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Who is your Favourite Guest Rebel?

Avalon - (Project Avalon)
Avalon - (Project Avalon)
22% [45 Votes]

Selma - (Horizon)
Selma - (Horizon)
4% [8 Votes]

Tyce - (Bounty)
Tyce - (Bounty)
15% [30 Votes]

Norm One - (Redemption)
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7% [15 Votes]

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Kasabi - (Pressure Point)
15% [30 Votes]

Hal Mellanby - (Aftermath)
Hal Mellanby - (Aftermath)
17% [34 Votes]

Hunda - (Traitor)
Hunda - (Traitor)
4% [8 Votes]

Deva - (Blake)
Deva - (Blake)
13% [26 Votes]

4% [8 Votes]

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Started: 09 July 2016

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Audio Review: Battleground – Ep 1.2 of Big Finish's Classic Audio Series

BLAKE'S 7 - THE CLASSIC AUDIO ADVENTURES - Episode 1.2: Battleground

Review by Jackie Emery

Gareth Thomas (Blake), Paul Darrow (Avon), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Michael Keating (Vila), Jan Chappell (Cally) and Alistair Lock (Zen and Orac)
with Dan Starkey as Voss Ferrell, Tim Bentinck as Abel Garmon and Abigail Hollick as Alexa

Written by Andrew Smith
Sound Design by Martin Montague
Music by Jamie Robertson
Directed by Ken Bentley
Produced by David Richardson for Big Finish Productions

Blake and the crew of the Liberator have a new mission – and their target is on Straxis, a planet also known as Battleground 9. Straxis is a training ground for thousands of Federation troops, and the Liberator has journeyed directly into their sights. Has Blake finally picked a battle he cannot possibly win?

In Episode Two of this full cast series-within-a-series, Battleground continues the story arc that began in the final scene of Fractures. The crew have decided to put their search for Star One on hold while they investigate the new technology that enables the Federation to intercept Tariel Cell based communications. Orac has helpfully provided them with a name associated with the Federation's project – Mikalov. Blake and his crew don't yet know whether Mikalov is a person, a place or project code, but they have to find out...

While Fractures was a 'bottle episode', set entirely on board the Liberator, Battleground has most of the story taking place on location, so to speak. It's fast paced, from the pre-title sequence of Blake calling desperately for teleport to its cliff-hanger ending. There is action on board the ship, and battle scenes a-plenty on the planet Straxis, where Blake and Avon find themselves encountering new enemies and unexpected allies.

Once again, the regular actors step back into their roles as if they've never been away, and there are some very interesting new characters. Dan Starkey plays the deeply unpleasant Federation officer Voss Ferrell, whose actions are reminiscent of Travis' worst excesses. I was slightly amused at the thought of Strax on Straxis, and wondered whether the name of the planet had suggested the choice of casting, or vice versa. Abigail Hollick plays Alexa, a battle observer and strategist, who has some great scenes with Ferrell and later with Avon. But of all the guest actors, I most enjoyed hearing Tim Bentinck as rebel leader Garmon. As a fan of the long-running radio soap The Archers, I found it deliciously surreal to first listen to Tim playing the farmer David Archer, delivering lambs and complaining about his wife's cooking, then an hour later playing a rebel leading an attack on an alien planet. In the CD extras, Tim reminisces about acting with Gareth in By the Sword Divided, the BBC Civil War series made in the early1980s. They hadn't worked together since, and now he was delighted not only to be working with Gareth again, but actually in Blake's 7.

As with all Big Finish's audios, the production values are high. The familiar sounds of the Liberator are lovingly recreated, there are good effects for both the noisy action scenes and the quieter dialogue ones. The music is subtle, unobtrusive and appropriate throughout. The dialogue is excellent, and there are some neat references to past events and exploits undertaken by the Liberator's crew, which help to root this episode within the series canon.

Unfortunately, like much of the original series, the action is unequally distributed among the main characters. Down on the planet, Blake and Avon have the lion's share of the action, while back on the Liberator, Vila, Jenna and Cally are left with rather less to do. Warship admirably managed to provide each character with a fair amount of air time, and I hope a similar balance will be restored in later episodes.

With the series story arc developing in an intriguing way, a cliff-hanger ending to this episode and a teaser trailer for the next one, I'm really looking forward to next month's release of Drones!

Battleground comes with a nice selection of extras. In addition to the aforementioned trailer, there's a copy of Vortex issue 60 (which includes an interview with Jan Chappell), and another series of short but highly enjoyable interviews with the cast and crew.

Battleground is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here: 1.2 Battleground
Details of forthcoming episodes in this series are here: Full Cast Series
The full range of Big Finish's B7 range is here: B7 from Big Finish


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