Blake’s 7: Interview: Paul Darrow

LuciferOne of the mainstays of Blake’s 7, Paul Darrow hasn’t confined himself simply to playing Kerr Avon on the show. Some years ago, he penned Avon: A Terrible Aspect, an account of his character’s early life, and in recent time, he has written the Lucifer trilogy for Big Finish (although he admits that elements of the new trilogy don’t necessarily fit with what he wrote all those time ago) and is working on a new writing project. At the recording of the new series of full-cast audios in August, he chatted briefly with Paul Simpson…

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Avon has a new sparring partner in these audios: Del Grant…

Yes, he’s popped up. I’ve known Tom [Chadbon] for a long time and he’s a very good actor and a lovely guy. They’ve put him in the third series, which he wasn’t in of course and which might be a bit tricky, but it seems to be working well, what we’ve done so far.

What are the characters’ attitude to each other? They do have a certain amount of history!

That’s covered, and I’m forgiven for killing his sister… Mind you, she had it coming!

b7-bigfinishscimitar1_cover_mediumDo you find now that you know the characters so well, particularly having written them, that you will comment if you find something not quite right in a script?

Yes – there are one or two sections which doesn’t quite ring true, so we try to work around them.

There was a moment in one story where someone turns up and in the script, Avon asks, “Who are you?” I said he wouldn’t do that; he’d kill her – but they said that if he did that, we didn’t have an episode! This happened originally: never in a million years in the third series all those years ago would he have tuned Tarrant or the Dayna character to Zen or Orac. He never would have done that. I said this to [producer] David Maloney, bless his soul, and he said, “If you don’t, then we haven’t got a series. Think of the money.” So I thought of the money, and off we went!

The interesting thing about these new audios is that you can explain such anomalies and fill in some of the gaps. When we first meet Avon, he’s calculating, cold and ruthless, planning ten steps ahead – do you consider that he remains that way throughout the show?

Pretty much. Obviously, I had to alter him slightly because he would have gone off on his own. He actually tried it at one point, tried to ditch the others, but since that didn’t happen, you have to tweak him a little bit. But underneath he’s the same old guy.

Avon and VilaAvon and Vila are often seen as the heart of the series…

Their balance was good. As you may have heard today, when Michael [Keating] and I are together, it rattles off. I know what he’s going to do, and I know what he’s going to do. We race through those scenes.

How much have you worked together outside of Blake’s 7?

We did before the series. We were in Julius Caesar together in Bromley, many many years ago – I was playing Cassius, and he was playing Titinius, who is Cassius’s pal, and he asks him to kill him. Michael had this long speech over my corpse – “Oh, Cassius” – which has a lot of Ss… so I was getting a lot of saliva on my face when I was meant to be dead.

Of course, we’ve since done conventions around the world and had a lot of fun.

The popularity of the show doesn’t seem to be diminishing – there’s an increasing number of audios coming out…

You can understand it, I suppose. If you liked the series, and a lot of people seemed to, they’ve been starved of it for so long that they’ve now got something.

revelation_image_largeYour second new novel has also now come out – were you pleased with how it ended up?

Yes – I think it’s alright. I’ve written the third one, which they’ve got now. It’s a prequel and a sequel really. It switches back and forth.

Is there more you’d like to do with the character?

I wouldn’t mind writing an episode… I might have a word with Cav and see if he’ll let me.

It’s probably a more collaborative process than a book is.

I’d probably feature the Vila character more, make Avon more background. He’d have to be there, but Vila would feature, and you’d see a different side to him.

Why Vila?

I’ve talked about this to Michael: okay, he’s basically the comic character, but he’s also rather good at what he does. There is another side to the Vila character which I don’t think was necessarily brought to the fore. I discussed this with him many years ago, and he said he’d love to do something with that, do something a little different.

Click here for our review of Scimitar, the first of the new series of audios.

And here for our interview with producer Cavan Scott

For more information on the Big Finish/B7 Media range of Blake’s 7 adventures, click here.

 

 

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