“Blake!” Or alternatively, “Mutos!”

Blake's 7

Anyone else been sticking with the Blake’s 7 audio adventures over on the SciFi Channel? It’s by a bunch of ex-Doctor Who writers (from the glorious (?) Sylvester McCoy era) and stars none of the original cast. You’re probably not, because you have to listen to every episode via the cocking useless Flash player on their web site.

However, through the miracle of technology, I’ve been listening to it on my iPod, where it’s a tad more accessible. We’re up to episode 21 now. After a shaky first four or five episodes – there are 36 in all and they’re about five minutes each – it sort of settled down and is actually quite listenable.

There have been changes though, some of which will probably annoy fans and some of which are just rubbish or change for change’s sake. Blake and Servalan are both Scottish for one thing, Jenna’s American and Avon’s from South London apparently. Servalan’s coming across more like a slightly over-ambitious branch manager of Rumbelow’s, office partying her way to the top, than a space commander and Avon doesn’t sound like he’s even passed GCSE Computing yet. We’ve also lost all the good dialogue that characterised Blake’s 7 when it was really hitting its stride and there are no proper allowances for description: the Liberator may have used to have looked like a mosque on its side in the TV series but it might be a two-kilometre long tangerine by now for all we know.

We’ve also had a bit of a line-up upheaval, with Cally the crap telepath swapped out in favour of an equally crap Federation commander (no, not Tarrant, although it could have been him from that description) played by the omnipresent vocal talents of India Fisher. And horror of horrors, there’s no teleport or force wall and the Liberator has to do hyperspace jumps to get anywhere. Sacrilege!

Still, there have been some plot changes for the good. Blake and co haven’t had the easiest time of getting the Liberator and the still-unnamed Zen to do their bidding. Thanks to the mystery of why the Liberator was abandoned in the first place actually being explored this time, it’s also all quite eerie on that repossessed alien starship, which is a welcome change.

The episodes are kind of diverting, though, more because you keep wondering when they’re going to occasionally intersect with the TV series again rather than because it’s a great piece of work. And they haven’t really got cracking at the terrorism thing yet, which could make it all worthwhile. I’m going to stick with it and let you know whether to buy the inevitable CD set once it’s finished.