Blake’s 7: Review: Big Finish Audio: The Liberator Chronicles 1.1: The Turing Test

Avon and Vila visit an isolated outpost where scientists are working on a top secret project…

We’ve had various returns for Blake’s 7 over the years – Tony Attwood’s interesting novel Afterlife, Paul Darrow’s prequel Avon, Barry Letts’ Radio 4 plays, as well as the revamped audio series – but this is the first time that anyone’s officially brought out new stories set during that first season when the Seven were an unknown commodity, and Blake was fired up with his vision to free the galaxy from the Federation.

Big Finish’s entry to the B7 saga comprises three stories, told in a similar way to their Companion Chronicles series of Doctor Who tales and the Dark Shadows audiobooks, with a single narrator – here Paul Darrow as Avon – accompanied by an extra voice.   To kickstart the series, we get perhaps the best known pairing of the entire show, with Michael Keating’s Vila sparking off Avon in Simon Guerrier’s appropriately downbeat script.

Give this script to another actor, and you’d have a very different story, but Guerrier clearly knows that Darrow will imbue the narration with the appropriate inflections. Lisa Bowerman’s direction ensures that this recalls the Avon of the first year, rather than the rather more melodramatic character of the later seasons. Descriptions of Blake as a “visionary leader” have exactly the right blend of contempt and hollow humour that was always clear from Darrow’s performance, and throughout the tale, the reactions are spot on.

Intriguingly, a throwaway line seems to alter the timeframe of the series: Avon refers to experiments from the 20th Century as being seven centuries earlier – yet the episode Killer suggested that the show was set 700 years after the first Earth deep space mission, something that’s still some way off.

Verdict: A cracking start with both Darrow and Keating recreating their roles brilliantly.  8/10

Paul Simpson

The Turing Test is available separately on 2nd / 3rd January 2015 as part of Big Finish’s Christmas offers. Click here for more details

The Turing Test is part of Volume 1 of The Liberator Chronicles. Click here to order direct from Big Finish.

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Being Human fan? Check out our spoiler-free review of the opening episode of the new season here!

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Blake’s 7: Review: Big Finish Audio: The Liberator Chronicles 1.1: The Turing Test

  1. I must admit it’s great to see (or should that be hear?) Blake’s 7 back in this form. I’ve heard good things recently about the writer Guerrier’s Big Finish Who work over at Daily P.O.P weblog so expect that, as your review states, he’s able to capture the particular personality of Blake’s 7 and its world.
    No one says “well, now…” like Paul Darrow as Avon but he also always did a good job* as the charismatic, oddly insightful, witty bastard so it’s great to have him (and Michael Keating’s likeable weasel Vila) back in something worthwhile. It’s cheering to see B7 make a comeback. Thanks for the review.
    *Okay, there WERE exceptions!

    Posted by Hal | February 26, 2012, 4:38 am
  2. Cheers, Hal. I just got my set this week and it’s really superb stuff.

    Posted by dailypop | March 1, 2012, 4:46 pm

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