In April 2003 Chris Boucher kindly agreed to give up some of his time to do an interview about the series. As Chris had already given an interview to The Anorak Zone about Star Cops, this goes to show what a nice and helpful man he is. The script-editor of all four seasons of Blake's 7, as well as writer of nine of its episodes, I hope you find what he had to say interesting reading...


I saw the series for the first time very recently and was amazed at how well it's stood up to modern appeal. I think it's because they're strong stories with identifiable characters. Yet the main difference between the series and if it was made today is not the effects, but how middle-class it all is. What do you think a gritty, working-class version of Blake's 7 would be like?

I have no idea. I really never thought of the show itself in distinct class terms. It did strike me from time to time that television production, film production, and the acting profession were all very much dominated by the middle-classes (so no change there then). And I was mildly surprised to find that, as with most businesses and professions, it was very much a family trade. As to the show, well nothing dates so fast as science fiction (unless it's every other damn thing you can think of) and to offset this it is usually wise to try and make the world of your storytelling as self-contained and self-sufficient as possible. Gritty and working class tends to be location and time specific. I hope that witty dialogue and interesting adventures are classless. Nothing is of course but there's not much wrong with a little hope is there, even for a working class lad like me…

On a similar note, around the same time as Blake's 7 you were creating the proactive female companion Leela for Doctor Who. Yet ironically, in Blake - the second season particularly - the women seemed to be there for little more than operating the teleport. Was there a general consensus that the male characters had a more interesting dynamic?

There may have been an element of that but I don't think it was particularly strong. In a series there's an almost unconscious feedback process - actors who learn their lines and do them the way they were written with the minimum amount of pissing and whinging tend over time to get more of the action. It's not exactly deliberate, it's just that they are more fun to write for. I think there may have been element of that too. Finally you have to remember there was a limited amount of time available in any particular episode for any particular character. In series terms there was sometimes a trade-off: one strong episode meant several weak ones…

Most of the biggest myths seem to be based around Terry Nation. There's rumours that he wrote a film screenplay during the first and second seasons, and also that he planned to have the Daleks appear as villains in the show. Would you be aware of how accurate such stories are?

Terry did once tentatively suggest that there might be a Dalek cross-over. We stamped on that idea very firmly. Hard-pressed as he was to do the work he was contracted for I doubt whether he had the time to produce a film screenplay, even a skimpy one. And Terry was a pro, I doubt whether he would have put in that sort of work unless someone had come up with money.

I remember reading a review (in SFX) where you slated your own episode, Weapon. (Personally, I was entertained by it, and the "clones from a cult" plot is now more topical than ever). What proportion of stories were ones you wanted to write, and ones you had to as contractual obligation? So many had depth of feeling in them (Rumours of Death, Blake...) with only Rescue, to me, coming across as one you had to write to fulfil the plot.

As a script I liked Weapon, I thought it was one of my better efforts. I hated what GSF did to it. I found it very easy to write for Blake's 7 and I would have been happy to write more episodes. Given how well I knew the characters and the show there would have been something wrong with me as a writer if I hadn't felt like that. Incidentally Rescue, like a number of the early episodes in series four, was rather abruptly complicated by Jan Chappell's late decision not to do the series.

Staying with Rescue, and this is a very sad question, but why was Cally's last word "Blake"? I always had her down as having a soft spot for Avon...

Jan took a lot of persuading to contribute even one word to the episode. Blake was the reason everyone was where they were and where they ended up. Blake seemed the appropriate death cry. As a general point by the way, I set my face against romantic involvements between principals - if that's what you mean by "soft spot". So no, no soft spots…

I noticed that with season four there was a greater reliance on visual humour and wordplay, and Tarrant's aggression had been drastically toned down. Was there pressure from the BBC to make the final season a more "family-oriented" one?

Not that I can remember. It may have been Vere's influence though. I have a vague memory of him suggesting that he didn't like it when the programme got too hard and depressing. But it is a vague recollection and it may be wrong.

There has been much speculation as to why Servalan wasn't in the final episode. Jacqueline Pearce has said in interviews that her time with both cast and crew in season four made it her least favourite season to work on, and Paul Darrow remarked that she'd become too outspoken, with some dubbing the decision "Boucher's Revenge". Was there a time during season four that you felt the character had really run its course?

There was certainly no element of Boucher's Revenge. As far as I remember we had used up Jacqui's contracted episodes by the end and I was told I couldn't have her in the final episode. There were all sorts of negotiations to which I was not privy - it may be that this was one of them. When you've used up an actor's contracted appearances they are obviously free to say no and/or to negotiate a new fee for any more appearances. Budgets are pretty restricted on shows like B7 and by the time you get towards the end of a series there is very little slack and not much patience left…

There's always speculation as to what season five would have contained. Did you have any concrete plans for the season, and, on reflection, are you glad it wasn't made, with Blake being a fitting end?

No there were never any concrete plans until any particular season was given the go-ahead. I thought Blake was quite a good ending though I wouldn't have minded going on.

Post-series, it's always surprised me that with the continued interest in the programme, there hasn't been a series of original novels (other than Afterlife), like with other genre shows. If there was, would you take part? What would your ideas be?

I would be happy to take part but it would depend on the money. It always depends on the money otherwise it's just a hobby. I've got enough hobbies to be going on with. I have no idea what my ideas would be - it would depend on...

After the two radio stories, there's a new attempt to begin a fresh series, with a triumviate including Paul Darrow. The follow-on series is planned to only resurrect Avon, with one of the people behind the project telling me that they planned to make a clear distinction at all times between "the new series" and "the old show", and scarcely feature the original show on their website. How did you feel that they didn't approach anyone (save Paul) who'd actually worked on the series before?

Initially my feelings were a bit hurt and professionally I felt somewhat slighted. I got a bit paranoid figuring that Terry hated me and I was probably on some sort of Nation estate blacklist. Then I got a grip and remembered that I'm really not that important. I also realised that the radio stuff wasn't very good and the TV stuff was unlikely to happen and I confess I felt better. Mean spirited or what?

Interview copyright AnorakZone.com/Chris Boucher, 2003. Huge thanks once again to Mr.Boucher for giving his time for this interview.