The Red Lines Page

January 4, 2013

Spelling B7

Filed under: Blake's 7,Novels,Warship,writing — Peter A @ 3:33 pm

I’ve been pondering the accuracy of my spelling when writing Warship for Big Finish at the end of last year. Big Finish does make an effort to get spellings correct wherever possible (yes, even though the occasional spelling of Bayban may seem to have been butchered).

Screen reading in Blake's 7Mostly obviously, one can rely on sources for things seen on screen. Literally in some cases — names that appear in Blake’s court records, for example, in “The Way Back.” In some episodes, there are displays on the flight deck that may repay attention with a freeze frame, a magnifying glass, and a mirror. (Or it is Flight Deck?)

clippingAnother kind of “seen on screen” is in the titles. “Blake” in “Blake’s 7” at the start of every episode, for example. Or “Soolin” in the end credits of every episode in Season D. And usually, you can rely on Radio Times credits being written by the production team and therefore correct for planet names or characters.

A third kind of seen on screen is in the subtitles. That’s trickier, because some subtitles could be phonetic, but they are available on officially licensed merchandise, and that may count for something. There are downloadable subtitles on the web, but I’m not always sure of their provenance.

Original scripts? Not everyone has access to the original scripts — and even then, the scripts may be inconsistent (because dialogue is written to be said, not seen, so it hardly matters) even within the same script. I think this may be where the mismatch between “tarial cell” and “tarriel cell” comes from. Since I once wrote a couple of B7 encyclopaedias called Tarial Cell, you can work out my preference.

Project AvalonThere are the novelisations — which would have been based on the scripts, and so one might anticipate the spellings would be correct there, or as correct as the original scripts. Trevor Hoyle’s novelisation of “Orac” in his Project Avalon book uses “Tarial Cell” whereas Tony Attwood’s novel Afterlife adopts “Tarriel Cell.”

There are online transcripts, but those may rely more on phonetic approximations by the transcribers — and sometimes, those may be inconsistent, too.

BBC Picture Publicity used to make photos available to the press with captions stencilled on the back of them. So that’s another “official” source that you might expect to be (usually) accurate.

Programme GuideThe Tony Attwood Programme Guide is another source, and was not only licensed by Terry Nation’s company but also had the support of production team members. That prefers Tarriel Cell, incidentially, including capitalisation. Boo! It also includes “Galactic Monopoly” which I don’t think was ever officially used in the TV series for its appearance in (for example) “Terminal.”

There’s Wikipedia, too — for example, that has a list of Blake’s 7 planet names.

The splendid Sevencyclopedia (ah, do you see what they did there?) has lots of detail, and sometimes offers variant spellings.

There are other books like Blake’s 7: The Inside Story (Nazzaro/Wells) which was co-written by a production member and uses original sources. And there is Liberation: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Blake’s 7 (Stevens/Moore) which is written by dedicated enthusiasts who have also done B7 spinoffs. Don’t be put off by the title, it is well researched.

Some examples…

Orac likes tarial cellsAs I explain, I prefer “tarial cell” to “Tarriel Cell.” But is it lower case (as in solar cell or photovoltaic cell) or capitalised (as in Phillips screwdriver or Allen key) or both capitalised? I’m not aware of anything in the TV series or spinoffs that lend credence to one or the other (e.g. naming it after, say, Ensor’s first wife Jane Tarial who he met at university, or something). And we don’t seem to use “Teleport Bracelet” rather than “teleport bracelet.” So I prefer lower case (as does Sevencyclopedia). But I’ve even seen the variant “Tariel Cell” somewhere too. Tsk!

I think the spelling of Jenna’s last-known destination is “Morphenniel” because that’s what the subtitles say in “Powerplay” and it is also used by Sevencyclopedia and Wikipedia. Nevertheless, the Programme Guide spells it as “Morphaniel” (which I have not seen in other reference sources).

Similarly, I prefer “Sarran” as the planet where we first meet Dayna — that’s what is used in the Programme Guide, the DVD episode subtitles, the Sevencyclopedia, and Wikipedia. But Liberation adopts “Sarren,” and I think The Inside Story does that, too.

I think the best thing is to avoid the most egregious errors, and stay consistent within the BF books.

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