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Exclusive: Concept Art for Long-Simmering BLAKE’S 7 Series

Between 1978 and 1981, BBC-watchers were treated to a dour and gritty look at science fiction with the Terry Nation-created Blake’s 7, about a ragtag group of outlaws and ruffians who are made to team up and work together to take down a totalitarian government under the “leadership” of Roj Blake and in the ship known as The Liberator. Running 52 episodes, the series was one of the first in sci-fi to prove that no character, no matter how beloved (or named in the title of the show) was safe from the machinations of the storytelling gods. Here’s a gander at a bit of classic Blake’s 7.

For years, fans have been curious/worried about the proposed relaunch of the “Dirty Dozen in Space” series. It’s been in the pipeline for many years and unfortunately, continually hit snags. However, we do have three exclusive pieces of concept art for the show which, the official word is, is still in development. First, the pictures, then the backstory.

As you can see, the concept art is a little H.R. Giger-y, and certainly the Liberator looks quite different to the way the original show’s looks. Gives an idea for the visual tone the makers of the series are attempting to strike. Certainly looks like the right place for fugitives and outlaws to hang out, and it’s definitely not a glossy, pristine starship.

The rebirth of the project dates all the way back to 2000 when a TV movie was planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show, which never came to fruition. Since then, several different ideas had been bandied about including a miniseries, an animated series, and a series of TV movies. In 2012, it was announced that Syfy had picked up the rights to a new series and announced that GoldenEye and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell would direct.

Blake 2

This ended up not materializing, although the idea of the remake continued, with the BBC eventually announcing in 2013 that there would indeed still be a new series appearing on Syfy. There was even talk that a full series order of 13 episodes had been placed. This, as you know, also didn’t result in a show, and then there was talk the series to end up on the Xbox Live Network, however that also no longer seems to be happening. The official word is that they are working on back-stories and production design and that they are discussing things with “several U.S. broadcasters.”

Whether this comes about or not, the idea of a redone Blake’s 7 is an intriguing one, given the success of Battlestar Galactica as a gritty space opera. Potentially, Blake’s 7 could be even bleaker than that series. But, presumably, in a cool and spectacle-filled way.

What do you make of all of the talk of a remake? Do these thee pieces of concept art make you more or less excited for a new show?

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24 comments

  • Uhhh! I do not like this concept art of the Liberator. The Liberator is supposed to be the self repairing flagship spacecraft of an alien race that adopted Blake and his friends as its crew – this concept looks like its about to fall to bits. A vacuum cleaner on steroids, and an old one at that. This cant be permitted surely?
    I’d like to see Blakes 7 be a scifi series with the correct balance of gritty and tech. Some where in between the gloss of Star Trek and and the grit of Battlestar. I always thought Stargate got this just right, and I think too many new SciFi shows go too gritty.
    If this concept art is what turns up in the produced show that reaches our screens I’ll be bitterly disappointed. I appreciate that the new show will need its own identity but this isnt what I had in mind or think is respectful to the original. Big raspberry from me Im afraid.
    I’ve been waiting since 1983 for a reboot/sequel, and I dont want my beloved show at the mercy of some concept artist “experimenting” which is what this looks like to me.

  • I think the liberator is not bad for a first concept attempt. 
    Remove those big pipes from central structure, thicken up the pylons and put a more rounded back on it. Stick some more armour plating on it. 
    I think many of the fans updated versions don’t go far enough in updating the craft. 

    • I think the liberator is not bad for a first concept attempt.
      Remove those big pipes from central structure, thicken up the pylons and remove the box structures on the pylons  or massively reduce there size. Stick some more armour plating on it.
      I think many of the fans updated versions don’t go far enough in updating the craft, so I glad the show production designers have gone further. 

  • whilst ive been a long term fan of b7 and waited with bated breath for its long overdue return to tv im not a fan of the “concept art” . this misses the mark by far, take for example dr who for many years the same iconic figure has been used for the tardis yes these days it looks to be brand new but its shape and form has never changed !!! this concept art is gothic geigerish something the liberator never was .she was sleek stylish almost sports car like in design!!! unbeatable, unchaseable, unmatchable? looks to me like its ready to blow a gasket at any time! to use this design would not be blakes7 . there are a few designs in google images that are way closer than this by amateur’s ! come on please be respectful to the source at least !! if this show is to come to fruition at least give it a good head start ? this would only be blakes7 in name only there would be very little to connect it to the original bar character names !!!!!

  • […] Syfy’s Battestar Galactica reboot proved that even old shows with a high cheese quotient may have the potential to become something great if the right creative minds are aboard (regardless of how you felt about the ending). Of course, it doesn’t always work — witness The CW’s short-lived resurrection of the cult British series The Tomorrow People this past season. Still, if we’re talking about classic science fiction series that could be amazing if rebooted properly, Blake’s 7 has got to be near the top of the list. And, in fact, a reboot has been in development for years in one form or another, but so far hasn’t made it to screen. However, we have just gotten a small glimpse at what new Blake’s 7 might look like, courtesy of this concept art shared by Nerdist. […]

  • Don’t really care for the designs, but you’ve got to think that the success of Guardians of the Galaxy improves the odds of a Blake’s 7 reboot – execs always like to green-light something they can compare to something familiar and successful. Unfortunately “It’s like Firefly, but darker and more political” isn’t going to be winner.

  • I was a bit put of in the first few seconds as all fans probably would be but after glancing at it on again of again over a few minutes I did start to appreciate it, I still prefer the classic though that’s because let’s face nothing can beat the original Liberator but I get that their going for that techno organic look to give it the sense of it being a living ship, if your willing I do have some advice though, Put the green engine back on you know that big pulsing core that gives it the sense of power it looks a tiny bit to grey otherwise I honestly think it would look better and make the pillars a little bigger and longer just to give the whole ship that symmetry.   

  • Here’s an example for you – Star Trek’s Enterprise in all it’s various guises and versions both on TV and in the movies has always been easily identifiable, so I don’t see why such a departure is necessary for such an iconic and easily recognisable craft like the Liberator (apart from saying “because we can”). You can’t imagine any of the Star Trek series/movie designers going to their producer and saying “Hey, I know what the Enterprise is  supposed to look like, but this time I’ll design it to look like some random rusty tractor parts that have been glued together in the dark!” and still keeping their job. I trust you’d agree that it not changing anything would not work, but I am sure the original Roger Murray-Leach design could be updated, rather than going for the “generic B-movie Alien rip-off” look – you say yourself that the look is “Giger-y” and suits criminals hanging around, but surely the whole point of the Liberator’s design is that the distinctiveness of the exterior and the almost cathedral-like interior were a contrast to the crew, essentially a band of criminals and misfits. There is also the contrast with the Federation’s very utilitarian ships to be considered, that would be lost if this proposed design was used.

    I did reply to your comment earlier, and I repeat what I said, why not get in touch?!

  • I’ve been a B7 fan for thirty years, involved in conventions and fan clubs. To say I don’t like your vision of Liberator is an understatement. To be honest, I can’t imagine how you could possibly make it worse. Whatever you’re making here might be good, but it is not Blake’s 7. 

  • My advice to the people in charge of B7 is look at what’s going on with Star Trek, Doctor Who and Star Wars right now.  Those franchises are being 95% faithful to what came before, not reinventing and redesigning the wheel for the sake of it.  If it’s not broken don’t fix it.

  • Sorry but I really don’t like the Liberator design. I liked the contrast between the stark Federation world and the sleek, elegant Liberator which speaks of alien design. This concept art is too much like Serenity/Firefly for comfort. Like someone else here has remarked, changing the Liberator would be like changing the TARDIS… or the Enterprise.  Just don’t…

  • Whilst i love the thought of B7 being back on or screens, please can the producers allow one kiss to the past, and reinstate the Liberator in a form not too dissimilar to its original form? It really was THE star of the show – not just the exterior, but the spacious and super cool interior. It would be like Dr Who without his Blue Box or Battlestar Gaactica without its Vipers. B7 with a Grungy Liberator? Please don’t! Theres a generation of loyal fans who’ll tune in and buy the merchandise if its regognisable to the show they loved. Just look at ITV’s The Prisoner or The CW’s remake of Tomorrow People. Crash and burn. THAT’S what happens when you inker and take a concept too far from the original. 

  • I grew up watching Blake’s 7, I’ve watched it again fairly recently.  The story still stands up today even if the sets and SFX don’t.  The thing that bothers me is the rumors of how the back story of Blake was going to be changed, sorry, “updated”.  Blake’s story is integral to the whole thing and changing that changes everything.  Terry Nation hit the nail fair and square on the head with his story and messing with that is the first step on the road to ruination.
    I also agree with Jeff, the Liberator does look like something we’ve seen before (a lot).  It is supposed to be alien in design, it’s supposed to be sleek, it’s supposed to be something that is so far advanced it leaves everything that the Federation has in its wake.  I know the image is concept art, but it misses those very points in it’s design.  Make it pristine, make it clean, make it everything that the other ships in the show are not.

    • Matt, thanks for your thoughts.  I thought I’d drop you a line back here for the benefit of the many as much as the one, or few..  That notion of the Liberator being the superyacht to the Federation’s rubber dinghys [sp.?] has not been lost, nor is Blake’s ‘story’ being changed.  Some minor details arent as cogent today as they were then, but we’re not reinventing the wheel here.  We’re building a bigger universe within which it sits however.  Re the Liberator, you may think it ungainly but compared to the spaceships of our near future it is still a near-fantastical machine. You haven’t even seen what it can do yet….  Believe me, it’s still unbeatable, unchaseable, unmatchable…  The original story, whilst iconic, was simply lacking in a huge amount of detail, such detail being critical to any kind of transmedia strategy for a property in this day and age.  Don’t worry, we are trying to be respectful to Mr Nation’s body of work in its entirety whilst bringing the franchise bang up to date for an unforgiving, exacting audience.  Hope that helps put this set of brilliant artwork into context for you, and gives you hope enough to stay tuned for more news as the saga develops.  Without fans like your good self, we would not have the bravery to continue whilst those around us lose their heads..

      • Hi Leon,
        I really think you’ve missed the point with this concept art – at best, it’s mediocre and it’s way too typical, looks like something off a cheap direct-to-DVD “Alien-a-like” production.
        This is the point where you think “So, Mr. Armchair Critic, you could do better, eh?”. Well, interestingly enough,  I am part of a team of model makers, restorers and designers, I am also a fan of the original series. Contact me if you’re interested in a different perspective … it couldn’t hurt to have a second opinion … !!

  • I watched the series as a kid on PBS after old Dr. Who episodes. I think the theme of a group of freedom fighters waging a struggle against a totalitarian galactic government is one that would play well today. I mean, its basically the progenitor of Firefly…

  • The updated Liberator looks very Nostromo-y (which was a Ron Cobb design, IIRC). That’s not a bad thing generally, but right now it’s so close it’s actually kind of distracting, like I’d expect Sigourney Weaver to come running around the corner with a flamethrower and a cat carrier.