Tag Archives: Survivors

Blake’s 7 Teleports Back Onto BBC1


The Beeb’s classic sci-fi series Blake’s 7 is heading back to BBC1, possibly as early as this Winter.

The revival of the fondly-remembered drama had been a closely guarded BBC secret but the news leaked out early this morning.

Blake’s 7, which ran for four seasons – 52 episodes – between 1978 and 1981, was created by Terry Nation.

Set in a dystopian future in which Earth is ruled by a oppressive, dictatorial Federation that keeps the population in a drug-induced subservient state, the show told the story of a group of criminals who, under the leadership of idealistic rebel Roj Blake (played by Gareth Thomas), become a team of intergalactic freedom fighters battling to liberate humanity from their oppressors.

Nation also created Doctor Who’s deadliest foes the Daleks and the 1970s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors, which was itself given a 21st-century makeover last year on BBC1 (a second series will air later this year).

That show’s success, and the massive popularity of the revived Doctor Who, is said to have convinced Beeb bosses that a Blake’s 7 revival could be another ratings-winner.

With satellite channel Sky One’s new version of Blake’s 7, announced almost a year go, in limbo, the BBC were able to reach a licensing agreement with the current rights holders and move ahead with their own updated version.

Producer Paolo Rilf said: “Doctor Who showed the BBC that not only is there an audience with a renewed appetite for TV sci-fi but also that some of their classic shows still have a lot of life left in them. Survivors provided further proof of that and Blake’s 7 was the obvious choice for the next revival.

“The production team are also big fans of the new Battlestar Galactica, which was a revolutionary update of a TV show that took the relatively shallow, superficial  original series and transformed it into a show with amazing depth and social relevance to our own present-day world. What they achieved with their show has been a big influence on our development of and plans for the new Blake’s 7.

“On some level, Blake and his crew were terrorists, albeit fighting for a just cause against an evil regime. Their struggle gives us a a mirror in which we can reflect and examine our own struggles in a post 9/11 world where the war on terror is an all-too-real part of our lives.”

He added: “Our plan is for a two or three-part miniseries to reintroduce the show to viewers and, depending on how that performs, a full series could follow. We hope to start casting in the next few weeks and film during the summer, with broadcast sometime before Christmas.”

Stars believed to have been approached about roles in the show include Stephen Fry, comedian Peter Serafinowicz, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and Red Dwarf actor Robert Llewellyn.

Rilf was cagey about revealing any plot details “as the initial scripts are being polished as we speak” but, in news that will delight long-time fans, he said: “We hope to have more than one of the stars of the original series reprise their roles and play a major part in the new version.”

It seems likely that Paul Darrow, who played amoral cynic Kerr Avon (right) in the original version of the show, will return as he was most fans’ favourite character and has been heavily involved with a number of aborted revival attempts over the years.

Other possibilities include Michael Keating as cowardly thief Vila Restal, another fan-favourite, and Jacqueline Pearce as the ruthless villain Servalan (below).

It also means that the revival will be some sort of sequel to the original rather than a remake or reboot that ignores the previous show’s continuity. That means the writers’ first challenge will be to resolve the ending of the original show, which was one of the most shocking TV cliffhangers ever seen.

First, Blake returned after two years’ missing from the show, only to be shot and killed in a tragic misunderstanding by a paranoid and increasingly unstable Avon, who had been leading the crew in Blake’s absence. Then Vila and all of Avon’s other crewmates were apparently gunned down by Federation guards.

Only Avon himself was left standing at the end, surrounded by armed guards, and as he raised his gun, the screen faded to black, several shots were then heard being fired and the credits rolled for the last time.

Blake’s 7 is the Choob’s all-time favourite show and I’ve long dreamed of the day when it would return but, of course, with filming not even started yet, it would be extremely foolish to get too excited about a revival just yet, given how often we’ve been disappointed by similar announcements over the years.

But if this does pan out, then this day could prove to be one of the best in the history of TV. Mark it in your diary and keep your fingers crossed!

EDIT: Okay, so since this page is still picking up quite a few hits, I feel obliged to remind all readers who stumble upon it to remember that it was written a while ago (look and see the date at the top if you don’t believe me) and bear in mind that timing is everything. That is all.

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British Shows Invade US TV


BBC America will broadcast three British fantasy/sci-fi shows later this year.

Survivors, which completed its first, six-episode season on BBC1 in the UK just before Christmas, is an remake/update of a 7os BBC show of the same name, created by Terry Nation, who also created Blake’s 7 and co-created Doctor Who’s deadliest foes, The Daleks.

The post-apocalyptic drama, follows a small group of strangers who band together to survive in the aftermath of a virus that wipes out 99.9% of the human race.

As they struggle to start over they face not only a struggle to find food and water, but also find themselves under threat from other survivors and, in some cases, their own troubled pasts.

A second six-episode season has been ordered by the BBC and will air in the UK later this year.

Being Human is a quirky drama/horror about three 20-something flatmates, a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf, as they struggle to live normal lives and avoid their secret double lives being exposed.

The first six-episode series is currently airing on BBC3 in the UK.

Finally, BBC America will broadcast the 10-episode season three of Primeval, which is due to air on the UK’s ITV1 in the Spring.

The first two seasons of the show, 13 episodes in total, about a team of experts who battle dinosaurs that emerge into modern-day London through a time anomaly, aired last year in the States.

BBC America has already announced it will be screening the first season of Ashes To Ashes, the sequel to the BBC version of Life On Mars, later this year. Season two of Ashes To Ashes is due to air on BBC1 in the Spring.

 

 

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The Show WILL Go On…


So far, we’ve looked at the TV shows that have already been cancelled this season and the ones with their future hanging in the balance.

So to round off our mid-season round-up, here’s some better news for the new year, as we take a look at the TV shows that have a brighter future (at least for now).

Mad Men (AMC): Possibly the finest TV show currently in production, this character-led drama about advertising executives in early-60s new York simply oozes quality. Series creator and main writer Matthew Weiner has said that the show will run for five seasons (network permitting) and cover 10 years in the lives of the characters.

Season two ended its run earlier this year, with ratings that grew from season one (almost doubled, in fact). AMC have ordered a third season – however Weiner reportedly has been playing hardball, looking for a pay rise to reflect the critical and ratings success of the show, and whether he will still be in charge when it returns is somewhat unclear.

Dexter (Showtime): Superior drama, with a vein of dark humour running through it, starring Six Feet Under’s Michael C Hall as a serial killer who works a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department. Season three recently ended its run and the network has committed to at least two further seasons, of 12 episodes each.

Caprica (SciFi): This prequel to the highly acclaimed Battlestar Galactica re-imagining was in development hell for a long time and looked doomed but the SciFi network in the US has finally given the green light to the show after a pilot episode was made. It’s unlikely to hit our screens until 2010, however.

Billed as more of a family drama than a space opera, Caprica is set 51 years before the Cylon attack that kicked off the Battlestar Galactica story and tells the story of two families (one of them led by the father of future BSG commander William Adama and grandfather 0f Apollo) and their role in the creation of the Cylons.

Survivors (BBC): The remake/re-imagining of the classic 1970s British show – created by Terry Nation (the man who created Blake’s 7– The Cathode Ray Choob’s all-time favourite TV show – and Doctor Who‘s deadliest foes, the Daleks) – about the survivors of a plague that wipes out 99.9% of the human race has been renewed for a second 6-part season.

Burn Notice (USA): This Miami-set tongue-in-cheek drama, about a spy inexplicably cast adrift by his bosses and left to fend for himself, has earned a 16-episode third-season order from the USA network.

Fringe (Fox): The new show from Lost/Alias’s JJ Abrams, about an FBI agent who teams up with a brilliant but mentally unstable and amoral scientist and his estranged son to investigate crimes involving cutting-edge fringe science (concepts that blur the boundary between science fact and science fiction,such as telepathy, levitation, reanimation, genetic mutation), which seem to be part of a wider global conspiracy.

Solid, if unremarkable, viewing figures ensured that the show was picked up for a full 22-episode season order early on in its run.

Sanctuary (SciFi): Endearingly old-fashioned storytelling and cost-cutting use of green-screen technologyto digitally create the locations are the trademarks of this show, which began life as a series of webisodes broadcast over the internet before being picked up by the American SciFi TV network.

Stargate SG1’s Amanda Tapping stars as the enigmatic, long-lived English doctor Helen Magnus, who is in charge of the titular sanctuary that seeks out monsters, freaks and other “abnormals” (some human, some not) to either aid or imprison them depending on how hostile or dangerous they are.

It’s not a flashy or very sophisticated (in terms of writing) show – in many ways it harks back to simpler times when story-telling on TV did not have to be so cynical – but it’s hard to dislike and Tapping’s character makes for a enthralling lead.

SciFi were happy enough with it to order a second 13-episode season.

Life On Mars (ABC): US remake of the acclaimed BBC original about a present day police officer who has an accident and wakes up in the 1970s. After a dismal pilot version (filmed in Los Angeles and set in Chicago), a radical overhaul saw most of the cast replaced (with Harvey Keitel replacing Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt and The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli brought in) and the action (and filming) switched to New York.

The new pilot was a huge improvement. The ongoing series has closely closely followed the plots and story arc of the UK version but with hints that the underlying mythology (and the explanation for Sam Tyler’s time-shift) may be very different to what was ultimately revealed in the BBC show.

The initial 13-episode order has been increased by four and when the show returns from the festive break, it will move from Thursday nights to Wednesdays, paired up with the reinvigorated Lost, which network chiefs at ABC hopes will help boost Life On Mars’ mediocre ratings. If the strategy works, a second season could be on the cards.

True Blood (HBO): Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball reunited with HBO for this series, based on a series of books, about a telepathic waitress (Anna Paquin) who falls in love with a vampire (the show is set in Louisiana in contemporary America, where vampires have come out of closet and co-exist, somewhat uneasily, with humans).

Ratings were very poor to begin with but grew steadily during the 12-episode first season, and the show is now one of HBO’s biggest ratings-grabbers. A second season has been ordered.

Kath & Kim (NBC): Another US remake, this time of the superior Aussie original. It hasn’t been the total disaster you might expect if you are a fan of the Australian show. However, the harder edges of the original have been softened somewhat for the American audience and casting the relatively slim, beautiful Selma Blair as Kim does seem to miss the point of the character somewhat. In any case, ratings, though slightly mediocre, were good enough for NBC to up the order fr the season from the initial  13 episodes to a full 22. Whether the show will return for a second season remains to be seen.

Worst Week (CBS): Yet more US remake-ry, this time of the BBC comedy The Worst Week Of My Life, about an accident-prone groom-to-be. Middling ratings but CBS ordered an extra three episodes (for a total of 16) and this remains a possibility for a second season.

Sons of Anarchy (F/X): Drama about a gang of outlaw bikers, starring Hellboy‘s Ron Perlman. First season has completed its
13-episode run and a second has been ordered.

Samantha Who? (ABC): Somewhat mediocre sitcom starring former Married With Children babe Christina Applegate as a woman who gets hit by a car, loses her memory and discovers that she wasn’t a very nice person before the accident. ABC has ordered an additional seven episodes for season 2, bringing the total to 20.

Californication (Showtime): David Duchovny vehicle about a charming but troubled writer, has been renewed for a third season.

Entourage (HBO): A sixth season has been ordered.

The Mentalist (CBS): Exceptionally high viewing figures for this crime drama – about a former phony psychic who now uses his brilliant powers of observation to help the cops solve crimes – won it an early full-season pick-up and a second season looks certain.

Psych (USA): A fourth season has been ordered of this comedy drama, which is also about a fake psychic who helps the police.

Gary Unmarried (CBS): The new Jay Mohr comedy received an order for an additional seven episodes (plus two further scripts) taking it to at least 20 episodes in total.

My Boys (TBS): Comedy about a female sports writer in Chicago, and the men in her life. Nine-episode third season has been ordered.

Medium (NBC): Season five of the supernatural crime drama, starring Patricia Arquette, gets an extra six episodes, for a total of 19.

Monk (USA): The “dramedy” about an obsessive-compulsive private detective is to get an eighth and final season.

Privileged (CW): Drama about a wannabe journalist who ends up as a tutor for spoilt rich kids. The CW network ordered an extra 5 episodes, bringing season one up to 18 in all.

90210 (CW): The updated follow-up to 90s teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210 has been a big ratings hit for the CW network, who ordered a full 22-episode season after only three episodes had aired.

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