Del Tarrant

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Character
Name: Del Tarrant
Occupation: pilot
Title/Rank: former Space Captain
Location: Liberator, Scorpio
Status: probably dead
Relationships: brother Deeta (deceased), possible familial relationship with Dev Tarrant; romantic relationships with Servalan, Zeeona, and (briefly) Piri
Fandom: Blake's 7
Other: Played by Steven Pacey
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Del Tarrant is a skilled pilot and former Federation Space Captain. He joins the Liberator crew at the beginning of series 3, having deserted from the Federation, replacing Jenna as the pilot and Blake as Avon's chief rival for control of the Liberator (something the Big Finish audio 'Incentive' picks up on). In series 4, he assumes more of a follower role, allowing Avon to lead. While his idealism is central to the conflict between the two characters, it also affords Avon some tactical advantages. He sometimes uses Tarrant's headstrong approach to distract the enemy while he finds a more devious solution. Despite their conflicts, Tarrant goes out of his way on a number of occasions to save Avon's life. He bullies Vila in several series 3 episodes, although fandom has exaggerated this behaviour until it defines him.

Tarrant is intelligent, cunning and worldly, but can also be arrogant and impulsive. He is also heroic and idealistic, however; when the Liberator is being pulled into a black hole, he stops Avon from abandoning the ship on the idea that "we all go together." Avon says of him: "Tarrant is brave, young, handsome - there are three good reasons for anyone not to like him."

Perhaps because of these qualities, Tarrant has a number of ill-fated love affairs, particularly in series 3, including with Servalan. His brother Deeta (also played by Steven Pacey) is killed in the episode 'Death-Watch'. Fandom often assumes that Dev Tarrant (who is shown betraying Blake in episode 1, 'The Way Back') is some relation of Tarrant's - this may give Blake a reason to distrust Tarrant in Post Gauda Prime scenarios, accurately (i.e. he may be a Federation spy) or inaccurately.

Fan Reactions

Tarrant is probably the most disliked Blake's 7 character (perhaps even more so than Blake). The Recurring Themes in Blake's 7 Fan Fiction says the following:

Tarrant is a weenie: Tarrant bashing is a widespread sport in B7 fandom. Fan fic is beginning to treat him better...well, some U.S. authors are, anyway. (LB). Among his many crimes in fan fic are homophobia (FT), the shoot-out at GP (LB), and general stupidity, none of which have any solid basis in the series ("precipitous" and brash, yes. Stupid, no).

Conversely (perhaps partly motivated by the hate) he has many fans who strongly and positively about him. Such fans are often, though not always, Avon/Tarrant shippers. During the late 1990s/early 2000s, a group of Tarrant fans identified themselves as the Tarrant Nostra.

Fans known for being particularly pro-Tarrant:

Fan Reaction Quotes

[Neil Faulkner]: Cally might be my favourite character, but I actually find Tarrant and Travis easier to write for. Perhaps it's because they both have military backgrounds, which is a bit odd since I haven't worn a uniform since I left school. But the military thing still appeals (like a lot of people, I'm rather interested in military hardware whilst not exactly liking what it does), and the tension between image/ideal and the underlying reality automatically puts a tension within those two characters. They have something to live up to, but they can't necessarily manage it all the time.[1]
Pacey was seen by many as a "young" Gareth Thomas, and an unsuitable replacement for Blake. The producers did not help matters by make Tarrant a reckless idealist easily proven wrong by the more well-established Avon. Although the third season had many successes, local radio stations and newspapers soon instigated a "Bring Back Blake!" campaign designed to re-enlist the services of Gareth Thomas. Josette Simon, an acting newcomer, was luckier than Pacey in that her character seemed to remain consistent from episode to episode.[2]
Pat Jacquerie was moderating a panel, and the subject of Tarrant and slash came up. She said she loved the Avon-Tarrant relationship, but she'd kill anyone who slashed them. My alarm must have shown on my face, because she stopped to reassure me: "I'm only kidding." She was ever passionate...in this case, passionate in her feeling that Avon and Tarrant had an interesting but strictly non-sexual relationship. Imagine my surprise when, a few years later, Pat was not only no longer threatening murder to A/T slashers...she had become one of them![3]

Thoughts from Horizon:

(Grade Four Ignorant) Tarrant could be ruthless and cunning, but he was also arrogant and impulsive. He had a talent for crime and piracy and it's clear that a life in the military would never satisfy his desire for adventure and to be a hero.

Even though he was written originally to be the heroic lead and a replacement for Blake - indeed, The Harvest of Kairos has Liberator under his command and Servalan very much assumes Tarrant to be the leader of the group - he is not as reckless as Blake could be and doesn't particularly share any of his idealism. He remains aboard Liberator because he is intrigued by the riches it can provide him and the excitement of flying the fastest ship in the universe.

Whilst there is no doubt that he would have happily sacrificed Vila for his own personal gain in City at the Edge of the World, he does display a level of personal loyalty to the others. Most notably when he stops Avon from abandoning ship in Dawn of the Gods.
(Angry Angel) I think he bullied Vila in City (for the good of the whole group, not for his own gain) because of his military background. I think he found Vila's reluctance to do things that needed doing annoying, and used a technique he thought would work to get Vila to do them. It's notable that he obviously didn't think he scared Vila as much as he actually did, and was apologetic to him afterwards. So yes, I find Tarrant very honourable, and generally keen to help other people.

(trevor travis) Del Tarrant is no hero. He likes to think he is, but often his actions betray him. If he was sorry for the way he treated Vila in City, then he has a funny way of showing it. Just five episodes later, in Moloch he tries to bully Vila again… this time at gunpoint. Fortunately Vila is having none of it on his occasion.

Tarrant does act inconsistently. I think he’s trying to be his older brother, but often falls short. Tarrant is well suited amongst the group of criminals and misfits on the Liberator and the Scorpio.

It’s after the death of Deeta, that Del’s behaviour does change quite significantly. He loses a lot of his arrogance and vanity (which is so apparent in e.g. Harvest), and he is a lot less argumentative in the final season. It’s interesting that he is Avon’s confidant in Orbit; a kind of trust has developed between the two men. In the final episode, Avon takes Tarrant’s word above that of Blake.

In short, Tarrant tries to be a man of honour like his brother, but he’s not really.

[JustBrad]

Tarrant received vastly differfent treatment from the various writers. They all understood that he was a foil for Avon, but were otherwise inconsistent in their approach. Compare the bullying Tarrant in Moloch or City... to the Tarrant in Deathwatch or Powerplay.

Positive Reactions from 'On the Wing'

The following comments are taken from Tarrant-centric apazine On the Wing:

[Pat]

I should in fairness say that Avon is, narrowly, my favorite character and Tarrant's the close second. I became interested in Tarrant because of their relationship, which — again I'm a minority — I think is more interesting, because less obvious, than the Blake-Avon relationship. As a writer, it's fun to write scenes with Tarrant and Avon, because their differing personalities make for witty and interesting dialogue.

...

Tarrant is the only male crewmember who wants to fight, does fight and doesn't show any sign of extraordinary stress. Perhaps this is partially a result of his training ... no one else is the program has gone through any kind of military training (so far as we are told). So it could be that Tarrant's training has prepared him to encounter prolonged stressful situations, without showing overt psychological strain.

[Lisa]

My immediate attraction to Tarrant was sexual, I must admit. Just one look at that long, lean body, and sexy, little-boy face, and my saliva glands (not to mention a few other glands) were working overtime. I liked the way he stood up to Avon, who I extremely disliked, even if it was sometimes for all the wrong reasons.

[Carol]:

I am interested In Tarrant for a variety of reasons, (Maybe being tall, blue-eyed... and having dark curly hair has something to do with it!) Moving right on... I think I really started liking Tarrant after reading tons of letters and hearing hosts of B7 fans bad-mouth Tarrant for being a bully or something and never saving anything against Avon. Avon was excused for almost anything -- Tarrant was not excused for anything. I see Del as trying to do the right thing, the moral thing, in spite of what he says sometimes. I am anxiously waiting see what other Tarrant fans think.

[Eileen]:

... I also see Tarrant as chivalrous and a gentleman. That's why I dislike fan stories that make off-the-wall statements such as, "Tarrant was always rude." "Cally never liked Tarrant." "Tarrant was never polite." Where do they get this stuff?! Tarrant has plenty of faults but bad manners is not one of them. One of the things I like about him is his awareness of other people's feelings, which he demonstrates in "Children of Auron," "Rumours of Death," "Death-Watch," and "Terminal," to name a few. I'd rather read a story where Tarrant doesn't appear at all than one where the author is too biased to write him accurately. If a person is going to write a Blake's 7 story, I feel they are under some obligation to pay attention to the information given in the broadcasts. The characters are "set" to some degree and when a writer gets too far off the mark the story is usually unsatisfactory at best and downright annoying at the worst.

Thoughts on Tarrant Bashing

On The Wing also spent much of its first two issues trying to establish why Tarrant was so often bashed.

[Leigh]:

I can't help by agree that the popularity of Tarrant-bashing is related to the rise of the Church of Meegat. The really early B7 zines were far kinder to Tarrant than later ones. There seemed to be many people who were Tarrant fans and not afraid to admit it. And it can't be coincidence that Blake and Jenna, the only other characters who had the gonads to stand up to Avon, are also much-despised.

[Pat]:

Why does Tarrant get bashed? I can think of three basic reasons (though there are no doubt others): 1.) The assumption that people, once adult, can no longer change, 2.) a touching but irritating belief that class distinctions do not exist (despite the evidence of the show and our own society) and 3.) a distrust of characters who do not suffer constantly.

Host Tarrant-bashers I know think Tarrant — who does sometimes rush in where angels fear to tread — cannot change. He is fully grown and is set in concrete. Nonsense. Hot only is he a young man, but my feeling is that anyone can change their behavior, even basic ideas, if the desire is there. Tarrant has the desire ... he's the only one in B7 who's willing to admit and apologize for his mistakes and that's halfway there. Determinists will not like Tarrant, but those who believe in character development probably will.

Another reason for disliking Tarrant is, of course, his treatment of Vila. Okay, sorry, but Vila is presented as lower class ... there is a class system in England (where the program was made). There's a more subtle class system in America. I doubt if the division of people into classes is going to radically change in future; it's too convenient a way of making an initial choice of whether you want to further your acquaintance with another person. Give Tarrant the credit that he rises above it enough to recognize when he's wrong with Vila, Also, I think it's valuable to recognize — sorry, Vila fans — that Vila often is irresponsible. Sometimes, Vila rises above himself ... other times, he huddles in a corner and drinks. For a crewmerober depending on his backup, the main problem is that one never knows which course he'll take in any given situation.

As for reason number 3, this just occured to roe! Tarrant is practically the only crewraeraber (aside from the females who — in my opinion — aren't consistently characterized anyway) who doesn't go haywire from fighting the Federation, By the end of the second series, Blake is willing to destroy a lot of lives at Star One ... now, this may be only good military strategy, but his exchange with Cally indicates she thinks it's gone beyond that. "Blake" gives us hints about Blake's bitterness, though not a whole picture. Avon? Well, I don't go with the idea that he's crazy, but he's certainly showing signs of considerable stress (possibly combat syndrome, maybe just plain lack of sleep) during series four. Vila ... well, he doesn't seem interested in fighting the revolution at any point.

[Rebecca Ann]:

My first contact with B7 came via Doctor Who, back in 1982 when I bought some issues of a U.K. zine that had material covering both series. Practically all of the B7 content had to do with the final episode which had aired there very recently; it was thoroughly baffling, but intriguing, and my curiosity was severely piqued—although it would be another three years before it was satisfied. Anyway, there wasn't a great deal of material relating to Tarrant, but what was there was not all that critical, and I believe there was even a fan club for Steven Pacey at one time over there. Based on that, and some comments from friends over there, it seems as if the Tarrant Defamation League had its start over here. Ditto for the Trash-n-Bash Blake Society. The tone of those U.K. zines, especially in the LoC section, was stunned disbelief that the series would end with Avon killing Blakej and a sampling of early B7 fanfic shows that a lot of Brit fans vere very favorably disposed towards Blake and the others.

So, do American fans dislike Tarrant because he replaced Blake? Well, that doesn't make sense because Blake has also been unpopular over here. Is it because, having got rid of Blake, rather than turning it into The Kerr Avon Show, the powers that be went and got a replacement [who is taller, younger, and at least as handsome]? Does Tarrant get kicked because he's young? Because he doesn't worship the ground Avon walks on? Maybe because he isn't always amused at Vila's antics? Because he dares to be that most despised of beings, a hero?

There are a lot of reasons for my liking B7, and one of those is that—despite what many fans would have us believe—they are not a bunch of warped and twisted quasi-psychos wallowing in the dark side of human nature. The only ones who do fit that description are Servalan and Travis II [Travis I was ruthless, but now and then did show a certain passing acquaintance with honor]. The crews of Liberator and Scorpio have their flaws, some are more shaded in gray than others, but still good guys. Each one has qualities that are less than admirable, and there are many instances throughout the 52 episodes when I feel like shaking one or another and telling them to stop behaving in a particularly unattractive fashion. But that only illustrates how real they seem: if you cut them, they do bleed.

[Leigh]:

You may not have seen Tarrant and Dayna as interlopers, but many fans did. This is especially noticeable in the Aussie zine, Chonicles. B7 was shown in Australia only a little after it was shown in the U.K. Thus, Aussie fen had advance notice of what was to come in each series. Many of them gleefully looked forward to the 3rd series. They despised Blake and couldn't wait to get rid of him. They seemed to hate Tarrant and Dayna even wore, however. Apparently, they were expecting B7 to become The Kerr Avon Show after 'Star One,' and were extremely annoyed when these newcomers turned up, stealing screen time from their idol.

[Carol]: It's interesting that Tarrant seems to have had a good image with the first American fans. The early zines and stories are very fair, even complementary. I would find it fascinating to hear from veterans of the days of fuzzy camera copies as to how, why, and when that reversed.

I wonder if it is possible for Tarrant to gain respect in fandom. It is encouraging to see more fans willing to defend the character, though it is still often with some qualifications. "I even like Tarrant." "I won't apologize for defending Tarrant." Tarrant is not the one-dimensional bully, ass, wuss, arrogant SOB, that he is often mislabeled.

Interestingly, I've heard two fan writers admit that their opinion of Tarrant changed for the better when they wrote him. In their stories he came out (surprisingly to them) much more admirable than they had expected. I would say those women were very honest writers, who made the effort to explore all of the characters in their stories, not just the main one or two.

[Virginia]:

Apparently certain people were under the impression that Paul Darrow did not like the character of Del Tarrant. These particular people were Paul Darrow Mega-fans. Anything Paul disliked was trash. Therefore, Tarrant was meant to be bashed. I don't particularly care if this version of the story is correct, since I happen to know many B7 fans who don't think of Tarrant as their favorite...

Popular Tarrant ships

Avon/Tarrant

Avon/Tarrant fics are often optimistic and deal with an egalitarian relationship between the two. Often Avon may have had a previous relationship (or Tarrant will believe he has) with Blake. Influential A/T stories by Pat Jacquerie mean that the pairing gets even more brothel stories and Matriarchal Society Made Them Do It scenarios than the fandom average.

Tarrant/Dayna

Far less popular than A/T, Danya/Tarrant is also usually upbeat, with the two joking with and insulting each other. It may involve an action-adventure plot, or some other excuse for Dayna to make something explode. There is semi-canonical evidence for this pairing in the episode 'Ultraworld' where Aliens Made Them Do It (or almost).

Tarrant/Vila

Tarrant/Vila may be featured as a secondary pairing in Blake/Avon or Avon/Vila fics (where Vila ends up with Avon). It is generally not an angsty pairing.

Other Tarrant Ships

There are relatively few other Tarrant ships - Tarrant/Servalan is effectively canon and sometimes makes an appearance in fics that also include Avon/Servalan. Some early fic pairs Tarrant with Jarvik.

Fanfiction and Popular Tropes

List of Tarrant-centric zines

Example Fanfiction

Gen

Avon/Tarrant

  • Duty by Pat Jacquerie, the author's first A/T, highly influential (1996)
  • A Marketable Commodity by Pat Jacquerie
  • Bondmate by Dorian Gale (Not available on line, published in Southern Comfort 6.5)
  • Night series by Paula (Not available on line, published in Southern Comfort 6.5, 9.5, and 10.5)
  • Mice and Men by Mistral. One fan describes this as "as the Tarrant rapes-Avon-rapes-Tarrant-rapes-Avon story"[4]
  • A Federation Officer by Executrix. Tarrant as secret traitor.
  • Blood and Shadows by Salome. Executrix's Crack Van comment on this fic suggests that BUARA had a Tarrant-based form "BABYT" - Bind and Bugger Young Tarrant

More at the Favourite Avon/Tarrant stories page on Hermit.org

Other Tarrant Pairings

  • The Nothing That Is by Lexa Reiss. Gen dealing with Tarrant's life in FSA, with Tarrant/Travis, Tarrant/Kyera, Tarrant/OC. (1994)
  • Path of Thorns by Mitzi Tick and Felicia Adams. Vila/Tarrant, slave fic, fuck or die (1999)
  • The Last Best Hope and The Long Way Back (primary pairing B/A, but Tarrant/OC is a major part of the second - Tarrant depicted quite negatively)
  • Privilege by Susan Cutter. Young Tarrant & Travis; rape & rape recovery (2001)

Fanart gallery

Tarrant is a relatively popular character in fanart - he probably appears less than Avon, Blake or Vila, but certainly more than anyone else. In some fanart, particularly if it is heavily stylised (and/or nude), it can be difficult to distinguish between Tarrant and Blake.

Other Resources

References

  1. Oh No Not Tarrant! by Neil Faulkner
  2. A History and Critical Analysis of Blake's 7, the 1978-1981, by John Kennth Muir
  3. In Memory of Pat Jacquerie
  4. Review posted by Sandy Hereld to Lysator on March 6, 1994