Writers David Richardson and Cavan Scott have produced three hour-long audio plays that make up volume nine of Liberator Chronicles, the Big Finish series of Blake's Seven audio plays. Here, five of the original actors – Jan Chappell , Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, Steven Pacey and Tom Chadbon – are joined by guest star David Warner.
Blake’s 7: Review of Liberator Chronicles Volume Nine
The ninth in the Big Finish series of Blake's Seven audio plays contains three stories featuring Avon, Cally, Tarrant, Vila and Del Grant.
The ninth volume of Big Finish’s Liberator Chronicles Blake’s 7 audio dramas sees the return of Jan Chappell as Cally, Paul Darrow as Avon, Michael Keating as Vila, Steven Pacey as Tarrant and Tom Chadbon as Del Grant. Guest star is David Warner as Solvin Tavac.
Big Finish is continuing with the format of three separate hour-long stories for the chronicles. Set in the third season, the darkening Avon is evident in “Defector” as he takes the crew on an assassination mission. Del Grant joining the crew won’t please all fans, but Chadbon does a good job. David Warner gets his first chance to shine in the high-octane “Planetfall”, a story with action from start to finish. The action slows down a bit for “Secrets”, and that brings for a more balanced tale as we learn some of Vila’s back story in his interactions with Solvin Tavac. And there are far too few Vila-centric stories in Blake’s 7.
Del Grant is now part of the Liberator crew, though everyone is clearly not totally happy about this. Avon is even less happy about a former rebel who had defected to the Federation and had become the Federation’s “new poster girl”. She is scheduled to make a speech but Avon decides to send Tarrant and Grant in to execute her. Tarrant agrees, reluctantly.
Steven Pacey plays the main narrator in this story, with Tom Chadbon providing the only other vocals, and some nice background about Anna and Del Grant. The fact that all does not go to plan is given away in a teaser at the start – not sure that was a good idea. Nevertheless, a good story with a sound mix of dialogue, suspense and action, and a twist at the end.
Paul Darrow and Jan Chappell now take centre stage as Avon and Cally go on a mission to the Arcadia space station. When Cally is attacked, it is clear that not everyone believes their cover story. And then Cally goes back to her room to discover Solvin Tavac waiting for her; Tavac is ex-Federation, and says he is looking to switch sides. Then something goes wrong, there are explosions, the space station is about to crash into the planet below; the Liberator, of course, was out of teleport range.
If there is a criticism of this piece it has to be that it is weighted heavily in favour of action, which doesn’t always work that well in an audio-only adventure. Nevertheless, the action is fast and furious and carries the listener along as they try to escape the doomed station. And if you thought the twist at the end of “Defector” was good, the last word of this story is, well, listen and see.
After the bombshell at the end of “Planetfall”, it is no surprise that this story picks up where it left off. Michael Keating is the main narrator as Vila and Del Grant visit a Federation trading world looking for a stolen data file of agents that Solvin Tavac had convinced them was up for sale.
There are some tense and engrossing scenes between Vila and Tavac. In fact, it is those scenes that drive the whole play, with the actual mission more a back story. And that is good, seeing a little bit more of the man is probably the most complex character on the Liberator.
Volume nine of the Liberator Chronicles (ISBN: 978-1-78178-309-2) comprises three plays directed by Ken Bentley and Lisa Bowerman. Martin Montague was responsible for the sound design and Jamie Robertson for the music. Cover art was by Grant Kempster. Justin Richards was the script editor and the executive producers were Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs. The download also comes with a copy of issue 66 of Vortex magazine, which includes a behind the scenes look at this collection of stories.
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