Kerr Avon

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Character
Name: Kerr Avon
Occupation: Computer Expert, All-Round Genius, Not-Very-Successful Thief
Title/Rank:
Location: Liberator, Scorpio
Status: Last Man Standing as the Credits Roll
Relationships: Anna Grant (ex-lover)
Fandom: Blake's 7
Other:
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Kerr Avon is a major character in Blake's 7, played by Paul Darrow. Initially secondary to Roj Blake, he takes over the lead role after Blake's departure at the end of series 2. Many fans focus on Avon, to the point that the show has sometimes been rechristened Avon's 5. He's a Super Genius, he wears Black Leather & Studs, and he Suffers So Beautifully it gets its own acronym, BUARA.

In Canon

Avon is a computer expert and underappreciated genius who gets greedy and attempts to extract 500 million credits from the Federation banking system with his lover Anna Grant. He winds up heading for a prison colony, only to escape with Blake & Jenna to form an initially unwilling member of the Liberator seven six five and Blake's terrorists freedom fighters. He swiftly discovers the wardrobe room and turns from Frumpy Scientist to Leather-clad Sex God. (He looks quite good in black silk, too.)

After Blake's disappearance Avon takes over as leader, playing an increasingly flirty game of cat & mouse with Servalan, whilst hunting for first Anna, then Blake. Events spiral out of control, Avon turns (even more) mad paranoid, acquires a Manic Grin, and loses or destroys everything he loves appreciates – Anna, the Liberator, Cally, Vila's friendship – culminating in killing Blake to ruin 9 million fans' Christmases.

Chris Boucher, the series script editor, stated in a 1992 interview:

...I was always careful to make sure that Avon could have an idealistic reason for doing something, and also a totally selfish and cynical one, and you pays your money and you takes your choice. I don't think to my mind the character was really sure of his own motives anyway, I mean as far as Avon was concerned rationally, he always did it for totally cynical reasons.[1]

...and Avon fans love to play with that ambiguity.

Fan Reactions

Truly a great character. Cynic. Anti-hero or Byronic hero, your choice. Second-greatest computer expert in the Federation. Semi-skilled embezzler (which is how he ends up on a prison ship). Doomed romantic. Reluctant rebel leader. Intermittent beauty. Leather fetishist. He spends four seasons telling anyone in earshot that he’s just out for himself, then doing pretty much what he would do if he were Sir Lancelot.
Arguably, The Pretty One, The Smart One, and the Ho. (A case can be made for Tarrant, q.v., as The Pretty One.) It’s obvious that there’s some intense dynamic going on between Blake and Avon; you decide its nature. A very high percentage of B7 fans are Avonfans, and there’s precious little B7 smut in which he doesn’t at least make an appearance. Much of this is due to Paul Darrow’s intense and magnetic performance, although it’s never clear if he severed his ties to the Scenery Eaters. He and Blake both have extremely sexy voices, so you could get aroused if you kept the picture turned off. However, some people watch with the sound off so they can observe the astonishing disparities between dialogue and body language. (Executrix)[2]
Avon was quite brilliant. He was also cynical, sarcastic, arrogant, untrusting, ruthless, greedy, and a big believer in looking out for Number One. He claimed to have nothing but contempt for Blake's ideals (he once referred to Blake as a "great big bleeding heart"), and was extremely pessimistic about his chances of success. And yet, somehow, he stayed and fought alongside Blake anyway, saving his life at every possible opportunity and ultimately even carrying on the fight after Blake had disappeared... Which has led to twenty years' worth of fan speculation on exactly what his motives were, and what was actually going on in his extremely complicated head. (Blake and Avon had an extremely interesting relationship. The phrase "love-hate," in my opinion, barely even begins to describe it.) (Betty Ragan)[3]
...Avon is a fallen angel, supercilious and fastidious in manner, caring little for the opinion of others and often ruthlessly selfish...

Avon could be said to function as Blake's doppel-ganger, which enables him to display the dark and negative aspects denied to a popular hero. His nature is devious and ambivalent, he can be sullen, carping and malicious. His relationship with Blake is complex. ...

The role provides much of the tensile strength of the series. Any drama is generally improved by adding a factor of internal stress to the protagonist group, otherwise they can slip into bland or sentimental relationships which can make them a very dull set of people to watch when there is no rousing action taking place. ... Avon is a potent and fascinating character. Without him, it is difficult to envisage the series being able to continue after Blake's departure at the end of Series 2. (Frances Teagle)[4]
He is allowed by story conventions to be many things that I as a brainy woman would like to have permission to be. He can be cold, arrogant, driven, "difficult", curious, eccentric, ill-tempered. And yet he is still loveable. I'm jealous. (Alison)[5]
Initially, Avon seems to be the Spock of the series; he’s actually the Kirk, but it’s a little more complicated and sad than that.

Avon is the sort of character — antisocial, cynical, what TV Tropes calls a “Deadpan Snarker” — who becomes a fan favorite. This sexy archetype is played, however, with unusual realism. His disdain for humanity is not cute. He really doesn’t get along with the other characters. ...
As his power grows, he acquires more trappings of sci-fi badassery — leather, studs, shooting people, kissing people who didn’t ask to be kissed.
Yet Avon can’t pass for an action hero. His basic appearance of fragility plays a role; difficult to be Han Solo when you look so clamped and glum. ...

...he’s as odd a duck as Blake the rebel engineer: Avon the killer/programmer, a poseur among badasses, who becomes the biggest badass of all through sheer force of recognition that badassery is the only game in town, and promptly implodes, helpless, desperate. Cue cheery fourth-season end-credits theme. (Critical Failures)[6]
Avon in his early frumpy costume & hairdo; by Evelyn Turner

In Fanon

Fanon Avon is often like canon Avon at particular time periods, only more so. (More of a genuis, more of a workaholic, more attractive, more emotionally closed, more arrogant, more paranoid...) Some fanon versions polarise his canonical characteristics to make him either Avon the Perfect or Avon the Bastard. Weepy Avon is one exception; he appears mainly in Blake/Avon stories, particularly those set post-Gauda Prime. Telepathic or empathetic Avon is another trope with no obvious basis in canon; one source suggests it originates in Avon as B7's Spock.[7] An inability to lie directly is a common fanon trait that contradicts canon. Although Darrow is famously clumsy, Avon's often described as "feline" and "graceful".

One persistent piece of fanon is that he is an Alpha grade, a "fact" never mentioned in canon, and many fans place him in some form of super-elite Alpha-Plus grade. His background is usually assumed to be aristocratic and lacking in love. He often likes classical music, and enjoys fine wines & gourmet food.

Avon is commonly supposed to suffer from back pain, headaches, allergies, insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, drug dependency and so on, with various degrees of canonical justification from nil to sketchy. An aversion to physical contact and an exaggerated concern for privacy are also fanonical traits. Fanon sometimes has him concerned about his height (Darrow is shorter than most of the other male actors).

Avon's Teddy Bear

Many fanworks feature Avon with a teddy bear. A fan explained how this became a Blake's 7 meme.

Avon's Teddy Bear, as told by Sandra Kisner (posted to the mailing list August 16, 1993 and included [on Adrenaline and Soma Powered Blake's 7 Pages] with permission of the author):

Ok, here's the story of Avon's teddy, as well as I can remember it. It's been a couple of years.

Once upon a time, Sheelagh Wells told Paul Darrow she'd figured out why Avon never smiled-- someone had taken away his teddy bear when he was a little boy. She then presented him with a small (about 4" sitting, tan) teddy bear. It sat on his dressing table for a while, but eventually disappeared (Sheelagh had taken it back on the sly), and the subject was dropped. It may have made a brief appearance later (just to be sure he remembered), but I'm not sure.

Then, during the filming (taping?) of "Terminal", in the scene where Avon and the injured "Blake" are having their little chat, "Blake" says (approximately) "Be careful, Avon, your sentiment is showing," and as Avon is about to respond, a small tan bear (_the_ bear) slowly rises above the edge of the table behind Blake's head. Paul Darrow cracks up, big time.

The bear has made an appearance at Scorpio when the blooper reel was shown, so we've met (he's cute).

This story is also told on the audiotape "Blake's Back," available from Horizon, on which Gareth Thomas and Paul Darrow relate many stories about the series. The bear can be seen peaking out of Thomas's shirt pocket on the cover photo. [8]

Pairings

The major pairings are with Blake, Vila & Tarrant in slash and Cally & Servalan in het. Minor pairings include Soolin, Anna Grant and a bunch of Mary-Sues OFCs. The archetypal Little Black (Leather) Dress, Avon gets paired with virtually everyone sentient at least once.[9][10] At times a degree of good-natured rivalry has existed between the supporters of the B/A & A/T pairings, though many Avoniacs don't care who he's shagging as long as it makes him happy less grumpy. (See the Fanfiction tropes section for examples.)

Blake/Avon

Fans love to explore the complex relationship between Avon & Blake in fanfiction. There's a huge range of Blake/Avon stories, which span the spectrum from enemies to buddies, from hatesex & dub-con to curtainfic. Avon is sometimes feminised in this pairing, and is often more emotional than in canon, even to the point of being weepy. His physical beauty is frequently emphasised. Often the relationship is uneven, though Avon loves Blake who is Married to the Cause & Blake loves Avon who Isn't Capable of Love (after Anna) are both common. Blake is sometime portrayed as functionally asexual due to his mindwipe. Fanfiction is often preoccupied with the couple's first time.

Avon/Vila

Avon/Vila is often written as a continuing relationship, although there are many first-time stories. Avon usually retains control. Often the relationship is seen as merely a convenient sexual outlet on Avon's side, who may be in love with an unresponsive Blake or may perceive himself to be straight. Some stories explore the sex turns to love scenario, especially in the PGP setting. Vila forgiving Avon for the events of "Orbit" often looms large in stories set after that episode.

Avon/Tarrant

Avon/Tarrant often seems to substitute one Curly-haired Rebel for another. Avon usually retains control, with Tarrant seen as Avon's possession. 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.

Avon/Cally

Avon/Cally is probably the most popular het pairing, though Avon/Jenna is said to have been popular in the early fandom.[10] Virgin Cally is one trope (Auronar Do It By Cloning). Sometimes used as background in S4 stories, after Cally's death, to pile on the angst. Stories that explore Cally's alien biology, other than her telepathy, are rare.

Darrow's Own Fanfic

Meta

Endless discussion took place in APAs, letterzines, the Lyst & Space City/Freedom City, and has now largely moved to livejournal. Sue Clerc writes: Any topic not directly about Avon will mutate into an Avon-centered discussion within a maximum of 5 posts.[11] Perennial topics include Avon's motivations, his past history & childhood, and his relationships with Blake, Cally & Anna. Emma Peel combed his dialogue to catalogue, with sound clips, all the times he said "well" (now available here). His hairstyles and his costumes also come in for a lot of discussion. Executrix points out that B7 is the only fandom I know of where the pairings don’t have names, but the outfits do.[12] Claire Emery writes of his costumes: They range from the 'phwoaaar!' to the 'Oh no, please - take it away!' but they are seldom less than utterly compelling.[13] Fans drooled over his thigh-high black leather boots from "Horizon", but the "lobster suit", a red leather outfit he wore in "Pressure Point", got a lot of flak.

Fanfiction

Avon is probably the most popular character in fanfiction of all flavours.[14] He appears in more post-Gauda Prime (PGP) stories than any other character,[15] perhaps partly because he's still standing when the credits roll. Tropes include:

Avon in leather & studs; by TACS

Pre-Way Back

Avon's history back on Earth. A high proportion of PWB stories focus on Avon. Works set during this period often explore the Federation caste system, and frequently assume that Avon is some sort of super-elite Alpha-Plus. The most common backstory has Avon meeting Blake while they were both working on the Aquitar project. Sometimes he gets to meet Vila or, more rarely, other cast members. His relationship with Anna is also common story fodder. His childhood is another oft-written topic; usually assumed to be cold & unloving, some stories go further to posit that he was abused as a child. The unnamed brother mentioned in "Space Fall" is fleshed out in some stories.

Beat Up and Rape Avon

Avon gets a lot of torture, not only to show off his beautiful suffering but also as a device to make him drop his rigid suppression of his feelings. The partner of choice gets to comfort him, often with sex. Also see BUARA.

Other DubCon Devices

Lots of other devices are used to make Avon open up to the pairing character of choice, including alcohol, truth drugs, telepathy, hypothermia, aphrodisiacs, sex pollen, alien intervention...

Manipulative/Evil Blake

Blake and Avon's power games get out of hand, and Avon gets hurt. Often he retaliates in his own devious fashion. Sometimes this metamorphoses into BUARA. Sometimes Blake gets to be both rapist and comforter. Although Avon has a similarly adversarial canonical relationship with Tarrant, this trope is rarely seen with other characters.

Slut Avon

Avon, far from being sexually repressed as he often is in BUARA stories, likes anonymous or extreme sex. The partner of choice stumbles across his kink, is appalled, then turned on. Sometimes Avon's sluttiness expresses itself in sleeping his way around the entire crew.

Many fans think Avon's a cat person; by Suzan Lovett

On-Planet Mission Goes Wrong

Simple missions never go to plan in the B7 universe, and provide infinite possibilities for Avon to be trapped or forced to have sex with the partner of choice. Wide variety of pairings and gen with this trope.

Teleport Malfunction

Staple trope of all B7 fic, allowing for cloning Avon, or simply stranding him anywhere in time & space.

Bodyswaps

Bodyswaps are another B7 staple. The "Ultraworld" Brains in a Jar episode can be applied to swap Avon & Cally, and most other characters get the chance to swap with Avon (or co-habit a body with him) in one story or another.

Blake as President

AUs or PGPs with Blake as president and Avon as his advisor. Avon often retains his critical role. Can be gen or slash.

Orbit AUs

Nearly spacing Vila in the S4 episode "Orbit" is one of his actions that fans are least happy to forgive (more so, perhaps, than actually killing Blake). AUs abound, including fix-its where Avon doesn't consider spacing him, stories where Vila is killed, stories where Avon is killed, stories where Avon gets his comeuppance, either from Vila or others of the crew, and stories where other characters take Vila's place. This trope became so much of a cliché it sometimes got played for humour in later incarnations.

PGPs

There are a lot of different PGP scenarios where Avon survives... Avon is the only survivor and has to come to terms with killing Blake, sometimes by forming some form of relationship with an original or crossover character. Avon was programmed to kill by Servalan. Avon & Vila survive and abandon the revolution to live off their winnings from the Freedom City heist in "Gambit". Avon cooperates with Servalan and hands over Orac to earn a reprieve from execution. Avon makes a life with the Blake clone from "Weapon". Blake survives, forgives Avon fairly readily, and they plan a more-effective resistance movement together, often with Deva, Avalon, or other minors. Alternatively, Blake doesn't forgive Avon, and sometimes even goes so far as to have him executed for murder. Avon even contrives to appear post-mortem in several PGP stories.

Gen

Pairings

Other Examples

Recs

Fanart

Avon's a favourite subject for fanart. He is portrayed in canon costumes, fantasy or historical costumes and au naturel, sometimes with bondage trappings. Artists include Kathryn Andersen, Theresa Buffaloe, Pat Cash, Gayle F, Linda Fairbanks, Jean Kluge, Suzan Lovett, luluha, Lucia Casarella Moore, Adrian Morgan, Caren Parnes, Phoenix, Randym, Karen River, Leah Rosenthal, Spacefall, stratosmacca, TACS, Evelyn Turner, "Whitby27", and many others. A representative selection of pictures is included below:

Fanvids

Angstier fanvids tend to focus on the tragic trajectory of Avon & Blake in canon, majoring on clips from the tracking gallery scene in "Blake". There are also many classic Avon/Cally vids from the early fandom. Lighter fanvids tend to be less Avon centric, but a few comedy vids highlight Darrow's famous clumsiness and the peculiar flourishes he makes when aiming a weapon.

Examples

Avon and Blake arm wrestling; by Phoenix from Fire and Ice 2. This B/A zine series is particularly good for erotic art.

Other Fan Activities

Not surprisingly, costuming is another popular activity. Some fans have purchased original costumes, while others make replicas. Fancrafts are also popular, and include embroidering Avon's image onto items such as handbags, and making & dressing dolls or teddy bears.

Avon Fanclubs

Paul Darrow's fanclub, Avon: the Paul Darrow Society, was founded in 1980 and is run by Ann Bown. The club put out newsletters and occasional zines, as well as other merchandise. It acted as a focus for some Avoniacs, particularly in the pre-Internet era, but the close involvement of Darrow & his late wife Janet Lees Price with the club inhibited some forms of fannish expression.

The American Fans of Paul Darrow was active in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It published a newsletter. The Paul Darrow Appreciation Society was active at around the same time, and also published a newsletter.

Avon-centric Print Publications

Non-fiction

Fiction Anthologies

Fan Sites & Resources

Communities

External Link

References

  1. Kaldor City: Chris Boucher Interview (accessed 18 July 2013)
  2. crack_van: Blakes7: An Overview (accessed 18 July 2013)
  3. Betty's Guide to Blake's 7 (accessed 19 July 2013)
  4. Hermit: Blake Revisited: An appraisal of a science fiction series: Part 2: The Characters (accessed 19 July 2013)
  5. Quoted in "Sexy Nerds: Illya Kuryakin, Mr. Spock, and the Image of the Cerebral Hero in Television Drama" (Cynthia W. Walker & Amy H. Sturgis), p. 208, in Common Sense: Intelligence As Presented on Popular Television, (Lisa Holderman, ed.)
  6. Critical Failures: Characters of note: Kerr Avon and Roj Blake (accessed 26 July 2013)
  7. Adrenaline and Soma Powered Blake's 7 Pages: Recurring Themes in Blake's 7 Fan Fiction: PART VI. Headgames (accessed 23 July 2013)
  8. Avon's Teddy Bear
  9. Hermit: Slash and Adult Pairings (accessed 18 July 2013)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Adrenaline and Soma Powered Blake's 7 Pages: Recurring Themes in Blake's 7 Fan Fiction: PART IX. Friends and Lovers, Kinks and Consequences (accessed 23 July 2013)
  11. Adrenaline and Soma Powered Blake's 7 Pages: FAQs about Blake's 7 (accessed 24 July 2013)
  12. ship_manifesto: Blake/Avon (Blakes7) (accessed 19 July 2013)
  13. Avoncentric: Fashion Guide (accessed 18 July 2013)
  14. Oft-claimed but hard to verify, as most zine stories are not online and most older archives have gone offline. The Hermit Library statistics as of 18 July 2013 are Avon 452 stories, Blake 307 & Vila 217, with no other character above 200. The Archive of Our Own statistics as of 18 July 2013 are Avon 694 stories, Blake 483 & Vila 449, with no other character above 200.
  15. Kathryn Andersen analysed 138 PGP stories from printzines in the article Let Me Count The Ways The World Ends; Avon was alive in 72.5% & Vila in 63.8%; no other person made it above 50%. [1]