The chairs of Blake’s 7

This blog post was originally written toward the end of the two year Watching Blake’s 7 marathon.  Since then, 24 brand spanking new beacons of interior design have come to light.  To say I’m happy is an understatement.  To hear the words “You need to get out more” is also ironic, in this time of Covid-19.

So, here is a compilation all the identifiable seating seen in Blake’s 7.  In addition, I have thrown in a handful of tables, desks, lamps and other things that showcase how bloomin’ stylish Blake’s 7 was, and how the BBC props store contained a wealth of magnificent design artefacts.

And for those who want a similar catalogue of chairs featured in Doctor Who, please feel free to check out https://pinkforyouractualpterodactyl.com – a continuing project focussing on the first great age of Doctor Who (1963-89).  It’s shameless self promotion perhaps, but there are only a few hardy souls reading it, so I’ve got nothing to lose!

Anyway, back to Blake’s 7.  I hope you enjoy it, and here we go – it’s in no particular order.



Folding chair

Fred Scott, for Hille International
1960’s
Seen in ‘Animals’

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful moments in Blake’s 7, and a reminder of the sheer effort to get the series broadcast on time and on budget.  Sure, Avon slips at the end of this shot, and there’s no time for a retake, but let’s not forget the attitude in which he knocks the chair over.   I’m delighted to report that Fred Scott designed something robust enough to withstand the dirtiest ‘Dirty Harry’ kicking seen on screen up to that point.  Chair vandalism, or quality control?  You decide.



‘Terrazza’ sofa.  
  
Ubald Klug
1972
Seen in ‘The Way Back’, ‘Gambit’, ‘Stardrive’.

One of the quintessential sci-fi sofas, which featured prominently in Logan’s Run and Doctor Who (think The Robots of Death).  Klug based it on topography, landscapes, terrain.  It divides the critics; “A monstrous thing” or “It’s like something from outer space landed in your living room” or “They have this cheeky, orgy vibe and encourage all these weird ways of sitting.”  With that in mind, this sofa is the true test of an actors mettle – being able to sit convincingly on it.  I once had a dream that the desert featured in the Fry’s Turkish Delight advert from the early 1980’s were made from these.



Lotus
Paul Boulva for Artopex
1976
Seen in ‘Trial’, ‘Gambit’

Very pleased to find this one.  This chair was originally crafted for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.  In Blake’s 7 it is also present at moments of contest, combat and competition, whether it is Travis fighting for his life, or Jenna and Cally testing out prototype ‘Queen Vic’ barroom brawls.  Man alive, this chair has seen some stuff.



Vitramat 20

Wolfgang Mueller Deisig
1976
Seen in ‘Dawn of the Gods’

This German designed office chair was described by Vitra as offering correct posture.  The proof of the pudding is observing how Tarrant and Avon formally take their places at the Maths table on Crandor.  Top of the class.
Its not a staple of BBC sci-fi, although its sleek design and mechanics suggest that it should be.



Vela Executive Chair
Giovanni Offredi
1970’s
Seen in ‘Rumours of Death’

It makes complete sense that, when flaunting a new presidential palace, one should give orders and generally bad news from a stylish, and rather obscure chair.  I’m drawn to the bonkers base, and curved arm rests. This one reclines slightly, allowing for extra gravitas and general “I’m in command, bring my cigarette holder to me” vibe.



Vertebra Chair System

Emilio Ambasz and Giancarlo Piretti
1976
Seen in ‘Assassin’, ‘Games’, ‘Sand’ and ‘Orbit’

This pops up quite a few times in season D, and features in a Doctor Who or two.  Again the emphasis is on correct posture and back support.  Personally, I admire this chair, but its inclusion in a sci-fi drama looks more like space age flight deck meets 1980’s call centre.



Coulsdon side chair

William Plunkett
1960’s
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’

These rather elegant leather and chrome chairs are the first of many chair sightings on the Ortega.  Life must have hanged heavy for the weary crew.  But it’s comforting to know that they played endless ‘space battleships’ games, and glanced at each other suspiciously, while sat in style.  All before the proverbial hit the fan.



‘Mitcham’ armchair

William Plunkett
1965
Seen in ‘Breakdown’.

Another Plunkett design.  This cantilever design has been my proverbial search for ‘Star One’, taking an eternity to find, and even then I only found it via brain print, using a trigger phrase.



Comforto
Charles Pollock
1970’s
Seen in ‘Voice from the Past’, ‘Gold’.

High backed version of the more familiar Pollock design.  For some reason I always imagined this to be the best kind of chair to launch yourself backwards and glide along the floor at speed, when no one is looking.  Or, the cast playing chair tennis on the Liberator flight deck, with Gareth Thomas strapped into it.    So many possibilities, so little time.



‘Tulip’ Dining Table 42″

Eero Saarinen
1957
Seen in ‘Aftermath’

Eero Saarinen was confronting the “ugly, confusing, unrestful world”.  And the result is a total success in my eyes.  A timeless classic.  This range is something I associate with telefantasy, and slips into any set design with ease.



‘Tulip’ Chair

Eero Saarinen
1956
Seen in ‘Gambit’

Another classic, designed to go with the table. “I wanted to clear up the slum of legs”, said Saarinen.  Therefore, probably quite apt for Freedom City.   The curves and fibreglass moulding shout ‘space age’.  I’m surprised that it didn’t get used more in Blake’s 7.



Designer sun lounger.

Late 1960’s / early 1970’s
Designer unknown
Seen in ‘The Web’

These fibreglass beauts are a reminder that aliens, who have lost their identity, and are part of the Auronar, need to take time out and relax with an ice cold drink in their hand.



Tractor stool

Rodney Kinsman
1960’s
Seen in ‘Volcano’, The Harvest of Kairos’, ‘Children of Auron’

Some classic British design here, as Kinsman takes influences from past decades and gives it a new spin.  Looking at Servalan’s cruiser set from season C, it looks like the metallic feel is designed around the stools, and not the other way around.  It also adds to the idea that the crew are not people, but machines designed to press buttons.



Venus

Pieff of Worcester.
1970’s
Seen in ‘Volcano’.

Those idealists on Obsidian, have two things to consider ideal: the vow they all live by, and generally being docile in a fine assortment of chairs.  The wicker and brass frame, houses a leather cushion that screams ‘lounge’.  Oh, and it matches their white attire.  Peace out.



Elda

Joe Colombo
1963
Seen in ‘Seek – Locate – Destroy’, ‘Deliverance’.

This forward thinking beaut was named after Columbo’s wife.  While Servalan will occupy it in season A, there was clearly a rethink the following year, as she sat in a couple of custom built designs.  But what a design!



Danish X Line Stacking Chairs
Niels Jørgen Haugesen for Hybodan AS
1977
Seen in ‘Traitor’


Order, Servalan! That is all that is important“.  And what can be more ordered than surveying corpses on a grid floor, safe in the knowledge that the chairs are stackable.



Boby storage unit

Joe Columbo
1971
Seen in ‘Traitor’

While we’re here, let’s admire another one of Joe Columbo’s forward thinking designs.  This storage units has done the rounds, from office, to medical institutions, and here, in a Federation unit.



Contour Chaise and Lounge Chair

Richard Schultz
1966
Seen in ‘Death-Watch’

Another timeless design, moving away from the temptation to use fibreglass.  A curio in sci-fi, I can only think of this being used on the planet Teal.  A planet that doesn’t have mass bloodshed during a war, must be pretty big on joyous multitudes lounging around.



Reigate Rocking Chair
William Plunkett
1964
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’, “Orac’

Great chair.  Blake’s 7 always ahead of the times, with characters living in self isolation.



Platner Arm chair

Warren Platner
1966
Seen in ‘Orac’

Described as “decorative, gentle, graceful”, this is a chair that feels like it belongs in Ensor’s eclectic mish-mash of artefacts.  As it is, we only get a fleeting glimpse.



Polo stool

Paolo Parigi, for Parigi Heron
1975
Seen in ‘Children of Auron’.

I have a lot of time for this stool.  Its name is self explanatory, and based on its appearances in other BBC sci-fi series, appears to be suited to control centre operations (think ‘Warriors of the Deep’).  This white version is a super rare find, of a already rare stool.



Piretti Folding Table

Giancarlo Piretti
1971
Seen in ‘The Way Back’, ‘Trial’.

Perfectly suited to the Federation uniform style.  I would have been honoured to take my GCSE’s on this type of desk, rather than the camping tables that my school could afford.  I might have done better too.



Plona Folding Chair

Giancarlo Piretti
1969
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’.

Wonderful look to this chair, and lends weight to the idea that the population of Destiny were far better at sitting in style, than looking after their own planet.



Sectional sofa

De Sede
Early 1970’s
Seen in ‘Aftermath’, ‘The Harvest of Kairos’, ‘Moloch’

A good rival to the ‘Terrazza’ for my affections.  This is a quintessential season C sofa, which witnessed “women, food, and inflicting pain…in no particular order.”  One of the more obscure De Sede sectional sofas.  Some listings have called it ‘Talisman’ – whether that is its real name remains to be seen.



Chrome and leather ribbed chair

Unknown
1970’s
Seen in ‘Aftermath’.

A blink and you’ll miss it chair.  Mind you it pops up here and there.  In Doctor Who, what are the Movellans watching?  Well, whatever it is, it is in this chair.   Meanwhile, in the BBC Pebble Mill foyer, Paul Coia interviews Nicholas Courtney, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, and Mary Tamm.  Yep, those are the grade A details you have all signed up for!



Pieff ‘Eleganza’ chair collection.
Tim and David Bates
1969
Seen in ‘The Way Back’, ‘Space Fall’, ‘Powerplay’, ‘Death-Watch’.

Think ‘This is Your Life’, dreary 1980’s Conservative party conferences, and Sunday lunchtime political discussion shows.  Despite this, you know all is well because, when Pat Gorman’s guard dies in ‘Powerplay’, he expired while sitting on a design classic.



‘Oxford’ high backed chair
Arne Jacobsen
1963
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’

A chair that speaks ‘prestige’ and ‘status’.  Made for professors at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University.



‘Oxford’ high backed armchair
Arne Jacobsen
1963
Seen in ‘Gambit’

A chair that speaks ‘prestige’ and ‘status’.  Made for professors at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University.  The professors who had arms, presumably.



Omkstak
Rodney Kinsman
1971
Seen in ‘Hostage’, ‘Aftermath’, ‘Dawn of the Gods’, ‘City at the Edge of the World’.

Another timeless classic.  Creeps into a lot of telefantasy, when the script demands functional style, rather than space age aesthetic.



Brass and textile armchair

Willy Rizzo
1970’s
Seen in ‘Gambit’.

The brass gives it an opulence that is perfect for Freedom City.  Stratford Johns once sat on it, while dressed as a frog – sometimes the reality doesn’t match the image.



Oryx writing desk

Vittorio Parigi and Nani Prina
1970
Seen in ‘Countdown’, ‘Gambit’ (in a modified form).

So much to love about this desk.  The version seen in Blake’s 7 appears to be bastardised, inspired or at the very least a variant of the original design.  It’s a close call, but it deserves to make the list for how brilliant the original desk is.



Moby Dick chair

Alberto Rosselli
1971
Seen in ‘Rumours of Death’.

The constant search for innovation is the theme here.  It also appears in James Bond, where Barbara Bach is tied up to it, proving that Jacqueline Pearce had competition for masturbatory fantasies.



Plush Kicker chrome chair

Peter Wigglesworth and R.V. Exton
1968
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’, ‘Traitor’.

Echoing Bauhaus, this is a late 1960’s design that clearly found favour in Blake’s 7 for situations where characters needed to be sociable, such as eating a three course dinner, and… er… waiting to be blown up.



R
attan and Leather Lounge Chair
Gerard Van Den Berg
1970’s
Seen in ‘Volcano’.

If Michael Gough hadn’t sat in this, it would have made a good alternative for the White Guardian in late 70’s Doctor Who.  The whopping Rattan frame, means it’s good chair for leaders to take an afternoon nap in.



Lampione floor lamp

Fabio Lenci
1968
Seen in ‘Killer’.

Part street light, part floor lamp.  Put the two together and you have excellence.  Also features in late 1970’s Gallifrey.



Chrome dining table

Renato Zevi
1970’s
Seen in ‘Moloch’

It’s a bit chinzy, so therefore it’s so right for Sardos.  It complements the Milo Baughman inspired brass chairs.



IBM chair

Vico Magistretti
1980
‘Seen in ‘Animals’, ‘Assassin’.

The gap between market release and recording dates, are a consideration here.  It’s a  straight off the shelf chair, about as contemporary as Blake’s 7 would get.  It’s about the only highlight of Sleer’s rather drab yet chintzy cruiser.  Also found in Doctor Who on Deva Loka.



Wilkhahn Delta office chair

‘The Delta Group’.
1968
Seen in ‘Death-Watch’

I always felt this was a chair that said “Don’t mess with me“.  So there was an irony that it is was delicate Max who sat in it.



Chadwick Modular Seating

Don Chadwick
1974
Seen in ‘Redemption’, ‘Powerplay’, ‘Death-Watch’, ‘Traitor’, ‘Gold’.

As classic as this design is, it will always be the ‘Frank Bough’ sofa for me, as seen when he interviewed Tom Baker on Nationwide.  Sometimes seating can be typecast too, but sometimes not in the way it would hope to be.



Synthesis 45 Office Furniture System

Ettore Sottsass
1972
Seen in ‘The Way Back’

A curio.  Not seen often.  Intriguing design though.  Ergonomic is the theme, meaning those Federation guards working long shifts will preserve good posture.



Eames Soft Pad Chaise ES 106

Charles and Ray Eames
1968
Seen in ‘Voice from the Past’.

This was designed for Billy Wilder, who wanted a recliner that would allow him to take a short nap during filming breaks, presumably with accompanying tone oscillation.  Renounce Renounce!



Leather and chrome cantilever dining chair

Unknown
1970’s
Seen in ‘Seek Locate Destroy’, ‘Deliverance’, ‘Death-Watch’

It’s a quite nice cantilevered design in its own way.  Fairly obscure.  Always seemed to be the type of chair that sat at the back of a set.



Eames Aluminium Group Management Chair

Charles and Ray Eames
1958
Seen in ‘Project Avalon’, ‘Sarcophagus’.

The ‘Mad Men’ of the office chair.  A design classic, and a Liberator favourite.  These days it’s slightly tempered by the fact that it seems to be the chair of choice in estate agents across the land.



Desk Chair for Arnold Exclusiv

Preben Fabricius & Jørgen Kastholm
1960’s
Seen in ‘Voice from the Past’, ‘Death-Watch’.

I’m 95% certain this is the chair, even though the version seen at the rear of the rest room isn’t a swivel base.  Either way it is upstaged by Gareth Thomas’ nostrils, and Paul Darrow’s judo chop.



De Sede DS11 Modular Sofa

De Sede
1970’s
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’, ‘Death-Watch’.

One of those sofas that I’m convinced has appeared in more episodes than it actually has.  In Doctor Who, it was flipped, turned upside down, for the R1C in ‘Underworld’.



De Sede DS88 Modular Sofa

De Sede
1970’s
Seen in ‘Voice from the Past’

A bit harsher in design than the DS11.  Perfect for the functionality of Asteroid PK-118.  “Wretched mining companies.  No sense of aesthetics!



De Sede DS80 Modular Sofa

De Sede
1969
Seen in ‘City at the Edge of the World’

Personally I would look for something more softer and luxurious to enjoy my final moments, but hey, sometimes you have to treat every hour like it’s your last.



Viggen chair

Börje Johanson for Johanson Design
1970’s.
Seen in ‘Stardrive’

Echoes of the tulip chair are present in the design, although I doubt that was in the mind of poor Napier, when he was contemplating how to keep the Space Rats happy in the absence of Dr. Plaxton.



Contempra Telephone

Northern Telecom
1968
Seen in ‘Deliverance’.

Move over, trim phone.



Vicario chair

Vico Magistretti
1972
Seen in ‘Killer’.

This chair only makes a fleeting glimpse in ‘Killer’, and is something I associate with other, more expensive, series.  Probably been in Space 1999.



LEM (Lunar Excursion Module)

Joe Columbo
1964 (steel version 1972).
Seen in ‘Mission to Destiny’.


A fine Columbo design.  The name says it all.  Alas, with the destruction of the Ortega, it is scattered across space, along with bits of Sara.



Cassina LC4 Chaise Lounge

Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand
1928
Seen in ‘Orac’, ‘Powerplay’, ‘Traitor’

Sometimes the far future meets 20th century design and no one bats an eyelid.  This is one of those examples.  Another classic.



S70-3 stool

Borge Lindau and Bo Lindekrantz, for Lammhults
1968
Seen in ‘Countdown’.

Another blink and you’ll miss it.  Major Provine shows complete contempt for this stool, by placing his Federation helmet on it.  Outrageous!



Ghia dining chair

Charles Gibilterra for Breuton
1970’s
Seen in ‘Voice from the Past’.

Based on a design classic – the 1930’s Brno chair by Mies can Der Rohe – this comes in a couple of different variations in frame.  Either way, it sits almost undetectable – virtually invisible – in the background of a set.  You have to wonder how good those props buyers had it.



Sorella lamp

Harvey Guzzini
1972
Seen in ‘Weapon’.

Pure Space 1999.  No more to be said.



40/4 stackable chair

David Rowland
1964
Seen in ‘Weapon’, ‘Animals’.

A classic in the stacking world, and a clear indication of how functional and stylish a deserted base in Blake’s 7 is!



Pileo floor lamp

Gae Aulenti
1972
Seen in ‘Killer’, ‘Voice from the Past’.

Another staple of 1970’s small screen sci-fi, and another design that made its way into late 1970’s Gallifrey.  In Blake’s 7 it doubles as a space age sink with water fountain.  This is probably not what Aulenti had in mind, but hats off for the idea!



Cado 291

Steen Ostergaard
1969
Seen in ‘Rumours of Death’.

Apparently this chair was a staple in US prisons, as it was easy to clean, and had no legs that could be used as a weapon.  This classic, like the Tulip chair, is one that I would have expected to feature in Blake’s 7 more than it did.



Scimitar easychair  

Preben Fabricius & Jørgen Kastholm
1960’s
Seen in ‘Volcano’, ‘The Harvest of Kairos’, ‘Children of Auron’.

This might be my favourite chair of the lot.  I mean, if you’re going to infect someone with an alien pathogen, and risk the lives of everyone on a planet, then ensure it’s done with style, and in close proximity to chrome and brown leather.



‘Alpha’ sling chair

Maurice Burke for Pozza
1960’s
Seen in ‘Volcano’

Apparently this is the chair to press the big red button in, as apparently wicker is not de rigueur in these situations.



Platignum Pen Holder

Unknown
1970’s
Seen in ‘Dawn of the Gods’.

And why not?


 

That is the Blake’s 7 list.

There are a few chairs that are elusive.  But I will keep looking, until I’m arrested.  If you can help, I’ll be pleased to hear from you.


I know these mysteries will be solved, and in time, I’m sure they will be added to this list.  There are plenty of other bits of furniture that are a knock off, a reproduction, or a variant of an established design, but without a clear identification of the designer or studio, they have not made it to the list.  Many of the individual blog posts for each episode include these possibilities.

That leaves this chair.  The holy grail of BBC chairage.  After two years of writing this blog series, I still can’t seem to identify it.  This leaves me to consider the possibility that it is a BBC design, or more likely a cheaper ‘tribute’ to another design.  It’s been seen on Gallifrey in ‘The Three Doctors’ (which also features Servalan’s season B chair) Federation Earth, and Fosforon.  It is also frequently seen on the Liberator flight deck. Either way, it’s the starting point of a new journey.

Answers on a postcard.

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The chairs of Blake’s 7

  1. Your mystery holy grail chair – that’s possibly a BBC design and is used in the Three Doctors – is also used in Genesis of the Daleks – sprayed matt grey.
    I’ve been trying to find out more about it as well

    Like

  2. Pingback: THE CHAIRS OF DOCTOR WHO – Season 10.

  3. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 4/24/20 Fillie And The Poor Gods Are Stalkin’, Bring A Pixel, Scroll Your Feet | File 770

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