So lately I’ve been writing up some ideas for fictional, Doctor Who crossovers–shows and concepts that could have theoretically crossed paths with the Doctor and his travels in the TARDIS, even as unlikely as it would have been for them to actually exist. One of the most obvious shows to do this with is a science fiction drama that ran for four seasons in the 70s and 80’s called Blake’s 7.
(Daily Doctor Who #115)
The general premise of Blake’s 7 is that in the far future, the galaxy is ruled by an evil and oppressive Federation, but are opposed by a band of rebels and criminals led by the idealistic Roj Blake.
We’ll get into the nuances of the show at another time, but it strikes me as potentially interesting (for me anyway) to do an overview of all the obvious connections that the series has with Doctor Who.
Since there are so many, we’ll split it up into two posts. Today we’re looking at writers, directors and crew for the show. We’ll save actors for another time, and for the most part we are ignoring work that was uncredited, just to try to retain some semblance of brevity.
So, first off, the series was created by Terry Nation. He’s most famous for creating the Daleks for Doctor Who back in 1963, and for writing all or part of eight Dalek-related serials for the show (and one “cutaway” episode). He also wrote two other non-Dalek adventures, creating the far less memorable Voord and Kraals. In addition to creating Blake’s 7, he also wrote 19 episodes, including the entirety of the first season.
David Maloney produced the first three seasons of Blake’s 7, and directed two episodes. He also directed eight serials for Doctor Who for Doctors Two-Four, including The Mind Robber, The Krotons, The War Games, Planet of the Daleks (by Terry Nation), Genesis of the Daleks (also by Terry Nation), Planet of Evil, The Deadly Assassin, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
The next most frequent writing contributor to Blake’s 7 was Chris Boucher. He was the script editor for the entire series, and wrote 9 episodes, including the series finale. For Doctor Who, he wrote three serials for the Fourth Doctor–The Face of Evil, The Robots of Death, and Image of the Fendahl, and created the character of Leela.
Robert Holmes wrote three episodes of Blake’s 7–he was one of the most prolific contributors to Doctor Who ever, writing multiple stories for the Second – Sixth Doctors. He was also a Doctor Who script editor for a few years in the early days of the Fourth Doctor (including the stories that Chris Boucher wrote).
Turning to the director’s chair, nine directors (other than Maloney) directed for both series:
• Michael E. Briant – For Blake’s 7, he directed five episodes over the first season, including the very first episode. For Doctor Who, he did six serials for the Third & Fourth Doctors–Colony in Space, The Sea Devils, The Green Death, Death to the Daleks (by Terry Nation), Revenge of the Cybermen, and Image of the Fendahl (by Chris Boucher).
• Mary Ridge directed six episodes of Blake’s 7, and also directed one serial for Doctor Who–Terminus, with the Fifth Doctor.
• Pennant Roberts directed four Blake’s Seven episodes, and five Doctor Who adventures featuring the Fourth to Sixth Doctors, including The Face of Evil (by Chris Boucher), The Sun Makers, The Pirate Planet, Warriors of the Deep, and Timelash.
• George Spenton-Foster also directed four Blake’s 7 episodes. He directed two Doctor Who serials for the Fourth Doctor–Image of the Fendahl (by Chris Boucher) and The Ribos Operation .
• Derek Martinus directed two Blake’s 7 stories. He directed five full Doctor Who serials over the first three Doctors, including Galaxy Four, The Tenth Planet, The Evil of the Daleks, The Ice Warriors, and Spearhead from Space. He also directed Mission to the Unknown, the one part Dalek “cutaway” story by Terry Nation which preceded The Daleks’ Masterplan.
• Gerald Blake directed two Blake’s 7 episodes, as well as two Doctor Who serials–The Abominable Snowman with the Second Doctor and The Invasion of Time with the Fourth Doctor.
• Fiona Cumming directed two Blake’s 7 episodes, and four Fifth Doctor serials for Doctor Who—Castrovalva, Snakedance, Enlightenment and Planet of Fire.
• Douglas Camfield directed one Blake’s 7 story, and also all or parts of nine stories across the first four Doctors, including Planet of the Giants, The Crusade, The Time Meddler, The Daleks’ Masterplan (partly by Terry Nation), The Web of Fear, The Invasion, Inferno, Terror of the Zygons, and The Seeds of Doom.
• Andrew Morgan directed one Blake’s 7 story, and two Doctor Who serials with the Seventh Doctor–Time and the Rani and Remembrance of the Daleks.
So all told, that means 31 of the 52 episodes of Blake’s 7 were written by Doctor Who-scribes, or about 60%, and 29 out of 52 episodes were directed by people who also did or had done Doctor Who serials–about 56%.
On top of that there were Blake’s 7 directors who did crew work on Doctor Who, and there were two Blake’s 7 writers who actually acted in Doctor Who—Rod Beacham and Bill Lyons–both alongsisde the Second Doctor. Beacham was in The Web of Fear as Corporal Lane, and Lyons was in The Enemy of the World as a guard.
Obviously, it takes a lot more than writers and directors to make a show. Hundreds of people, really. So I haven’t looked at everyone who worked on Blake’s 7. But I have tried to make a quick scan of all the people that IMDB lists as crew for the show who worked on 20 or more episodes, to see where I could find Doctor Who links.
First off, there is Dudley Simpson, who is credited for Blake’s 7 music, for 51 out of 52 episodes. For Doctor Who, he was involved in the music for a massive 205 episodes, from 1964 to 1980!
Sheila S. Tomlinson was an editor on Blake’s 7 for 39 episodes. She also edited Revenge of the Cybermen for Doctor Who.
Special sound artist Elizabeth Parker worked on 32 episodes of Blake’s 7, and composed the music for the Doctor Who story Timelash.
A.J. Mitchell was involved in visual effects for 37 Blake’s 7 episodes, and credited for the same in 21 Tom Baker episodes of Doctor Who over six serials. He apparently also did uncredited work on the very first Doctor Who serial in 1963!
Jim Francis was a visual effects designer for 26 episodes of Blake’s 7, plus The Caves of Androzani for Doctor Who. And for good measure, for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV show as well.
Mat Irvine was also involved in visual effects for 21 Blake’s 7 episodes, and for at least six Doctor Who serials for the 4th and 5th Doctors.
Brian Clemett did studio lighting for 40 Blake’s 7 episodes, and for four Doctor Who serials for the Fourth Doctor.
Peter Chapman was a cameraman for 21 Blake’s 7 episodes and for 4 Doctor Who serials.
Stuart Fell is an interesting one. He was a stunt coordinator for 12 episodes of Blake’s 7, and is credited as a fight arranger for 2 Doctor Who serials. However, he’s listed as an actor for 33 Doctor Who episodes and 12 Blake’s 7 episodes, mostly uncredited.
And that is it! I have no idea if this correlation is unusual or not, but it certainly strikes me as high when I see it.
Next time we’ll look at the actors who have been involved with both shows.