The Sevenfold Crown

Written by:
Barry Letts
Directed by: Brian Lighthill
Episode Length: 98'49
Original UK Transmission Date: 19/1/1998
Availability: Try Amazon

Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Paula Wilcox (Soolin), Angela Bruce (Dayna) and Peter Tuddenham (Slave/Orac).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Pip Donaghy (King Gheblakon), Janet Dale (Jelka), Christian Rodska (Dr Kapple), Graham Padden (Vledka) and Simon Carter/Kim Durham/Cornelius Garrett/Susan Jeffrey/Katherine Mount/Rob Swinton (Unspecified Roles).

Crew: Dudley Simpson (Original Signature), Jeff Mearns (Incidental Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser) and Brian Lighthill (Producer).

Trivia: The Sevenfold Crown was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4

The cassette release of the story claims to have additional material previously untransmitted, though I must shamefully dock myself 5000 Anorak Points by not knowing what they are... sorry!

The double tape release also features 8'35m of interviews with the cast. Introduced by Brian Lighthill, he holds chats with Paul Darrow (2'51m), Michael Keating (1'39m), Jacqueline Pearce (1'17m), Steven Pacey (1'03m) and Peter Tuddenham (1'45m). The interviews are very brief, with Pacey's probably the most interesting. Good-naturedly (?) ribbing the show and his character, he questions of Tarrant "What personality?" and suggests "Amazement" is what he thinks of the show today.

The story and the extra interviews were released on CD for the very first time in October 2004. In a boxset that matched the DVD design, it was included with The Syndeton Experiment and extracts from Zen and the Art of Blake's 7. Should you care, the chapter lengths for the story were: 3'06m, 1'42m, 3'20m, 2'28m, 2'19m, 1'52m, 2'01m, 1'36m, 2'56m, 4'16m, 2'54m, 3'04m, 2'50m, 2'25m, 2'35m, 1'25m, 2'04m, 1'18m, 3'21m, 2'44m, 2'41m, 3'14m, 3'03m, 2'50m, 2'59m, 2'56m, 2'27m, 2'56m, 4'26m, 2'28m, 2'44m, 2'37m, 3'12m, 3'19m, 3'40m and 2'51m. All of the thirty-five chapters remain nameless, as did those of The Syndeton Experiment for the 2004 rerelease.

Story: After narrowly escaping a Federation vessel, Avon realises he needs greater energy cells to power the Stardrive. He plans to raid Servalan's base on Pherno, both for cells, and also because he is troubled by a nightmare involving her, which he feels was induced.
Tarrant and Dayna obtain some Zamazuki mark 5A 3500K energy cells (the new Stardrive is "rated no higher than 1400" according to Slave), though Avon's fears are founded by hallucinations on the planet's surface. There they overhear Servalan learning of the diadem of King Gheblakon, which will enhance her psychic ability. She already has one stone from the diadem, and shows her ability to mentally control Avon. Avon and Vila are teleported back aboard Scorpio, where Vila has stolen a map of Servalan's destination. They arrive before her on Terella, the "holiday planet".
After misfortunes on the planet, with Tarrant being tortured, the overloaded teleport malfunctioning and Vila sentenced to hanging, they eventually take the diadem by force. However, Servalan takes the trapped Vila's bracelet and teleports aboard Scorpio, demanding the diadem in return for Vila's life. Avon isn't convinced, but the others are, and so he reluctantly hands the diadem over. However, he claims he has a larger plan - the diadem can only become truly powerful by being placed in the Sevenfold Crown, which resides at co-ordinates 7342 1535 2649 5473.
They travel to the location, hoping to take the Crown off Servalan the second she places the diadem within it. However, as she does so, the Crown's original owners - bodiless creatures known as the Divani - turn against her, bringing the Crown's chamber crashing to the ground. Avon finds that a freak malfunction in the teleport has created an exact duplicate of him, the duplicate of which uses the Crown to stem the damage until they can all get away. When Scorpio leaves orbit, the unnamed planet implodes and Avon wishes a telepathic farewell to his "brother".

Avon: Avon states that he trained himself to "ignore pain many years ago."

Vila: Vila claims he used to be a "dab hand" at the drums in the Federation, which seems unlikely. Also doubtful is his assertion that his mother used to make jam roly-poly, which is unlikely considering he's an orphan. Maybe he's just a compulsive liar? Orac claims that Vila is actually more intelligent than Avon.

Tarrant: Tarrant had a Zamazuki Flivercopter when he was seventeen.

Terella: The planet (and possibly the rest of the universe, it's not specified) uses the currency "Trid".

The Federation: It takes forty seconds for a Federation ship to jump into hyperspace.

"Piles of garbage."

I actually first heard this after its follow-up, The Syndeton Experiment. It doesn't inspire such a lengthy review, so it's simpler just to say this: what Syndeton did right, this does wrong. A lame script, with chronic Letts dialogue ("Next time we'll be sitting on a duck pond waiting for a torpedo up our tail feathers."), performances that range from the over-the-top (Donaghy, Darrow, Pearce) to the plain amateurish (Wilcox, Bruce).

This really is a dire cacophony of noise, with a cheesy plot that doesn't work in the B7 universe, and a subplot that blatantly riffs on the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within. Gone is the depth, the politics, the characterisation. Vila gets no funny lines ("Did you forget to have a shower this morning or have I trodden in something?" is just pathetic), while the whole exercise is so asinine it's scarcely worth bothering with. The quest plot does nothing, goes nowhere, and ends so contrivedly that even Jon Pertwee would have complained. Thankfully they did give it another go, as Syndeton is reasonably worthwhile. This, though, lives up to its extremely negative reputation. I wanted to go against the grain of 99% of fans who hate it, but I couldn't. It's rubbish.