Blake's 7 is a British science fiction television series produced by the BBC for its BBC1 channel. Created by Terry Nation, a prolific television writer best known for creating the popular Dalek monsters for the television series Doctor Who, it ran for four series between 1978 and 1981. Popular from the time it was first broadcast, it remains well regarded on account of its dystopian tone, moral ambiguity and strong characterisation. It is also remembered for the dramatic ending which ended the series.
Blake's 7 follows the exploits of a group of political renegades, led by freedom fighter Roj Blake, and consisting initially of Blake, Vila Restal, Olag Gan, Jenna Stannis and Kerr Avon. They escape from a prison transport spacecraft and occupy an abandoned spacecraft called by them Liberator with a main computer called Zen. They are later joined by the alien telepath Cally. Later, a supercomputer called Orac is procured.
Gan is killed during the second series. After the second series, Blake and Jenna disappear and are replaced by new characters Dayna Mellanby and Del Tarrant. In the fourth series, Cally dies and is replaced by a new character, Soolin. Following the destruction of the Liberator, the computer Zen is replaced with Slave, a new computer character, part of the newly acquired ship "Scorpio". The group are pursued through space by Space Commander (and later renegade) Travis, and Servalan (Supreme Commander and later President of the Terran Federation).
Set in the "third century of the second calendar", Blake's 7 follows the exploits of revolutionary Roj Blake as he leads his band of rebels against the forces of thetotalitarian Terran Federation which rules the Earth and many of the planets of the galaxy. The Federation controls its citizens using mass surveillance, brainwashingand pacification with drugged food, water and air.
Sentenced to deportation to a penal colony on a remote planet, Blake escapes with the help of his fellow prisoners and gains control of the Liberator, an alien spacecraft far in advance of anything the Federation possesses. The craft has superior speed and weaponry and a teleportsystem that allows crew members to be transported to the surface of a planet without having to land the ship. Blake and his crew then attempt to disrupt and damage the Federation.
While Blake is an idealistic freedom fighter, his associates are petty crooks, smugglers and killers. Notably, Kerr Avon is a technical genius more interested in self-preservation and seeking personal wealth than engaging in rebellion. When Blake is separated from his crew, Avon takes over, confirming the inherent duality in his personality and the loyalty he had for Blake's vision. However, Avon remains a target for Federation forces.
Although many of the tropes of space opera such as spaceships, robots, galactic empires and aliens are present, the series is primarily noted for its strong character interaction, ambiguous morality and pessimistic tone.
The series was originally planned to conclude at the end of its third series, but was unexpectedly and suddenly re-commissioned for a further series. Some changes to the programme's format were necessary, such as the introduction of a new spacecraft, Scorpio. Aware that renewal for a fifth series was unlikely, the production team devised a memorable conclusion for the series which left the fates of the main characters highly ambiguous. Because of this uncertainty, events following the final episode have been the subject of much speculation and debate among aficionados of the series.