcophagus', where we suddenly see Dayna playing a musical instrument as her 'character trait'. So I agree that as a general rule, Dayna suffers from deeply poor characterization. ...
Dayna at last gets an episode to herself (her first since her appearance in Aftermath) ... It's just a shame that the most woefully under-used character in the entire show has to inherit an episode, rather than getting one which was written for her. But that's a failing of the season as a whole, rather than the episode in particular. (Una McCormack)[2]
And then there's Dayna. The new female crew-member. She started out Diana, goddess of the hunt, but once she got on the ship, she rarely succeeded in her warrior role. She just doesn't have the validity, authority, and capability of Jenna and Cally. (Sue Clerc)[3]

Fandom

Dayna with a snow leopard; by Robin Wood
Dayna & Avon on The World Turned Upside Down cover; by Karen River

Dayna is one of the less popular main crew characters in fanworks.[4] Judith Proctor stated in 2001 There aren't many good Dayna stories around.[5] It's unclear whether this reflects inherent bias against characters of colour, or can simply be ascribed to being a female character who joined the crew halfway through the series and didn't receive a great deal of focus in canon. Neil Faulkner has hypothesised that her relatively detailed canonical backstory left few gaps for fanwriters to fill, and few stories explore her history before the Liberator.[6] He also suggested that Josette Simon's lack of interest in appearing at conventions might be another factor.[1] Much ensemble fanfiction treats her as a plot device, with her canonical habit of concealing bombs in her clothing coming in handy in many a tight spot.

Her most popular het pairings are Tarrant/Dayna, building on the Aliens (Nearly) Made Them Do It in 'Ultraworld' & Avon/Dayna, building on their canonical kiss; both are relatively rare pairings. Vila/Dayna has also been written and there's even a little Blake/Dayna, usually set post-Gauda Prime. She is moderately popular in femslash; Dayna/Soolin was the predominant pairing up until 2001[7] & a little Cally/Dayna has also been written. A sexually curious virginal Dayna is a common trope in pairing-focused stories, and she's often written as adventurous in bed.

Lynn Cherny observes the fanon that Dayna is Avon's most staunch supporter and loyal follower: Especially in PGP stories. This has some basis in the show, although she does one or twice argue with him or question his motives.[8]

Dayna is even rarer as a subject for fanart. Chevron states that she is swift, graceful and deadly as a jungle cat and notes that she's been portrayed with a snow leopard.[9] Most art is gen, especially ensembles with other crew members; one exception is a nude Dayna riding a horse in Tales from Space City 2.

Meta about Dayna is likewise sparse. Popular topics include parallels with Shakespeare's The Tempest in her upbringing,[10] discussion of how her character evolved over the series, and comparisons with other female characters. There is little discussion of her race, even though few other non-white characters appear in the series.

Example Fanworks

Dayna, Avon & Soolin on Gambit cover; by Lucia Casarella Moore

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Meta

Fan art

[1] by Jurgen van de Sanden. Pencil portrait (unknown date)

Fanvids

Archives

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hermit.org: Let's Hear It for Dayna (accessed 25 September 2015)
  2. Animals - not a turkey (accessed 26 September 2015)
  3. Sue Clerc 'Avon and women' Lysator 15 November 1992 (downloaded from Lysator)
  4. In the Hermit Library, fewer works are tagged for her than Tarrant, who is introduced at the same time, and Cally & Jenna, two of the other female characters. She gets about the same number of works as Olag Gan and rather more than Soolin, who appeared in only a single season. As of September 2015, the stats on AO3 are broadly similar.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hermit.org: Recomended Fanzines for Dayna (accessed 25 September 2015)
  6. Neil Faulkner 'Good Women Wasted' AltaZine 6: 13–15
  7. Nova. '(Re)Making Space for Women' Sleer as Folk 308–322
  8. Recurring Themes in Blake's 7 Fan Fiction: PART VII. Getting to Know You: (accessed 25 September 2015)
  9. Chevron 'Archetypes in Blake's 7' Lysator 18 November 1992 (downloaded from Lysator)
  10. For example, Blake Revisited: Part 2: The Characters by Frances Teagle (accessed 26 September 2015) & B7 influences by Hafren (accessed 26 September 2015)