Blake’s 7 – A Rebellion Reborn is a series of Blake’s 7 adventures by b7media recorded between 2007-2010 and released in a collected set by Big Finish in 2013 as a 10-CD box-set comprising Blake’s 7 – The Audio Adventures and Blake’s 7 – The Early Years. The idea of recasting a well-known series is something that rarely sits well with me, and it’s taken me two years since purchasing to start listening to this set. It may have been longer if I hadn’t started listening to Big Finish‘s full-cast audio adventures of Blake’s 7 with the original cast.
The first adventure of Blake’s 7 – The Audio Adventures, entitled Rebel, retells the origin of the series. Revisiting the origin is a tricky task because this was something covered quite extensively in the TV series.
The first half-hour of this one-hour episode effectively retreads the first episode of the TV series in which Blake, a rebel against the Federation, is captured and discredited before being found guilty of heinous crimes and sent to the prison planet of Cygnus Alpha. It covers the discovery and capture of the Liberator.
This version of the story omits some significant parts of the original, not least of which is Blake meeting fellow prisoners who would become his crew prior to the encounter with the Liberator. As such, it omits his attempted failed takeover of the prison barge. Instead, Blake is awoken from suspended animation on the prison ship only once the Liberator is encountered. His skills as an engineer are the reason he’s chosen, and not for any other reason. He only meets Avon and Jenna when they, too, are revived to help with the mission.
Blake, Jenna, and Avon sent to secure the Liberator with two guards. Despite being told that the guards aren’t permitted to leave the prison ship, and also being told that they don’t have enough crew to spare, they still find two guards to go with them. Nevertheless, sending guards with control over the prisoners’ neck restraints does make sense. Blake encourages Avon to help overthrow their guards once on the Liberator, and it’s this that fails when Jenna is held hostage (in the way the other prisoners were all held hostage on the TV episode). This gives us a similar, albeit lesser, “surrender” moment.
The Liberator has a vast number of varied “self-repair robots” which the crew apparently see, and run into trouble with, which is different to the TV series. Except for these differences, and the inclusion of Travis under Servalan’s thumb, the story is virtually the same.
The vocal tasks are handled by Derek Riddell (Blake), Colin Salmon (Avon), Daniela Nardini (Servalan), Craig Kelly (Travis), and Carrie Dobro (Jenna), and others. Colin Salmon’s tremendous voice could have been better used than as Avon. You certainly miss Paul Darrow’s not-so-subtle delivery, although Colin Salmon makes the best at conveying the same. Riddell plays Blake with an accent (making you miss Gareth Thomas), which conveys a similar “ordinary man becomes resistance leader” normality to that which Gareth Thomas gave us. Daniela Nardini serves up a fairly bland Servalan, but this may be on purpose as Servalan rises through the ranks.
It’s difficult to make a full judgement at this early stage. There’s no doubt that Rebel is a good listen but, if you’ve seen the original televised episode, you’ll wonder why you’re listening to it at all. The TV series does as good a job, if not better, than this audio version. However, this is the start of a series of adventures and so it does make sense to start at the beginning with the cast that will be continuing the series.
The series continues with Traitor.