Largely unrelated from any of the other Blake's 7 magazine releases these two warranted their own entry as they're well made and very regarded.
Let's start with the Winter Special, sometimes credited as "1995", but actually arriving in shops for December the previous year. For a magazine then it's pretty much essential, being ostensibly an extended "Archive" of the series by Andrew Pixley. Okay, as he's got to do all 52 episodes in just 24 pages then it's brief, and I always personally find this kind of factual listing very cold and dry. That said, with the dates, times, durations and even the uncredited cast lists, then it was rewarding at the time, even though much of this information has since been recorded in the Liberation book from Telos publishing. What else? Well, there's eleven full-page, full-colour photographs of the cast, which reflect the high quality of the design, although it's a shame Steven Pacey's photo wasn't more in focus. There's also Blockade, a decent eight-page comic strip by Gareth Roberts and illustrated by Martin Geraghty. Finally, filling up the remainder is a page on the written word of Blake's 7, which is so brief as to be no use to anybody, and a reproduction of Vere Lorrimer's lyrics for a proposed theme song. This perhaps perfectly highlights the somewhat humourless tone of the special, as a new producer making the theme into a song to be sung by Steven Pacey (Sample lyric: "That's where we must fly - And let the world go by - Just you and I.") was just asking to have the piss ripped out of him. Yet the special opts to claim "Unfortunately, his plans did not see fruition", which leaves you scratching your head in bemusement…
Finally, there's the Summer Special, which has to be the best officially licensed magazine published on Blake's 7 and, to date, the last. While essentially these magazines have no relation to each other, the same editor/chief writer/publishing house are behind them, and many of the same names worked on them and the poster magazine. For references' sake, then the Winter Special came out first, followed by the seven issues of the poster magazine, then this.
Covering each season in 12 pages, it's a more generalised write-up than the Winter Special, focussing on chattier descriptions ("Unhappy with the role of being a computer expert, Michael Keating was far happier to play the thief.") rather than the somewhat starch former special. Occasional photos show the limited source of images from the series (such as page 26), though generally this is nicely laid out and presented, even if not quite achieving the design peaks that the Winter Special/Poster Magazine reached. For those curious, then there are 37 colour photographs and 19 b & w ones, as well as a cover collage and 12 screen shots from the title sequences. (For that matter, the Winter Special contains 64 colour photos, 2 black and white ones and an illustrated cover by Colin Howard).
There's some stuff in there that's new (did you know, for example, that the allocated budget for the first season would have averaged at just under £57,700 per episode?) and the write-up on the various script and production block changes in season two is particularly worthwhile. Mild disappointments only come in the somewhat trite mini-summaries for each episode, or the detailing of Blake, which reinforces the myth that Schizophrenia is a split personality disorder.
With the majority of the text in both specials being written by Andrew Pixley (uncredited in the Summer Special), I asked him about the nature of the writing. He described them as "effectively a few elements lifted from the text of The Complete Blake's 7". A proposed book to be published under the Virgin label, the possibility of legal rights issues caused Andrew and his co-author Neil Alsop to withdraw. In his words, most of the material was "cannibalised", finding its way into these specials in a truncated form, as well as TV Zone articles and some pieces in The Poster Magazine. The basis of it also informed Kevin Davies's documentary The Making of Blake's 7, which was due to appear on the DVDs. As Andrew himself said, "Waste not, want not…"