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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

dream cast: hypothetical new ‘Blake’s 7’ series

It’s still Thursday for another couple of hours where I am, so it’s time to remake an 80s classic TV show or movie with an all-new cast. This week: Blake’s 7, the 1978-1981 BBC science fiction show. A revival has been rumored for years, but as right now, there’s nothing definite in the pipeline. (Don’t miss the BBC’s cult-TV subsite devoted to the show.)

(If you have a suggestion for an 80s TV show or movie we should play with, feel free to email me.)
The original cast included:

Roj Blake: Gareth Thomas
Kerr Avon: Paul Darrow
Jenna Stannis: Sally Knyvette
Vila Restal: Michael Keating
Cally: Jan Chappell
Olag Ga: David Jackson
Del Tarrant: Steven Pacey
Dayna Mellanby: Josette Simon
Soolin: Glynis Barber
Orac: Peter Tuddenham
Servalan: Jacqueline Pearce
Space Commander Travis: Brian Croucher/Stephen Greif

My dream cast for an update:

Roj Blake: Paul McGann
Kerr Avon: Christopher Eccleston
Jenna Stannis: Kate Winslet
Vila Restal: John Simm
Cally: Cate Blanchett
Olag Gan: Philip Glenister
Del Tarrant: David Tennant
Dayna Mellanby: Michelle Rodriguez
Soolin: Billie Piper
Orac: Stephen Fry
Servalan: Helen Mirren
Space Commander Travis: Ralph Fiennes

Who would you cast? Have fun!

With a rebel yell:

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posted in:
talent buzz

  • Jeff

    Blake’s 7 seems like an ideal candidate for revival. For one thing, almost no one has ever watched it, particularly outside of the UK. For another, despite the fact that it presented a lot of interesting ideas that just weren’t around in sci-fi TV at the time, it was made almost unwatchable by a lack of both talent and funds, especially considering the perspective of a modern viewer.

    Unfortunately, it will probably never happen.

    Your cast sounds great, though!

    (But honestly, a Blake’s 7 remake would basically just be Firefly.)

  • RogerBW

    I’ve been seeing a lot more TV than movies lately, which will influence my casting choices. Interesting suggestion for Gan, though! I’ve only met Glenister in Hustle, but he’s dashed good there.

    Roj Blake: Omar Epps
    Kerr Avon: Crispin Glover
    Jenna Stannis: Yvonne Strahovski
    Vila Restal: David Nykl
    Cally: Lena Headey
    Olag Gan: Bruce Campbell
    Del Tarrant: Brian Austin Green
    Dayna Mellanby: Garcelle Beauvais
    Soolin: Leven Rambin
    Orac (and Zen): a really good synthetic voice
    Servalan: Emily Procter
    Space Commander Travis: Charles Dance (I’m thinking particularly of his Mr Benedict in The Last Action Hero)

    (btw I think comment thread subscription may not be working – I certainly haven’t had any emails lately.)

  • RogerBW

    Got it: Summer Glau for Orac and Zen. She has that “not quite a fully-functioning human” voice down pat.

  • JSW

    I fear for what the casting of Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant in the same move would to to the space-time continuum.

  • Gee

    I’m hopeless at this. I’m still trying to think of someone to be Picard if Stewart weren’t available. I’d be no good as a casting director, that’s for sure.

    However, using a couple of suggestions from above but switching roles, I think David Tennant would make a suitably menacing Travis (with Scottish accent, preferably) and Charles Dance would be great as the amoral, cold, brilliant and utterly ruthless Avon. And how about Richard Armitage as the idealistic (and also ruthless in his own way) Blake?

    The latest I’ve seen about a new version of Blake’s 7 is that it will be set in the same universe but some years down the line, with Paul Darrow making a cameo as Avon. I hope they don’t do this. To my mind, the attraction of Blake’s 7 is the actual characters and their interactions, and not the backdrop. I’d love to see a proper remake using the original characters. Unfortunately, the BBCs remake of Survivors is very poor. I’d prefer that Blake’s 7 is left in peace rather than go down that route. If they could get someone who loves it the way new Doctor Who is loved by its makers, then I’d feel a lot happier about a remake.

    I haven’t seen enough of Firefly to comment whether an updated Blake’s 7 would merely end up the same. Blake’s 7 pits a freedom fighter against a totalitarian regime while having the rest of his crew more interested in pursuing criminal activities for their own benefit and most doubtful about falling into line. Avon is fully prepared to kill fellow crew members if required. The viewer is left in no doubt that he would do it.

  • Paul Darrow himself on one of the DVD extras of Blake’s 7 suggested that Firefly was the sequel to Blake’s 7.

    My wife got me to watch this excellent show since she owned the VHS tapes of it. I bought her the DVDs when they came out. It does have a lot of interesting things in it. And once you get past the ‘cheap’ sets and (sometimes delightfully camp) acting it is a good story.

    I heard that they were planning a remake as a miniseries

    Who would I cast?
    Roj Blake: Chiwetel Ejiofor
    Kerr Avon: Christopher Eccleston (Without a doubt)
    Jenna Stannis: Sarah Parish
    Vila Restal: John Simm (Another inspired choice)
    Cally: Talulah Riley
    Olag Gan: Robby Coltrane
    Del Tarrant: Matthew Goode
    Dayna Mellanby: Noma Dumezweni
    Soolin: Emma Watson
    Orac (and Zen): Nicholas Briggs
    Servalan: Lacy Turner
    Space Commander Travis: (hard to go past David Tennant here but I’ll try) Mark Strong

  • blake

    I was named after this show.

    I could be Blake.
    I am Blake.

    I’ll cast myself.

  • NorthernStar

    Paul Darrow, the original Avon, has bought the rights to Blake’s 7, IIRC. Unfortunately that means, since the Beeb won’t have a stake in the merchandising, it’s unlikely to be re-made.

    I’d love to see a revival though.

    Roj Blake: John Simm
    Kerr Avon: Rupert Penry Jones
    Jenna Stannis: Indira Varma (Susie from Torchwood)
    Vila Restal: The little blonde comedian from Mock the Week whose name I can’t think of right now.
    Cally: Indra Ove (Paula from Space Island One)
    Olag Gan: Bill Bailey
    Del Tarrant: Adam Garcia (wasted as Britannia High‘s dance teacher)
    Orac (and Zen): Gareth Thomas (the original Blake)
    Servalan: Jenny Seagrove (Jo from Judge John Deed)
    Space Commander Travis: Peter Wingfield

  • PaulW

    I remember a Dead Ringers sketch where Eccleston threatened to star in Blake’s Seven: the Movie…

    Personally I never got into the series. Someone back in Gainesville in my college years loaned me a video copy, and I watched it about 20 minutes into the series. I stopped watching it when one of Blake’s lawyers tried to bribe a security officer with her plastic bracelet. I just… I just couldn’t accept the idea that in a futuristic society with credit cards that a cheap plastic bauble could be used like that! Any suspension of disbelief went out the window with that one scene…

    MaryAnn, suggestions for hypothetical remakes/recastings:
    1) Plan 9
    2) Black Sunday (the Super Bowl/terror attack one, not the vampire/witch Italian one)
    3) any of the early Bond movies (if they’re rebooting the series, what would a Daniel Craig version of Dr. No or Goldfinger look like?)
    4) Quiet Man, or Fort Apache (some of the better Ford/Wayne films)
    5) Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert’s Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens! (ducks)

  • Jolly

    Avon was the only character that made an impression on me…I forward James Nesbitt as a potential candidate. Omar Epps might actually work as Blake. I don’t remember the remaining characters.

    Re: Firefly — I suppose Jayne is kind of a stupid version of Avon (a stretch, I know). Beyond that, Firefly is much warmer than Blake’s 7…the crew makes up a dysfunctional family that seem to actually care about one another. Definitely worth checking out though, if you liked Blake’s 7…

  • MaryAnn

    Roj Blake: Chiwetel Ejiofor

    Oo, nice.

    I’ll cast myself.

    Not in the spirit of the game, blake.

    MaryAnn, suggestions for hypothetical remakes/recastings:

    There is a clearly enunciated method for making suggestions. It’s not for any arbitrary reason.

  • Neil from Beachwood, Ohio

    There are a couple of things I never understood about “Blake’s 7”. One of them is the title. Blake and his crew never numbered more than six, and most of the time there were only five!

    Gan (David Jackson) was my favorite character. I don’t know why he had to be the first one killed off.

    And the violent non-ending was a major disappointment. I know that Gareth Thomas agreed to return as Blake for the final episode only on the condition that his character would be killed off. But they chose the wrong killer, IMNSHO.

    Does anyone who was gunned down in that episode survive? Does the one left standing as the credits begin to roll survive? If he is the sole survivor, does he continue the fight against the Federation?

    Where was the archvillainess? If the show had to end with a battle royale, why wasn’t she involved in it?

    A sequel (NOT a remake) to tie up these loose ends is definitely in order.

  • RogerBW

    Blake and his crew never numbered more than six, and most of the time there were only five!

    Zen was the final member of the original Seven. (It’s not as though the term were ever used within the canonicity of the show; it was just a title. This would perhaps explain why they didn’t change it in the later series.)

    And if you think that resolution was unclear, try anime some time…

  • MaryAnn

    Don’t forget Orac: I’d count him as a member of the crew, too.

  • Allochthon

    Of course Nicholas Briggs needs to be Orac/Zen!

    If MaryAnn’s first cast actually happened, I would think I’d died and gone to heaven. (Minus Kate Winslet as Jenna. Not cold/ruthless enough.)

    Chiwetel Ejiofor would also be great as Blake, but that would bring the parallels with Firefly too close to the surface.

    Blake’s 7 still ranks as one of my favorite SF shows.

  • James Perkins

    NO NO NO!

    Remakes are always terrible. ALWAYS.

    Anyone new attempting to play, say, Avon, will always be considered a poor-man’s Paul Darrow. I like the idea of setting it ~30 years later and still having Paul Darrow (and possibly other regulars) make cameos or more important appearances. The characters were great, but it was good writing and good acting, and realistic against the (hopefully reusable) backdrop of Nation’s totalitarian (mostly) Galaxy. The story could be about an aged Avon (reluctantly, probably) inducting a new generation of rebels, theives, mercenaries, and pychopaths…

  • MaryAnn

    Remakes are always terrible. ALWAYS.

    So don’t play the game. No one is forcing you to.

  • moondaisy

    I hope they don’t ever remake this, cos I love the original so much, but if they did, here’s my cast list:

    Blake: Paterson Joseph – would also make a good Avon (would have loved to see what he’d be like as The Doctor), see him as the Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere. I would put Christopher Eccleston (because I love him) but that would ruin his turn as the Doctor in my mind.

    Avon: John Simm – he’d be wonderful in this, like he was as the Master to David Tennant’s Doctor.

    Jenna: Lauren Laverne – I think she’d be brilliant, even though she’s not an actress

    Vila: Simon Pegg – I know he’s off playing Scotty in Star Trek, but he’d be better placed here, surely?

    Cally: Keeley Hawes – she’s got that slightly otherworldly quality

    Gan: Russell Tovey – He doesn’t have the same physique, but I think he’s got it in him to be ‘the hero’ type

    Orac: Peter Serafinowicz – I love his voice

    Del Tarrant: Matt Berry – I know he does comedy, but I think he’d fit this. Plus he sounds a lot like Steven Pacey

    Dayna Mellanby: Freema Agyeman. I’d like to see her do more action-y stuff

    Soolin: Georgia Moffett – blonde, pretty, good at playing people who know how to handle themselves

    Servalan: Tilda Swinton – beautiful, elegant and utterly ruthless

    Travis: Richard Armitage – thing this is based on him as Gisburne. Didn’t like the show, but he was good.

    Alright, a lot of mine are people from Doctor Who, but there were crossovers in the original series with Doctor Who actors, and it’s not like this counts for anything anyway!

    p.s. To NorthernStar re: your comment above:
    “Vila Restal: The little blonde comedian from Mock the Week whose name I can’t think of right now.”
    Do you mean Russell Howard? Interesting…

  • moondaisy

    P.P.S. After discussing this with a mate, I’d like to add Shirley Manson as a suggestion for Servalan; there are certain similarities between Servalan and Teminator’s Catherine Weaver (shapeshifting robot-ness aside).
    Plus after reading some of your other stuff on this site, wouldn’t Ioan Gruffudd make a fantastic Blake? Or Anthony Head. Oh dear, this is going to turn into an obsession, isn’t it?

  • robo

    Blakes 7 was a big hit in Australia. Jeff’s comment at the top about no-one outside the UK ever seeing it is wrong! I agree that the ending has some loose ends that need tying up. It should be perfectly obvious to anyone with the meanest intelligence that a remake would be good fun. Now, I have spent far too much time on your petty affairs -I am closing down.

  • Todd McLean

    Howdy Folks….

    I feel a bit like a tourist here as I scroll down reading these entries, as I think Im the only one who was born in America to have seen all 52 episodes of Blake’s 7.

    Actually, I saw the series while I was growing up in the DEEP South on Georgia Public Television of all places. Do I get any extra points for that? ;)

    Regardless, If I had to recast this classic show…. I’d like to throw my opinion into the mix if I might, and a few add names that might give this cast more of an international mix. Not that there’s anything wrong with the fine folks at the BBC, Im just trying to insure the syndication health of hypothetical new redux as one of its Sleazy Hollywood Producers. Ooops…. The “Sleazy” in Sleazy Hollywood Producer is redundant, my mistake. :p

    Now admittedly, some of my casting is genre casting…. so Im not pushing any envelopes in some cases, or I really like the Actor/Actress in question. (I will tell you right now, I am very biased towards Farscape, but more on that later.)

    Further, I tried to be as realistic with my choices as possible, despite this being a “dream cast”. I wanted to be able to get a cast that had worked in the medium before, and wouldnt break my current budget…. provided I dont get that promised bail out of Three dollars and 42 cents from The President Obama Transition Team. ;)

    Anyways, here is my theoretical hypothetical Dream Cast of Main Players for a Four or Five Season run…. “For Your Edification and Delight” as Vila might say:

    Blake: Jamie Bamber (BSG, Horatio Hornblower)

    Avon: Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks/MI:5)

    Vila: David Tennant (Doctor Who)

    Gan: Anthony Simcoe (Farscape, The Castle)

    Jenna: Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)

    Cally: Eliza Dushku (Angel,Buffy,My Dreams,Etc.)

    Zen: Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy,Coffee Ads, Etc.)

    Orac: Hugh Laurie (House, MI:5/Spooks)

    Slave: Michael Keating (Original Blake’s 7: Vila)

    Tarrant: Ben Browder (Farscape….Yeah, Im a Homer)

    Dayna: Rachel True (The Craft, With Or Without You)

    Soolin: Allison Mack (Smallville)

    Servalan/Sleer: Claudia Black (Farscape)
    ~I Think She Would RULE In This Role !!!!~

    Anna Grant: Keeley Hawes ;)
    ~Make The Role Bigger, Advising Servelan.~

    Travis: Peter Krause (Sports Night, The Lost Room)

    Federation President Mellanby: Tucker Smallwood
    ~Dayna’s Dad Is The President….Think Of The Drama~

    This Was Fun,Many Thanks For Reading This Far Down.
    More Later If Y’all Like….

  • Jock

    Actually, a remake may be “in the making”.

    My friend – a script writer – is in discussion with the BBC about it. He’s borrowed my Blake’s 7 DVD collection to research the characters.

    Let’s just hope that, if it comes to fruition, they don’t go for the cast suggestions of MaryAnn or Todd McLean – both are dire.

  • “Let’s just hope that, if it comes to fruition, they don’t go for the cast suggestions of MaryAnn or Todd McLean – both are dire.”

    *dire*!? really, dude? what’s your suggestion then?

  • MaryAnn

    as I think Im the only one who was born in America to have seen all 52 episodes of Blake’s 7.

    I’ve seen ’em all, too, and I was born in the Bronx.

  • Mark

    as I think Im the only one who was born in America to have seen all 52 episodes of Blake’s 7.

    I’ve seen them all too … many of them when they originally aired.

  • Muzz

    Just chiming in late. Regarding the later series’ comparison; Farscape is a much better fit than Firefly for my money, even if the premise is quite different initially. In later series they’re all barking mad. In Firefly there’s really only Jane you have to worry about (or River freaking out). Farscape even have a living ship that’s somewhat mysterious.

    I barely remember the original in any detail. Except Avon and Servalan. Can never forget those two.
    I can’t see Christopher Eccelstein being the right sort of magnificent bastard for Avon. Not that he’s short of ability. I guess it doesn’t have to be one-to-one. His closest scene dominating role that I can think of along those lines is his appearance in The League of Gentlemen as a cat-like theatre proprieter (I think that was it). And he was actually smirking away like an evil Tom Baker, which is cool.
    If the age thing isn’t a problem I’d go for Ian McShane.

  • Colin

    Some of these have already been suggested, and some I can’t improve on the OP, but here’s my ideal mix:

    Roj Blake – Clive Owen
    Kerr Avon: Christopher Eccleston
    Jenna Stannis: Keira Knightley
    Vila Restal: Martin Freeman
    Cally: Cate Blanchett
    Olag Gan: Ray Winstone
    Del Tarrant: JR Bourne (Martouf from SG-1)
    Dayna Mellanby: Freema Agyeman
    Soolin: Billie Piper
    Orac/Zen/Slave: Stephen Fry
    Servalan: Tilda Swinton
    Space Commander Travis: Gerald Butler

  • Todd McLean

    My apologies if I offended anyone…. it just seemed as I scrolled down that I was the only one on this side of the pond who had seen all of Blake’s Seven.
    I guess I failed this portion of the reading comprehension test for the day.

    I guess Im just a bit jaded when it comes to Blakes 7. The series only ran twice in Georgia when I was 15/16, and once when I was bit older up here in Minneapolis.

    Whenever I mention B7 in the tightest or most seemingly knowledgeable of Sci-fi circles around here…. I tend to get this “stunned mullet” look from about 99.9 % of people. Then again, I was writing on a Blakes 7 thread…. perhaps I should be a little more optimistic about the fan base here in the States. So again, Im sorry if I upset any fans here who saw all 52 episodes here in the US.
    Actually, its nice to know that the series was seen in its entirety by more than just my two eyeballs here in the States. :)

    As for whomever suggested my casting suggesting were “dire”?

    World War Two was Dire. Whats going on in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan currently is Dire. This…. Not So Much.

    Besides, its all too easy to mock the work of others from the anonymity of the internet…. especially when you dont bother to offer any opinions or solutions of your own.

    Still, I do hope my ideas provided you and your “script writing friend” hours of entertainment, thus fueling the innate ability of perfection from your richly deserved pedestals of intellectual superiority.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I must urgently attend to my sarcasm detector…. its seems to have exploded for some odd reason.

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