I found this original BBC press release while exploring the Lysator archives. It was republished in a Marvel UK B7 poster magazine in December 1994, and posted to Lysator by Barney Shergold.
I find it extraordinary that B7 was touted as family viewing when the very first episode has Blake being framed on child molestation charges. Of course, it's pretty obvious this was an advance release, and many things changed between it and the series as broadcast.
A NEW AND MAJOR BBC TELEVISION SERIES OF SPACE ADVENTURE.
A first series of thirteen episodes is already in
pre-production and principal shooting will begin in September. It is hoped to
transmit the first episode in early 1978. The special aim of the series is to
provide family viewing and it is designed to appeal to a very large audience in
a wide age group.
Terry Nation, one of Britain's leading television authors and
the man who created the Daleks, has conceived and written the series. It
will be produced by David Maloney, with vast television experience and a
distinguished career as a director. He has, amongst his many credits, directed a
large number of the most successful episodes of Dr Who.
Toy manufacturers, publishers and product advertisers have already responded to the series with great enthusiasm and a huge range of merchandise is planned for release to coincide with the programme's launch.
A SPACE ADVENTURE SERIES OF THE FUTURE.
It is set in the third century of the second calendar. Space travel is routine and many planets in the Sun Galaxy and beyond have been colonised.
The planets are politically and economically linked in a Federation. Their peoples are ruled from Earth by a ruthless totalitarian regime.
Roj Blake is a man who once challenged the regime. As a punishment he was subjected to a memory erasure and re-programming in Administration hospitals. But whilst Blake remembered nothing, there were many who remembered him. His name would always be associated with the freedom movement.
Some years later Blake became unwittingly involved with a subversive group. His connection discovered, he was arrested. Eager that he should not be seen as a martyr, the Administration framed him on charges that would totally discredit him. He was tried and found guilty by the Justice Computer. His sentence: transportation and life imprisonment on the penal planet Cygnus Alpha, a Devil's Island in space.
On the prison ship that transports Blake to Cygnus Alpha his fellow prisoners are the worst of society's misfits. Thieves, murderers, smugglers, embezzlers, weapons runners and extortionists. They have only one thing in common: the desire to escape.
During the long voyage, Blake organises the prisoners in a plan to take over the ship. The mutiny fails, but ultimately leads to Blake's escape and the finding of an abandoned but fully operational space craft. The ship is of unknown origin. Certainly it was not manufactured in any of the known galaxies. Its design and performance are light years ahead of the most advanced technology. A truly magnificent space ship that ultimately becomes one of the major stars of the series.
Blake rescues a crew from his fellow prisoners. They are briefly grateful to Blake but reluctant to operate under his command. They do not take happily to working as a team. They are individuals and each has an individual criminal talent. None of them has a burning loyalty to Blake, and it is only his strength of will that binds them together. The natural inclination of the criminals is to use the superb space craft to raid and loot. Blake on the on the hand is determined to use Liberator in his continuing fight against the Federation.
This frail alliance is fortified by one other external factor. The knowledge that the Federation will continue to hunt them. Each of them is marked for extermination.
Space Colonel Travis of Federation Security has been appointed to 'locate and destroy' Blake and his group. With his flight of three pursuit ships and his team of androids, Travis is determined to track them to the edge of the Universe if he must. His shadow is always on their shoulder. This then is the background to Blake's Seven. Fugitives in space. Driven to run into distant galaxies where they encounter strange races and situations. Attackers too, taking every chance to hit and run where they can do damage to the Federation.
Each week we will tell the story of one of those adventures. It is a series of limitless scope and has the potential of being one of television's most durable long runners.
THE PEOPLE AND THE HARDWARE
Blake's Seven are:
BLAKE: Cast in the classic hero mould. Dedicated to the destruction of the Federation. He has the personality and will to hold his crew together. His is the determination that takes them into and safely out of a thousand adventures.
JENNA: That she happens to be stunningly beautiful is not what qualifies her for a place in the crew. As an inter-planetary smuggler she learned to be one of the best spacecraft pilots in the business.
AVON: A technology man who is close to genius. But a flawed genius who programmed computers to rob the Federation banking system of hundreds of millions.
GAN: A man of enormous physical strength. He saw his home planet Zephron destroyed by the Federation. In its defence he killed several of the raiders. He has a 'limiter' implanted in his brain that stops him from being able to kill again.
VILA: A thief. No locking device in the universe is proof against his skills. A master of sleight of hand and a happy self-confessed coward.
CALLY: An incredibly beautiful girl from the planet Saurian Major. She is telepathic. Her disregard for her own life frequently places her companions in still greater danger.
And the seventh?
ZEN: The speaking computer that controls all the systems on the great space ship. A machine that becomes almost human and is Blake's ever-ready and willing servant.
A very essential feature of the series will be the specially designed equipment. Starting with the space ship itself and going through weapons; hand guns; laser swords; communications; teleport bracelets; utility belts (a power pack fixed to a belt and from which numerous gadgets can be operated); survival kits; locators and so on. New equipment will appear in almost every episode of the series.
On board the Liberator is a teleport section; a flight deck and a space laboratory. Surface vehicles are stored on board. There are space capsules for limited space travel. In short, there is no limit to the product range that can be genuinely attributed to Blake's Seven.
There is little doubt that Blake's Seven will be the mass audience series of '78 - 79. Excitement about the series is already mounting and the national press have featured it widely. We predict that Blake's Seven will create a major impact and will be on our screens for a long time to come.
Hmm. So this is where the idea that Gan comes from Zephron originated, though I note that Cally is meant to be a native of Saurian Major. I assume they abandoned the idea of laser swords after someone saw Star Wars.
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