While Doctor Who has returned triumphantly to our screens in the last few years, BBC stable mate Blake’s 7 has eyed it enviously from the sidelines, seemingly doomed to languish forever on the cusp, never quite escaping development hell. Now, however, Martin Campbell and indie US telly outlet Georgeville Television are putting together an updated version for American screens.
Created in 1978 by Terry Nation (the man who also birthed the concept of Who’s Daleks), Blake’s was a much more dystopian look at space exploration than either Doctor Who or Star Trek, which it resembled.
Our heroes are a group of renegades against the totalitarian Terran Federation “led” (as well as he could given the problems of keeping the team together) by Blake (Gareth Thomas). As they pilot their alien spaceship and attempt to escape the clutches of their enemies, they encounter various planets and cultures. Blake’s 7 ran for four series between 1978 and 1981 and has since lived on in books and audio adventures. Various remakes and reboots have been mooted over the years, but nothing solid has ever hit screens.
Now Campbell and Heroes / CSI veteran Joe Pokaski are collaborating on a reimagining of the original series, with Campbell attached to make the pilot and Pokaski on script duties. No US network is attached just yet, but it appears to have a better chance than other efforts.
We’re torn about this one. Part of what made Blake’s 7 great was its ambition and the attempt to bring in more of the darkness inherent in British sci-fi to an adventure serial. But the low-budget charm also made it appealing. And while Campbell has proven (twice) with Bond that he’s good at bringing older stories to life in a new way, his last attempt at an intergalactic tale led to Green Lantern. Finally, can US broadcast networks accept something as dark as Blake’s needs to be to feel authentic? Battlestar Galactica suggests that they might, but watch this space to see...