The Keeper

Written by:
Allan Prior
Directed by: Derek Martinus
Episode Length: 51’18
Original UK Transmission Date: 27/3/1979
Original UK Ratings: 7.0m
Original UK Chart Position: 70

DVD Availability: Try or Amazon

Starring: Gareth Thomas (Blake), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Paul Darrow (Avon), Jan Chappell (Cally), Michael Keating (Vila) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Zen).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Brian Croucher (Travis), Bruce Purchase (Gola), Freda Jackson (Tara), Shaun Curry (Rod), Cengiz Shaner (Fool), Arthur Hewlett (Old Man) and Ron Tarr (Patrol Leader).

Crew: Stuart Fell (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Jackie Willows/Pauline Smithson (Production Assistants), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Mat Irvine/Peter Pegrum/Andrew Lazell (Visual Effects Designers), Max Samett/Paul Godfrey (Film Cameramen), John Gatland (Film Recordist), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Malcolm Johnson (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), A.J. Mitchell (Electronic Effects), Barbara Kidd (Costume Designer), Anne Ailes (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Eric Walmsley (Designer) and David Maloney (Producer).

Story: The Liberator travels to the planet Goth, a planet with a virtually uninhabitable surface full of noxious sulphur gases. Underground they discover a tribe, lead by Gola, who is Shahl (tribe leader) after he and his brother Rod deposed their father and imprisoned him. They also have a sister, Tara, who has some “mystical” powers, which could arguably be advanced hypnotism. A scene is shown where she stares into Jenna’s eyes and Jenna is unable to move her arm. Jenna is prepared as Gola’s “pair bond partner”, but he is killed by his brother. Amidst the confusion, Blake, Jenna and Vila talk to Gola’s jailed “fool”, who has the secret of Star One imprinted on his brain and automatically recited upon hearing the phrase “A fool knows everything and nothing.” Left aboard the Liberator, Avon has destroyed a Federation ship, which he mistakenly believed contained Travis. However, when Servalan’s ship, with Travis piloting, was just out of range, Cally forbid him to destroy it as it would mean moving out of teleport range. When Blake returns to the Liberator, Avon notes that “Another few seconds and I would have left you, Blake.”

Star One: Star One is revealed to exist at grid reference C17320 in the 11th sector. It is described as controlling the climate on more than 200 worlds, along with communication, security and food production. Avon suggests to Blake that instead of destroying it, they use it to rule the Federation, but Blake argues that the power would be too much of a responsibility.

The Liberator: The Liberator has an extra range detector, which Cally claims “puts a heavy drain on the energy banks.”

Jenna: Jenna is cited The Game, this shot taken from its appearance in the third season story 'Children of Auron'by Servalan as a “superior grade citizen of the Federation. Her IQ is very high.” (This information is imparted to Gola, so we can assume she is telling Gola that her grade is superior to his, not necessarily her own).

Game: Gola and Jenna play a game on a triangular board with 64 spaces (28 yellow, 20 red and 16 green), with two sets of pyramids pieces; red and green. The same game would be played again in both Children of Auron and Sarcophagus, including a third colour set of pieces, yellow.

“I have no objection to shooting him in the back.”

And so season two begins to draw to a close. It’s a season I find is greatly improved by watching the episodes in sequence, as it contains the series’ most widely developed (yet still quite discrete) arc plot. This makes the stories greater than the sum of their parts, because it also has to be said some individual episodes aren’t terribly good. In fact, after the superb Trial, the series presents us with six solid weeks of shaky adventures, including this one.

Another Allan Dire script, it pitches very set-looking sets against Croucher’s vastly deteriorated take on Travis. It also features a race of Goths, who are not ashen-faced Art ‘A’ Level students with dyed black hair but yet more RADA-accented cavemen. The interminable stunt fights amongst them reminded me of season four - this is clearly not a good thing. I was surprised to see a season two episode where Jenna is actually a member of the away team, so it’s little wonder then that she’s captured and cited as a possible sex slave. Bruce Purchase does his best sub-sub-sub-Blessed routine, while the microscopic plot doesn’t justify the fifty minutes of television. “Who is the keeper?” God, just tell us already and let’s go and have a curry. This could have been ten minutes long and you’d lose nothing. And as for that mad old cow laughing her head off like a bad amateur dramatics night in Wolverhampton - I ask you!

There are some interesting discussions on the nature of power and how it can be exploited, but generally this is just a tedious primary plot, with a secondary one that sees Avon and Cally sitting doing nothing on the Liberator. (Or standing doing nothing if you want to be pedantic). The scene where an underused Vila is carried off screaming is demeaning and lacking in any form of sophistication, while Gareth Thomas - the show’s star, lest we forget - is designated to being locked in a cell.

“You will pair bond with me, whether you like it or not.” Well, it’s nice to know that Allan Prior saw implied rape as an acceptable form of entertainment.