15/04/2016

Gareth Thomas


Two years playing the lead in Blake’s Seven ensured Gareth Thomas’ fame but obscured his more varied career across a range of genres. "I think of it both as a milestone and a millstone in my career" he once said about the role with which he is most associated.  A RADA graduate, he was both an acclaimed stage actor including appearing in a number of Royal Shakespeare Company productions and was also nominated twice for a BAFTA. Amongst his theatre work he appeared in RSC productions of Twelfth Night, King Lear, As You Like It, Othello and Anna Christie. Other stage roles included HenryIV, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Equus and The Crucible. As recently as 2010 he received great reviews for his performance n Desire Under The Elms at the New Vic Theatre.

He made his television debut in 1965 and since then appeared in countless series often in memorable guest roles including Coronation Street, Z Cars, The Avengers, 8 episodes as Alec Duthie in Scottish legal drama Sutherland’s Law, Special Branch, Bergerac, Taggart, Sherlock Holmes , Midsomer Murders, 11 episodes of Distant Shores.  He had a recurring role in London’s Burning at a time when his career was in decline after he moved to Scotland.  He played Rev Gruffyd in six episodes of the mid 1070s version of How Green Was My Valley. BAFTA nominations came for his roles in a 1973 Play for Today Stocker’s Copper and in 1984 for Morgan’s Boy.
 
Considering how he often seemed to want to avoid telefantasy he did appear in several high profile roles in that genre including 1977’s Children of the Stones in which he gave his character Adam Brake a believable relationship with his son and he also starred in the rather camp production Star Maidens as well as appearing much later in an episode of Torchwood.
Inevitably though he is best remembered for Blake’s Seven to which he brought a gravitas that ensured the series maintained credibility when it could so easily have been just another wobbly sci fi drama. It’s easy to see why he was attracted to the role and the early episodes certainly give him some dramatic scope to work with. For that  era Roj Blake was a much more haunted yet principled character type you would only expect to see in more modern shows. His clashes with the more amoral Avon proved to be the highlight of the series.  He left after two seasons and the series lost something when he did.
He was once asked what it was like to be the leading man in a tv sci-fi series and said: “It is a bit like farce. It's real people in unreal situations.” Whatever the role it was this ability to become a convincing, real person that Gareth Thomas brought to the table and that’s a talent that enhances any production. 

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