In order to celebrate the release of Blakes 7's third season on DVD in June 2005, I arranged an interview with Trevor Hoyle, one of the season's authors. As well as writing Ultraworld, Trevor also authored three novelisations of the programme that were published while the series was still being originally broadcast...

When you wrote the first Blake's 7 novelisation you were already an established author with eight original novels to your name. What was it that appealed to you when taking on the project?

An editor I'd worked with on my own SF series (the Q trilogy) called Nick Austin asked me to write the first B7 novel for Sphere books. So partly as a favour to him and also (of course) for the money, I accepted. I think the deadline was 6-8 weeks.

The first novel was written before the series had been filmed - do you know exactly how far along the drafts you were working from were, and how much of it was your own invention?

Can't answer the first part - I didn't know how many drafts Terry Nation had produced and which ones (ie, earlier or later drafts) I was given to work from. (Though I've probably got Terry's original scripts filed away somewhere) I do know the casting wasn't completed as I was writing it so I didn't know what all the cast members would look like apart from Terry's thumbnail descriptions. Difficult to say what was my own invention -- I added bits of "technical" info and filled in gaps as seemed necessary. Of course all internal thoughts and feelings of characters are my interpretation because a TV script deals only in dialogue. You say the "first novel" was written before the series was filmed -- all three were written before their particular episodes were filmed.

I enjoyed reading the books, but perhaps because of the nature of what they are - TV tie-ins - some readers were disappointed. I gather from your reponses on Amazon that you were dismayed by the negative reaction they received in some quarters?

No not dismayed - surprised and slightly disappointed that the people criticising the books betrayed an ignorance of how professional writers work on novelisations. For example, some objected because the dialogue in the books differed from that of the filmed episodes, as if I had somehow changed it on a whim for no good reason. But as I pointed out above in answer to question 2, I was working to earlier drafts and remained faithful to the scripts I was given. And in TV and films, changes are made on the floor as they're shooting -- by which time of course the novel is finished, edited and with the printers. I was simply surprised that fans of B7 didn't know such a basic fact. Seems obvious to me.

Did you ever consider writing a original novel on the series?

No. I was never asked. The three I did were commissioned.

Ultraworld is due to be released onto DVD for the first time this summer. How do you think it stands up? From a production point of view, I thought the Core was quite well realised, though the Make-Up Artist asked for her name to be taken off the show after seeing the costumes...

I was fairly happy with it, though haven't watched it since it was transmitted. Didn't know the bit about the Make-up artist having her name removed. I know we were limited by budget to 3 aliens only. In the script I had several more (extras) dashing about who we couldn't afford.

With Ultraworld, what level of control did the script editor exercise over the work? There's been speculation that it was steered towards similar elements in an earlier story...

No, Chris Boucher took the plot I outlined to him and commisioned it. No idea what these "similar elements" might be.

One element I've noticed in your work, from your novels to the novelisations, and early magazine writing with publications like Men Only, is a certain lascivious quality. Ultraworld has Tarrant and Dayna forced into a voyeuristic "bonding ceremony". Do you feel that such an angle gives work a more realistic stance?

Love your use of the word lascivious -- has a Victorian ring to it. I don't think sexual elements make a story more realistic, just that sexual desire, fantasy, repression and so on is such an important part of the human experience that they ought to be included from time to time. I just thought that the Ultra, having a fact-gathering/cataloguing turn of mind would be naturally curious as to how human beings procreated. It was never suggested in the script that any actual hanky-panky went on apart from a little light petting.

Which characters did you most enjoy writing for?

Avon I seem to remember. I would have liked to do Servalan but she didn't feature in the one I wrote.

I spoke to Michael Keating (Vila) who felt he was "terrible" in the episode, and didn't feel comfortable with the role his character took - cracking jokes and riddles to the ship's computer. Do you feel you aimed the episode at a lower age range than that of your adult novels?

I know - and he looked uncomfortable. In fact this is where Chris Boucher made some changes. In the original script I had more enigmatic puzzles and riddles in order to baffle the alien computer brain and make it blow a fuse but Chris felt they were too abstruse and so he filched some out of a kids puzzle book, and these replaced mine. So I didn't aim the episode at anybody other than SF fans.

Were you ever tempted to do another episode when the series was continued for another year? If so, what would your ideas have been?

In fact I was asked to submit another idea which was lined up for the next batch before it was decided to cancel the series and bring it to a halt. I seem to remember it was called "The Block" and had a rather surreal plotline - happening inside the characters' heads and involving different versions of reality. I never actually wrote the script so can't tell you any more.

Interview copyright Hoyle, 2005. Many thanks to Mr. Hoyle for giving his time for this interview - Ultraworld is available on DVD from