Battleground is the second of the 2014 series of full-cast Blake's 7 audio plays from Big Finish. Set during the second season of the original BBC television show, it tells of the Liberator crew trying to track down a Federation project that could give them capabilities similar to that of their own computer Orac. But to find out more, they have to embark on a dangerous mission on a Federation training planet.
Blake’s 7 Battleground review: Full-cast audio play from Big Finish
The second in Big Finish's 2014 series of full-cast Blake's 7 audio plays sees the Liberator crew embark on a dangerous mission to a Federation training planet.
Big Finish continues its 2014 series of full-cast Blake’s 7 audio plays with 1.2 Battleground, set in the second season of the original television series. The story sees Gareth Thomas return as Roj Blake, Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon, Michael Keating as Vila Restal, Jan Chappell as Cally and Sally Knyvette as Jenna Stannis. Alistair Lock plays the computers Zen and Orac, Dan Starkey plays Voss Ferrell, Tim Bentinck plays Abel Garmon and Abigail Hollick plays Alexa Michelov.
Written by Andrew Smith and directed by Ken Bentley, the hour-long adventure picks up where the previous play – Fractures – left off, the quest to find Alexa Michelov, someone that is believed to be giving the Federation similar capabilities to Orac. Their quest takes them to Straxis, a planet that has the codename Battleground 9, a training ground for Federation troopers. But no sooner have they arrived than the Liberator comes under attack. This is going to be no easy mission.
Is Battleground any good?
Dan Starkey does a good job as the over-exuberant commander Voss Ferrell, and plays well off his battletracer (the person who marks him in the mock battle) Alexa, played by Abigail Hollick. Their conflict is one of the most entertaining parts of an entertaining story. The other aspect of the adventure – Blake’s work with Abel Garmon to attack the Federation – forms a nice contrast to Avon’s attempts at convincing Michelov to help him.
This is very much an action-packed episode. It is also well plotted with the different strands of the story meshing nicely at the end. On the down side, the idea that the Federation tracker implants can be disabled by smearing mud over them is, while useful for the plot, more than a tad unbelievable.
And the story ends on a cliff-hanger. The next adventure – 1.3 Drones – is thus eagerly awaited.
The CD finishes with three interviews. The first is with writer Andrew Smith, clearly a fan and one who seemed to have fun producing this, and with actors Dan Starkey and Abigail Hollick. The second interview is with Tim Bentinck, who plays a man once high up in the Federation but is now deemed expendable. “He was a great character to play,” said Bentinck. The final interview is with Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow, Jan Chappell, Sally Knyvette and script editor Justin Richards looking back at the original series. It ends with a little treat, an outtake from the recording. A more in-depth interview with Jan Chappell can be found in the edition of the Vortex magazine that comes with the download.
Blake’s 7 1.2 Battleground
Recorded at Audio Sorcery, Battleground is available from Big Finish both as a single CD and as a download. Its production code is BFPB7FC003 and its ISBN 978-1-78178-271-2. The music was by Jamie Robertson and the sound design by Martin Montague. The cover art is by Grant Kempster.