Blakewatch - Week 23: Voices from the Past

There are 52 episodes of Blake’s 7 and 52 weeks in the year.....

This week: Season Two Episode 10- Voices from the Past
(1979) Writer: Roger Parkes / Director: George Spenton Foster
Blake is hearing voices in his head that seem to relate to his tria and which will him to take the Liberator to meet lost rebel Shivan who has enlisted the help of a Federation governer and others to present the truth to Federation delegates at a conference.

When they tried this sort of thing with Gan the results were mixed, here Gareth Thomas proves to be a reasonably good `voices in my head making me go crazy` actor though you might initially put his condition down to the silly yoga Cally is making them all do at the start. What unfurls is something more nuanced than `Breakdown`; with Blake’s past catching up with him in different ways. In his first story for the series, Roger Parkes devises something a little too talky to tell easily in this form whereas as a novel one suspects the story would come across better.

Huzzah! Abba are back!

However, there is much to be admired about the episode. Acting from all the regulars is top class and each has something to do this week too. Blake’s easy manipulation of Vila is a highpoint- Thomas easily slipping into a villainous tone as the writer keeps us guessing as to what is going on. Parkes’ understanding of the dynamics of revolutionaries and how sometimes they must engage with politics is put over succinctly.

The references to the opening season 1 episode `The Way Back`  and the presence of Van Glynd (albeit played by a different actor) will keep long term fans tingling though the appearance of long lost rebel Shivan just looks a bit too odd to be convincing. If he was really that ailing would he really be able to get about? How many people guessed who it really was though? Probably less than you think.

At first it seems if this is going to be one of those `bottle` shows with all the action taking place in standing sets but we do eventually move to other areas including a slightly incongruous and not in the least but futuristic looking arena. To be fair, director George Spenton Foster does his best to disguise the location though cannot make the false looking, though thankfully briefly seem, asteroid surface seem in any way convincing.

The main way the story falls short is that, yet again, it is too obvious a trap. Nobody seems to have bothered checking Shivan’s authenticity, while the mind control thing is rather convoluted and convenient way to have Blake behaving irrationally yet seemingly able to talk genuinely about matters. The idea that he forgets the whole thing seems to have been put at the end because the 47 minutes were up.

Van Glynd is played by Richard Bebb; in the season 1 opener `The Way Back` he was played by Robert James.

The bit in the conference was filmed at the Wembley Conference Centre.

"Oh, it's not a fancy dress party"

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