The Red Lines Page

January 24, 2020

“Blake’s 7: Warship” interview

Warship Here’s an interview I did in August 2014 with with Kenny Smith for Big Finish. It describes some of what I got up to with the writing and recording of my Blake’s 7 audio Warship.

This was their first full-cast audio for that series, rather than the previous style of “narrated booked” in their Liberator Chronicles range.

I subsequently also adapted it as a novel for them.

 

Q: How did you find taking the outline for a Liberator Chronicle, and turning it into a full-cast play?

PeterABeardA: The original outline was a bit unusual for a Liberator Chronicle. It used the enhanced audiobook format, but with a larger cast. It already had scenes that would be narrated by Blake, Jenna, Avon, Vila and Cally.

When Andrew Mark Sewell (B7 Productions) and David Richardson (Big Finish) suggested it could be a full-cast play, I already had a structure that placed each character at the heart of key scenes of their own.

It was good to know I could also feature Zen and Orac, and even better when my begging e-mail about including Servalan met with approval. The suggestion, I mean – not the begging.

Q: Did you feel any pressure, as a result of that?

CounterfeitA: Whatever you write, you always want to create something that readers or listeners or viewers will enjoy. And of course you need the editor or producer to like it enough to commission.

But unlike novels, audios have another audience — you want the cast to enjoy performing it. Actors love working for Big Finish, but if they don’t have a good script then they won’t have fun in the studio. And if they didn’t have fun, they wouldn’t do more episodes.

So I was very conscious that Gareth, Sally, Paul, Michael, Jan and Jacqui had to have something exciting and motivating. I think that was the principal pressure — not disappointing my heroes from a show I’d always loved.

Q: Did much change during the course of writing the play?

A: I’m a huge B7 fan. Nevertheless, I did a ridiculously large amount of research  in preparation (i.e. watching DVDs).

Producer David Richardson and script-editor Justin Richards had some excellent notes. Director Ken Bentley had helpful suggestions about not pedantically specifying how some lines should be delivered, and that I should trust the cast to do their job — exactly the kind of advice that would make actors happier in the studio.

Otherwise, apart from that first big switch into a full-cast play, I think it was mostly tweaks for clarification, or a couple of continuity things with the TV series. And it was originally called “The Galactic War.” I thought “Warship” was thematically stronger, and more like a B7 title.

Q: How proud do you feel now, knowing its success has led to more full-cast B7 plays?

Blake's 7: MirrorA: It was fabulous when they asked me to write another full-cast episode, Mirror. I also adopted a more full-cast “feel” for my next Liberator Chronicles story, Incentive. Doing a whole mini-series hinged on a strong first audio: positive reviews, good sales, and the cast being happy to return.

I was in the studio for the recording, and they really seemed to have a great time. That’s down to how brilliantly Big Finish looks after them in so many ways, of course. My script was just part of their experience.

So I’m proud to take some of the credit for the continued success of the full-cast B7 plays. Galactic credit, obviously.

Q: Where all the cast together for the recordings?

Counterfeit was mostly narrated by Gareth Thomas, and it was always planned that Paul Darrow would record his smaller role in that separately. I was at Gareth’s studio day for that.

With Warship, almost the whole cast were there — except Paul, again, who I think was absent for family reasons. I’m sure they’d have been very happy to record together otherwise.

That meant they had to cunningly photoshop Paul into the cast photo for the booklet and publicity – very skilfully, I thought.

WarshipCast

Jacqui Pearce turned up for her bit on Warship, in her own words, “bald as an egg” because she had been having medical treatment. When it came to the photo call, she asked whether she should really be in the photo without any hair. Everyone told her of course she should!

She was bold and cheerful, but we didn’t have her there for long during the day. In any case,  my script only included a short section for her. But what a performance she gave in it!

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