B11 – GAMBIT (and a bit about post war architecture.)

Blakes 7 Gambit

I think we’d better stick together.

Watching Blake’s 7 is about watching the future, but from the perspective of today.
For example, I wanted I’m drawn to a recent episode of Doctor Who – ‘Smile’, which was set on the planet Gliese 581 D, on which was located a former human colony.  Material was filmed at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) in Valencia.  The scenes inside the main complex continued a great tradition of taking contemporary architecture, and presenting it, with some televisual trickery, as a place of the future.  

City-of-Arts-and-Sciences-Valencia-Palau-de-les-Arts_dezeen_ban

Rewind 45 years or so, to 1973, when Jon Pertwee’s Doctor was caught in the middle of a battle/rescue attempt by Draconian’s in ‘Frontier in Space’ – recorded at the Southbank Centre, in London – a vision of the future.

This centre, opened in 1968 and situated alongside the river Thames, was originally conceived as a city within a city.   “In its sixties version it was partly associated with an egalitarian concept of space, according to which there should be no hierarchical relations among buildings and spaces. In line with this concept, traditional city planning components such as squares, avenues and clearly delimited constructions at ground level were disfavoured. Instead the idea was that buildings ought to be connected to each other at multiple levels through separate bridges, decks and walkways for vehicles and pedestrians, creating a single urban web or system. The buildings themselves, as is the case of the South Bank centre, should not follow any traditional architectural composition rules, in other words, it should not be possible ‘to distinguish front from back, top from bottom, inside from outside” (1)(2)

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Some saw the Southbank Centre as sculpture rather than architecture, and some saw it as a response to the politeness of the Royal Festival Hall. (3)  For me, it is yet another example of a fascinating era of architecture, as designers explore the possibilities of using innovative techniques and materials to create structures that are maybe challenging or tricky to navigate, but do suggest a brave new world, created as they were, with real vision and flair.

The vintage photo below shows what was above the underpass around the time of Blake’s 7’s filming in 1978.  And the two small images show the location of where ‘Gambit’ was filmed – now boarded up – and awaiting a new lease of life as part of the Southbank’s redevelopment.

And redevelopment is a part of the history of this complex. The factors behind how the space is maintained and developed has rarely moved forward in a straight line.  With time and changing needs, there have been calls to develop the site.  There has been some demolition work over the decades, and there is work afoot to build new extensions and spaces.  At the same time, there is conservation work, and schemes designed to sympathetically let natural light into spaces that have not seen light for some time.  And then there is the ‘undercroft’ – the spaces at floor level – which have been a mecca for the skateboarding community in London.  These have been under threat, as they are earmarked as commercial opportunities to fund new development.

In short, the history of the complex is complex – in keeping with its original idea and execution.

And it is these underworld spaces that are the interest for Blake’s 7 fans, as five years after Jon Pertwee dodged gunfire underneath the Queen Elisabeth Hall/Purcell Room auditoriums, Director George Spenton-Foster lead his cast and crew into a night time shoot, depicting the seedy underbelly of Freedom City.  Whilst everything is shot close up, the use of coloured lighting, sound effects and an array of props create a fascinating mix of the contemporary and the future.

The following year saw Blake’s 7 filming in the north of England, and contemporary architecture featured heavily again in ‘Children of Auron’.  In this case, a newly constructed structure known as the Brunswick Building, which was completed in the late 1970’s as part of the Leeds Polytechnic School of Landscape Architecture.  Unlike the Southbank Centre, this building had a short life, being originally designed in three phases.  However budget cuts meant the third phase was never completed.  Perhaps never realising its full potential as a complex, it fell victim of a further wave of re-development, not lasting much more than 30 years of existence.  On screen however it looked very effective, using a mix of concrete and glass to create something quite eye catching.  Unlike ‘Gambit’, the interior of the building was also used effectively, and being shot on film created a unique atmosphere, something that made the episode stand out visually from the others.  (4)

Blake’s 7, during its short life span, used past and contemporary architecture very effectively, and even in its later stages, it made the use of a then unopened shopping centre in Guildford and turned it into a dystopian world – something that resonates with me every time I find myself stuck in one.   But as mentioned earlier, it was simply continuing a tradition in film and television, of taking something from the ‘now’ and presenting it as the ‘future’   Take the complexes and subways featured in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’, to the rooftops and corridors of Wills Imperial Tobacco Factory in Bristol, featuring in Doctor Who’s ‘The Sun Makers’ – these environments are a future just close enough to the present day (at the time of transmission), making the audience use their imaginations just that little bit more.

And with that, I often have to remind myself that a production only tends to date after the broadcast, not during.  It’s easy for me to forget to consider what these productions must have felt like when they were first screened.   And when Blake’s 7 showcases up to the date constructions such as the Southbank, and Leeds Brunswick Building it really is – just like the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia – the future, even if it isn’t for long.

EPISODE DISCUSSION

Recently I had a brief chat with a contributor to the ‘Alpha Grades’ facebook group, who pointed out that he was looking forward to my views of some of the more ‘meaty’ episodes of Blake’s 7.  And at that moment it got me thinking about how I was looking forward to blogging about these episodes the least.  But why?  What on earth would prevent me from enjoying writing about the serials that I consider to be the peak of Blake’s 7?  And it was down to one thing – over familiarity.

I remember growing up with Doctor Who, and the pure delight when my Mum and Dad finally purchased a VHS video recorder.  This meant that I could finally buy some Doctor Who tapes, and see Tom Baker as the Doctor for the very first time, after a lifetime of reading about it in Doctor Who Magazine.  ‘City of Death’ was watched religiously, every Sunday morning, once I had finished my paper round, for about a year.

Slowly other tapes were added to the mix, once the pocket money allowed me to do so.  ‘The Three Doctors’, ‘Day of the Daleks’ and ‘The Sontaran Experiment/Genesis of the Daleks’ were the start of a kind of obsessive joy, that reached it’s peak, when my all time favourite ‘Inferno’ finally reached the shops and I could recognise shot-for-shot each intense action scene atop of the industrial plant.

But there comes a time when the love affair dwindles slightly, and there is less and less to discover as new, leaving you with the comfort of a familiar friend.

So for this blog series, I’ve been trying to avoid some of the episodes that I consider to be ‘classics’ and see if a little sabbatical from them has allowed me to view them ‘as new.’

Until now.  Welcome ‘Gambit.’

As noted in my review of ‘Weapon’, the opening moments of Blake’s 7 are sometimes interesting to explore.  But ‘Gambit’ doesn’t feel like it has a start.  I feels like we have joined half way through.  No establishing shot, no building up of the atmosphere.  Just straight into a situation involving two men in a bar.  The only thing we can work out quickly and with little effort, is that this scenario feels like it belongs in a Western.

The first line of dialogue is ‘Get up!‘  And with those two words we, the audience, are given a clear signal, that we are going to have to pick things up and work them out quickly.  The ship, the explosion, Kline, the disgruntled patient.  This is a script that is racing ahead without us, and the only person who doesn’t seem to be remotely affected by the events of this opening scene is the doorman/heavy in the background.

It took a few goes to realise that the ‘ungrateful scum’ Kline was referring to was none other than Tel Varon – Blake’s lawyer from ‘The Way Back’.  It was nice to see Michael Halsey again. I really rated this performance in that first episode.  Here though, it’s a cameo role, as Travis makes an appearance and shots him, appropriately in the arm.

The depiction of Travis in this episode is interesting to me, and his initial low key, almost inaudible introduction in the episode feels like a really satisfying way to re-invent him as a post Federation character.  Quiet, moody, menacing.  A man whose temperament is either subdued or brooding.  Perhaps quietly working on a plan of his own.  I was interested in when exactly he started to care about the location of Star One himself.  Was it to defeat Blake in his aims, or did he see it as a chance to strike vengeance on everything or everyone?  That moment was, for me, was at some point around the timeframe of this episode.

Back on the Liberator, we see a photo of Kline.  I love these impassive third hand photos.  In fact George Spenton-Foster included similar shots in his earlier episode ‘Weapon’.  I doubt these shots were taken from the ‘Spotlight’ catalogue – easy work for an actor.

There’s some none-to-subtle exposition from Jenna.
(Vila) Goodbye Docholli.
(Jenna) And goodbye to any chance of finding the Federation control center. 
Sally Knyvette might have gotten away with it if she hadn’t tightened her mouth thoughtfully after the line.  I always think they must be the trickiest lines to delivery convincingly.  Jan Chappell doesn’t have to worry about anything like that – in fact Cally shakes off any last vestiges of guerilla fighter to show off ‘a bit of leg.’  I hope that she was responsible for teaching Dayna to conceal small explosive devices in ‘City at the Edge of the World.’

More characters are introduced – the Croupier and the Klute.  This script is giving us fragments and expecting the audience to fill in the gaps.  I’m really enjoying the way Robert Holmes is writing this.   Before  five minutes are up we’ve met almost everyone.

This is an episode about atmosphere.  The clientele are as much a part of the proceedings as the events and opportunities that Freedom City offers.   Check out the cutaways of the space sick trekkers – typically 1970’s.

The scene with Krantor and Servalan is fab.  Again it shows how Blake’s 7 can slow things right down when it needs to.  Perhaps this is just as well.  There is so much we’re taking in and working out for ourselves.    The whole scene is like a chess game.  The way Krantor and Servalan attempt to manipulate each other is wonderful.  It’s stalemate for now, but we know that Servalan’s victory can’t be to far away.

This scene had me hanging on each line, and quickly I realised that it is not the story to introduce to a new viewer – it relies on prior knowledge of the series, and the immediate storylines leading up to this episode.  It is so well choreographed, and the nuances of dialogue lead me to think this might be George Spenton-Foster’s finest hour.

Back on the Liberator, Vila is playing chess, and Avon is bored.  Together they talk each other into what becomes the most fruitful move of the episode – going down, busting the casino, and returning back to the ship before Blake.  As with Holmes’s ‘Killer’ it draws together the strengths of both characters and plays them off against each other to achieve the desired result.  At the beginning of the scene it is Avon who is persuading Vila, and trying to make him understand, but by the end, it is Vila who is manipulating Orac nicely, and dictating how small the super computer needs to be, before shaking hands with his co-conspirator.

This being a Holmes script we are witness to a whole series of effective double acts.  These acts are often effective due to their use of contrast – take the power and plotting divide between Servalan and Jarriere, the difference of skills and temperament between Avon and Vila, the differing fortunes between Docholli and Chenie.  But it is the relationship between Toise and Krantor that is really interesting.  In this case, is it about what is suggested but not explained.  Krantor is clearly in charge, but is not only reliant on Toise for answers and strategy, but is also willing to be shouted over by him, and given a brutal assessment at the very end.  This dynamic give these characters a depth that belies their shallow nature.

The whole molecular reduction thing is a bit difficult to take on board – and somehow doesn’t fit in with the established science of Blake’s 7.   It reminded me of a similar moment in Doctor Who where, during ‘The Ambassadors of Death’, Jon Pertwee magically makes a computer record disappear.  Somehow it just doesn’t feel right.  Actually I like the idea that Avon and Vila would spend a good chunk of of the episode trying to bust the casino with a full size Orac, using all kinds of means and quick thinking to not make it obvious that it is a device.  It could have made a good farce.

At the bar, Travis asks for a Vitazade.  Whilst I was imagining some kind of space age stimulant, the real life Vitazade is far more terrifying.   It is ‘a soft drinks brand from Northern Ireland, well known by kids of all ages, with memorable flavours like Pineapple , Bubble Gum and Raspberry.’ Perhaps not quite in keeping with Travis’s sunny disposition.

So far, so good.  But there is a odd moment approaching, as Travis comes face to face with ‘Krantor’s rubbish collectors.  Brian Croucher makes a very strange noise, and throws his cloak over the camera like Dracula.  Then the camera seems to lose it’s way – focusing at first on the shadows against the wall, then wobbling it’s way to an unconscious Travis.  I charitably described it as very new wave.  My wife’s assessment was ‘the vaudille rubbishness of this is insane.

Meanwhile it’s not just the camera that is wobbling.  Docholli has had one too many Vitazades and is staggering to a small room behind the bar.  The idea, mentioned by Blake, that being on the run costs everything is interesting.  It’s a shame that there was no time to take this idea further.

For Krantor, things are on the up, and so early in the evening too.  Someone has decided to take on the Klute at speed chess.  It’s worth pointing out how brilliant a performance  Aubrey Woods gives here. Everything is exaggerated – voice, gestures, and poise, all in keeping with a raving egoist.  Looking at some other performances Woods has given, I can see why George Spenton-Foster cast him.

Let battle commence.

This sequence is edited a bit funny.  For example, the cut from the end of Krantor’s last line into the very start of the chess game feels like it belongs to a different time, as the extra behind him seems to lack any awareness that this is a big event about to commence.  Another dodgy cut happens during the last shot of Thrylce before he gets zapped. We don’t see the key shot of him realising he has lost.  It just cuts to the Klute laughing.

Back in Room 100 at the terminal, Servalan is hosting an unconscious Travis.  I’m guessing that she reveals a listening device that Krantor has planted, but it’s not that clear in the scene.  For ages I’ve assumed that it was a federation pendent on his person – a symbol that he can’t shake off his underlying loyalty to the administration that he has has been a part for the entirety of his natural life.   To me this make all his appearances post ‘Trial’ ever more fascinating – a character having to come to terms with his former identity, and, at the same time, work out his new one.

This scene is also interesting for the observation that Jarriere makes, when he describes Blake as a revolutionary.  It appears, even the closest aides to power, might not tow the party line.

Robert Holmes writes this episode with a customary playfulness and devil may care attitude. Some of the lines sting more so than other episodes ‘Looks like a powder puff‘ or ‘I’ll tear your face off‘ – this is a confident writer at work making the most of the unpleasant characters, and turning up their unpleasantness to ‘eleven’.  Cevedic is a nice contrast to Travis, providing a more base instinct, in comparison to the former space commander’s more tactical train of thought.  As mentioned earlier, Travis is depicted in a very particular way – a far cry from his Federation persona.  As striking as his predicament is, it is also inconsistent, as in the next episode he will be at Servalan’s side again, with his fortunes seemingly on the up from this episodes ‘Nobody knows you when you’re down and out’ vibe.

Spenton-Foster throws in some wonderful slow shots of Krantor on his bed as he listens in on Servalan planting the bomb in his arm.  He slows down the action, milking every moment of emotion from this larger than life character.

Meanwhile Avon and Vila (who also do not get much in the way of screen time) are rinsing the big wheel, with Vila celebrating with a glass of vile blue space tipple.

Then there is a moment of beauty.  Docholli and Chenie make plans to allow him to escape to freedom.  What can only be described as a valiant attempt to put on a coat spectacularly back fires, as Denis Carey fails to find the arm that doesn’t exist in the first place, and simultaneously Nicolette Roeg either puts on the coat upside down, or inside out.  Or both.  It’s such a graceful elegant maneuver that it is easy to forget that they are not succeeding in such a task.  In fact it might be one of Blake’s 7’s greatest achievements, as cast gamely carry on, clearly expecting a ‘cut’ that never arrives, and director retains it in the final edit – as though keeping it in the programme makes the audience almost completely blind to the disaster unfolding in front of them.   It’s a moment that took me out of the episode for a moment, as I imagined two professional actors performing one last scene before the 10pm ‘lights out’ in the studio.  Look at it closely – I swear both of them suppress a little laugh, or perhaps I wanted to believe that.    Upstairs in the production gallery George Spenton-Foster is possibly realising that this will just have to do.

Back at the bar, there is a battle of a different kind, as Cally and Jenna have a ‘disagreement’, allowing Blake to sneak in to find Docholli.  I love how – once we cut to Blake – the outcome of this fight is told through sound only, although it does sound like one soundbite of Jenna shouting, is repeated again and again, in another little moment of clumsiness with the direction.

The scene after the ‘fight’ of Jenna and Cally being evicted, made me realise how little they and Blake actually feature in this episode.  This is a tale of other people all maneuvering against each other, and not really getting very far in the process.  And that is alright, because the characters and dialogue is so good.

But complex maneuvers need explaining, so Holmes adds a long scene where Servalan explains the intricacies of the plot to Jarriere, and with that the wider impact outside of the episode.  It’s wordy – but it does place important context to the the episode.  Half way through, the stakes have been raised.  That’s clever writing.

With everything going on in this episode it is worth playing tribute to the most measured performance in this episode – Krantor’s cat. This is an idea clearly borrowed from Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s famous white pussy in ‘You Only Live Twice’, but unlike the James Bond feline who notably didn’t take kindly to the action taking place just before the immortal line ‘GOODBYE, MR. BOND), this kitty is positively chilled out.  I can recommend Anne Billson’s Cat’s on Film website for more on this theme. Whilst my favourite feline moment in all of film and television is Jean Luc, the moggy who looks somewhat startled in ‘Two Nights in Paris’ (2007) I rate this our Blake’s 7 friend highly – check out the image below – this cat was not afraid of breaking the forth wall!

Down in the underbelly, Travis shuffles disconsolately around.  It looks like he is at his lowest ebb, a nobody.  Having his arm disabled detaches himself from his own character, powerless, but also when he does raise a gun, it looks like the most unnatural thing he could do – he is, at this moment, just like any other character.

Nearby Blake and Docholli finally meet, with Blake leaving empty handed.  What is quite sad to see is that even this late in the series, Jenna and Cally are still being poorly served by the scripts.  Take the scene where Docholli describes the time where he operated on the technicians.  Cally says ‘But you operated on the people who built Star One’ and Jenna says ‘Then you must know where Star One is located. How could you not?’  It’s not only the fact that the lines are throwaway, but dispiriting to see the way they have to stand at the sidelines, waiting to take it in turns to utter their sole line in this scene – for me this, alongside Countdown, was the nadir of their time on the show.

We’re nearing the episode, but there are still more showdowns to be had.  This time it is between Travis and Cevedic, whose death scene is a classic ‘last dying breaths’ moments as he reveals that Travis might not be far behind him.  It’s suitably corny, although Brian Croucher’s ‘Not as quick as you‘ line is…erm…an interesting delivery.  I liked it.

Back at the big wheel, Krantor announces that a inebriated Vila has agreed to play a double of nothing game of speed chess against the Klute.  The reaction of Avon as he spits out his food is priceless, and after 20 odd years of watching this, still makes me laugh – it wouldn’t have been half as funny if it was anyone else.

Back in the docking bay, Docholli emits a huge 40-a-day wheeze, and reveals an explosive device within Travis’s arm.  The reason for it not being primed was lost on me for a long time watching this story – perhaps I originally missed it in the great chunks of exposition in the earlier scenes.  But I never dwelt on this for long as Travis delivers another classic western line ‘All right, Blake, if you’re man enough…kill me now.’

And of course there is Pat Gorman as the Trantinian captain.  For a moment I thought I was watching Doctor Who, as ‘Gorman spotting’ seems to be a distinctly Who-type affair.  Another detail is left tantalisingly up in the air.  Earlier Docholli mentioned that Trantinian’s would never accept him due to his status as a Federation citizen.  It’s another intriguing layer of the neutrality that exists within Freedom City.

Thanks to Orac, Vila forces a draw.  I was particularly interested in how the Klute responded to this game, rolling his eyes back and lapsing into some kind of catatonic state.  This character was fascinating, but equally it was frustrating that there was no time in a 50 minute episode to explore who he/it was and a bit about his background.  This is in contrast to Deep Roy’s other memorable performance in British sci-fi as Mr. Sin in Holmes’s ‘The Talons Weng Chiang’ where a great part of the characters notability is down to the fact that his background is sketched out, and his characteristics have some kind of rationale.  The Klute remains a enigma, and I must confess this was one enigma I would have loved to have known about.

So the events on Freedom City end with a defeated Krantor being berated by Toise – a final sucker punch in an interesting relationship.  It was a nice touch that he survived the episode – his death would have been a cheap shot.  It did make me wonder what his fate ultimately was.  Perhaps Servalan got her wish to clean out the gambling complex, or maybe the events of the intergalactic war might have saved his bacon – at the Federation’s hand at least.

And we end with the traditional corny Blake’s 7 ending, as for the second episode in a row, in the teleport section, we see the camera slowly zooming in on Vila and Avon, who delivers a quietly spoken pay off.

So did I view ‘Gambit’ differently after so long.  Well yes.  The novelty of this episode has long since worn off, and I was more interested in the structure of Holmes writing.  The regular cast don’t get much screen time, but what they do get is both significant and memorable.  Holmes also creates such vivid imagery and characters.  The Klute, Krantor, and Freedom City are truly memorable, and is an excellent canvas to hang all the intricate exposition on.  His penchant for double acts is also an excellent device for helping the story along.  I also took a new appreciation for the costumes of Barbara Kidd, and the make up of Ann Ailes.  In the past, I was concentrating so much on Holmes’s distinctive characters, that I went blind to how they looked – even when it was referenced in the script.

In Richard Molesworth’s excellent biography of Robert Holmes – ‘A Life in Words’ – he feels that ‘Gambit’ is perhaps not the most accomplished of Holmes’s scripts, resorting to western cliches in a futuristic setting, and that the duel narratives do not work together.  I disagree, but not solely for narrative reasons.  Avon and Vila’s attempt to break the big wheel is a perfect tonal counterpoint to the intricacies of the Blake/Krantor/Servalan/Docholli plotting.  It gives the audience some relief in what is a very wordy script, and displays an intricacy that reminds me of his recently completed, and most excellent ‘The Ribos Operation’ (1978) which contains Holmes’s unique imagination and pastiche to the full.

Molesworth isn’t well disposed to the visual direction either, stating that it looks ‘rough around the edges’.   I don’t rate George Spenton-Foster in the pantheon of great Blake’s 7 directors, but here he is on top form, and I think that is something to do with the script.  I’m not sure what he was like as a director, there doesn’t appear to be an awful lot of anecdotal information about him.  Tom Baker describes him as ‘a lovely, camp old thing‘ (8) whilst there was notable friction between him and Brian Croucher.  There is a fascinating attempt to launch a drama series in Australia, which failed spectacularly, and his resignation about the use of swearing in the early days of the British soap opera ‘Brookside.’  But it would appear that he really excels with wordy, intricate scripts featuring larger than life characters.  This plays up to his ability to make the story accessible to the audience, and how he casts actors who really work with the characters they perform.  Iain Cuthbertson and Nigel Plaskitt work so well together in ‘The Ribos Operation’ and his choice of Aubrey Woods and John Leeson is perfect too, as is the entire cast.   ‘Ribos’ and ‘Gambit’ are so similar in many ways, and for me they are definitely Spenton-Foster’s finest hour.

And was it ‘rough around the edges?  No way!  It is economical – which is a very different thing to being cheap – which I don’t think it is either.  This leads me neatly onto…

SET DESIGN

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One of the real successes of ‘Gambit’ is back to the idea behind this blog post – architecture and the use of space.  The Southbank centre is complex, full of interconnecting spaces, and this is mirrored in the overall design of ‘Gambit’ – particularly Ken Ledsham’s studio designs.

Sometimes when I watch a Blake’s 7 episode I’m imagining how big the world is that is being depicted.  Some episodes, such as ‘Weapon’ or even Ledsham’s ‘Star One’ feel like they take place in complexes that are quite small in size.  But here thanks to simple theatrical techniques, the scale of Freedom City feels quite expansive.  This is many due to mirrors, used in the bar, which extend the set design dramatically, elongating the visible area for the audience.  On the big wheel set, the use of drapes and strips of fabric on a black backdrop, hide the confines of space within the television studio.   In one of the DVD extras, Ledsham explained his approach to budget conscious set design – part set part drape.  This allowed him to spend the money on the good bits, and use cheaper sash curtains or black drapes to fill out the set.  And it’s a good idea too, allowing the main sets to have this grander feel based on his observations of circus tent design.

Elsewhere there are appropriate stylings – from the opulence of Krantor’s quarters, to the darkness of the docking bay.  These reuse the square moldings, previously seen on location in ‘Redemption’ but now sporting a darker colour, and reminding me of cubes of chocolate.  You can still purchase these scenic designs even today, alongside the certain triangular design that features heavily in Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who – but more of that another time. (9)   These are patterns that feel like a part of my experience of watching any BBC telefantasy of the 1960’s/70’s/80’s.  Elements of the circular designs used here will be seen again in ‘Star One’ and ‘Children of Auron’ – making this an economically useful series of set designs.

The sets are dressed with an array of design classics.  Two in particular include an original 1963 leather Oxford Chair (known as the ‘Professor’s Chair’) that Danish designer Arne Jacobsen produced for professors at St. Catherine’s College in Oxford.  (6)

The big wheel and bar sets include the ‘Bud Grande’ floor lamp, designed by Harvey Guzzini, which is the name of an Italian lighting manufacturer who took inspiration from the 1950 film Harvey starring James Stewart. (7)

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It is during the chess sequence that I was reminded that Dudley Simpson was not invited to this party. And for once, I think this is a good decision.  Because Freedom City is so unlike any environment I’ve seen in Blake’s 7 so far, the minimal score composed creates a unique atmosphere to a unique episode. In steps Elizabeth Parker to create her first of many distinct compositions for the series, as opposed to specific ‘special sounds’ – episodes such as ‘Dawn of the Gods’, ‘Sarcophagus’ and ‘Warlord’ will benefit from her organic approach to tonal effects.  Appropriately, ‘Gambit’ is her most playful as she uses hard rock riffs in the big wheel, using the famed 1 – 4 – 5  chord progression, something of which many classic rock and roll tracks are based.  Listening to it on it’s own, it sometimes reminds me of some of the incidental music for the TV adaptation of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (1981.)  In contrast there is some more gentle atmospheres using chimes and bells for other areas of Freedom City.  And of course there is the ‘Speed Chess’ score, which according to Parker was the first piece of music she scored to a TV picture.

HOW TO SELL THIS TO AN UNBELIEVER
Don’t try to sell this at all, just bet on them liking this.

MY FAVOURITE MOMENT
Two – Avon spitting out his food and his line ‘Well that makes it all worthwhile’.

THE MOMENT I’D RATHER FORGET
The difficulty in convincingly explaining the wider story arc in the opening scene on-board the Liberator. 

VERDICT IN 10 WORDS EXACTLY
This is great.  You’re lucky to have it my friend.

(1) http://manchesterhistory.net/architecture/1960/southbank.html

(2) https://www.westminster.ac.uk/file/6521/download?token=5QcsoxLC

(3) https://vimeo.com/87011829

(4)  Mindrup.M (2016)  The Material Imagination: Reveries on Architecture and Matter: Routeledge.

(5) https://static.dezeen.com/uploads/2015/05/Santiago-Calatrava-City-of-Arts-and-Sciences-Valencia-Palau-de-les-Arts_dezeen_ban.jpg

 

 

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