In this third set of four full-cast stories, Big Finish brings to a close the Crossfire sequence of Blake’s 7 tales set in a galactic civil war: Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) vs the former President (Hugh Fraser). Range producer/script editor/director John Ainsworth has used these stories to good effect so far, weaving a large-scale story into Blake’s 7 continuity, setting Yasmin Bannerman in place as Dayna Mellanby and generally keeping fans entertained. We’re pleased to see this trend continues with this third set of stories.
Although there’s a theme running through this set of ‘the civil war must end’, it doesn’t dominate. Much like the TV series, there’s plenty of room for adventure and character insight.
The first story is Una McCormack’s Ministry Of Truth, with elements of fourth wall (as opposed to force wall!) and a chance for Servalan’s henchman, Zeera Vos (Rebecca Crankshaw) to make the first of many appearances across the set. The central story blends the usual mix of deception with impending disaster and is set in a Federation propaganda facility where, it seems, almost everyone is being lied to.
Trevor Baxendale’s Revenge gives Vila (Michael Keating), Cally (Jan Chappell) and Avon (Paul Darrow) a chance to explore several ethical dilemmas and gives us a window into Vila’s early life via a chance encounter with someone from his past. The main characters stick to type, but what’s fascinating is how the arguments play out as to what is best for a ship full of refugees.
In Kith And Kin, Christopher Cooper sets Tarrant (Steven Pacey) in pursuit of his past, and family secrets are uncovered on the planet Corrolos. The story brings in elements of other Blake’s 7 TV episodes and avoids cliché.
Steve Lyons gets to bring the set to a close in Death Of Empire, and it’s the Servalan/President show-down – whose side will the Liberator crew fight on, or will they watch from the sidelines? There are several excellent pieces of dialogue, showing how Steve Lyons really understands the main characters, resolution and plenty more for the next boxset (whenever that’s announced). The ending may seem familiar in places, but it all adds to the excitement and expectation as to what might follow.
It’s a strong set, and leaves listeners longing for more. Roll on our return to the Federation!