Blake’s 7 Drones review: Third in the 2014 series of full-cast audio plays from Big Finish

by SteveRogerson

The third in Big Finish's 2014 series of full-cast Blake's 7 audio plays sees the Liberator crew fighting drones on a battle training planet.

Drones is the third 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 being forced to land on a planet that is used to train Federation troops, using criminals and dissidents as live targets, but the real danger comes from the drones.

Blake's 7 1.3 Drones
Blake's 7 1.3 Drones
Big Finish

Big Finish continues its 2014 series of full-cast Blake’s 7 audio plays with 1.3 Drones, 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, Tim Treloar plays Bru Renderson and Sara Powell plays Dr Cara Petrus.

Written by Marc Platt and directed by Ken Bentley, the hour-long adventure starts with the cliff hanger from the end of the previous play Battleground. The Liberator has been badly damaged by the satellites around Straxis, Federation pursuit ships are on the way and they’ve received a communication from Bru Renderson and Cara Petrus on Straxis. They need help but Blake and his crew have a critically damaged ship with which to deal; Orac’s answer is to land the Liberator on Straxis.

As if they didn’t have enough to worry about, the planet has nanodrones, little flying robots that infect people and then monitor the effects on whoever they have inflicted. That should be fine as long as nobody gets bitten, but of course that doesn’t happen. Add to this different types of crawling drones attacking and Orac’s normal talents being blocked and it doesn’t know by what or how, and things do not look good.


Is Drones any good?

The action jumps nicely between Dru and Cara and the problems on the Liberator, building to the point where the two stories collide. The desperation of those on the planet in the middle of a battle zone is well painted, as is the way Blake is made to realise that some of this is a consequence of his actions.

The peril from multiple sources builds and their situation becomes more and more desperate, all told in a way that keeps the listener hooked. The two original characters are very different, each bringing their own impact to the mix.

Combined, this produces a very gripping story, part horror, part science fiction, with a whole that is the best yet of the three stories in the series. Bring on the next.


Cast interviews

Two interviews round off the CD and the first features Andrew Smith, who wrote Battleground, and Marc Platt, who wrote this one. The two had to work together as the stories are linked and set on the same planet. The second is with some of the cast – Gareth Thomas, Sally Knyvette, Jan Chappell and Michael Keating – and listen to it right the way through or you’ll miss the amusing ending.

The download also includes a copy of issue 61 of Vortex magazine, which contains an interview with Michael Keating. And there is a trailer for the next adventure – 1.4 Mirror.


Blake’s 7 1.3 Drones

Recorded at Audio Sorcery, Drones is available from Big Finish both as a single CD and as a download. Its production code is BFPB7FC004 and its ISBN 978-1-78178-272-9. The music was by Jamie Robertson and the sound design by Martin Montague. The cover art is by Grant Kempster.

Updated: 05/12/2014, SteveRogerson
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DerdriuMarriner on 08/04/2023

It's reassuring that such a compelling series as Blake's 7 translates so well to audio venues.

Would Drones have fared less, equally, more successfully in a visual venue?

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