Writers Simon Guerrier, Eddie Robson and James Swallow have produced three hour-long audio plays that make up volume seven of Liberator Chronicles, the Big Finish series of Blake's Seven audio plays. Here, four of the original actors – Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating and Jan Chappell – are joined by guest stars Gemma Whelan and Andrew Whipp.
Blake’s 7: Review of Liberator Chronicles Volume Seven
The seventh in the Big Finish series of Blake's Seven audio plays contains three stories featuring Blake, Cally, Avon and Vila.
The seventh volume of Big Finish’s Liberator Chronicles Blake’s 7 audio dramas sees the return of Gareth Thomas as Blake, Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon, Jan Chappell as Cally and Michael Keating as Vila. Guest stars are Gemma Whelan as Arta and Andrew Whipp as Trel Dekkan.
Big Finish is continuing with the format of three separate stories for the chronicles, and even though there is some linkage, such as the character of through the character of Trel Dekkan, they all work as standalones. The format of having the stories told through the eyes of one or two characters has proven difficult in some of the past Liberator Chronicles, but the writers are getting more capable with this format and thus the stories are better suited to the almost monologue style.
“Spy” by Simon Guerrier
The idea seemed straightforward enough. Cally and Vila pretend to be a quarrelling married couple on Cortol Four so they could meet a man called Hartley whom Avon had discovered was a bit of an anomaly and might be able to help a revolution succeed in return for them giving him a lift off the planet. But things do not go to plan.
Villa and Cally work really well as the married couple in “Spy”, and Simon Guerrier paints a nice picture of the depressing world. He also holds the tension well, developing the story in little bits keeping the listener guessing about what is actually going on. When Cally and Vila struggle to find information about the Liberator and the revolution, you feel their frustration and sense of fear as the troubles get closer and their problems get worse. Michael Keating and Jan Chappell seem now very comfortable back in their roles. Arta seemed a little flat at first but developed nicely.
“Disorder” by Eddie Robson
Vila also appears in “Disorder”, but this time it is Avon’s turn to go on a mission with him, to a Federation space station that is about to be decommissioned. Avon and Vila’s job is to steal the database on the Federation’s enemies as it is transferred to the replacement station. Then Vila meets a woman and events start to go wrong.
“Disorder” follows a similar pattern to “Spy”, explaining the mission and then following the events as the plan unravels. It was a shame that Big Finish did not hire an actress to play Roselle as it would have been nice to hear the dialogue between her and Vila first hand rather than via Vila. I was also a little unhappy about the ease with which Vila was talked into abandoning Avon, as that didn’t really fit with the Vila we knew from the television series. In fact, the whole portrayal of Vila just didn’t feel right in this, and as he was the main character the story didn’t work for me.
“The Hard Road” by James Swallow
The database stolen in “Disorder” intrigued Blake about a man called Trel Dekkan, whom Blake decided was a potential ally, though the rest of the crew were not so sure. Blake has decisions to make.
The best was saved for last with “The Hard Road”. Andrew Whipp did an excellent job as the rather unpredictable Trel Dekkan and James Swallow caught the dilemma of Blake’s path well as he struggled with the difficulty of end versus means, something that plagued him on many occasions. In one way, Dekkan had more of a conscience than Blake in the way he offered shelter to ordinary citizens but he also had ruthlessness that maybe Blake wasn’t quite ready for, yet. This look into the battles inside Blake’s mind, told well by Gareth Thomas himself, struck a real chord.
Recorded at Audio Sorcery and Moat Studios, volume seven of the Liberator Chronicles (ISBN: 978-1-78178-307-8) comprises three hour-long 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. The download also comes with a copy of issue 60 of Vortex magazine, which includes an interview with Jan Chappell.