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Nosy question for ye olde B7 fans and other knowledgable people
guiser
I've got a copy of the "Machiavelli Factor "fanzine. It is a reprint but the original was published in 1982. A preface to the reprint says that the writer had to make a minor change due to now having access to the video tapes of series 1. Now I'm wondering about fandom in general and fic writing in particular back in the old days.

Does anybody know if off-air video tapes circulated widely amongst fans before sell-through videos were available? Or were VCRs too rare and expensive at the time? Did people in the 80s have transcripts or audio tape recordings a la Doctor Who? I know that the transcripts that you can get on the web (hermit and lysator) were done in the early 90s. Also, did video tapes of the show get shown at the earliest British conventions or were there smaller meetups where people gathered to view off-air video tapes? I've heard that early American fandom relied on off-air recordings, but don't know much about British fandom. Alternatively, did some people write fic purely from memory using episode guides etc?
 
JustBrad
VCR's were not particularly prevalent when B7 first aired in Chicago, back in 1985. They were virtually nonexistent for home use in 1978, at least in the States.
 
BradPaula
I can say that with the premiere of Blake's 7 here in Chicago back in September of 1985, I watched the entire series and luckily our local station replayed it again and by that time I was ready with my audio cassette tapes- which I taped the second showing using 30 minute per side tapes and hurriedly changed the cassettes as not to miss much of each episode. After that, we decided to buy a VCR and again luckily, our station played Blake's 7 again and I taped them all. I still have those video tapes and am loathe to give them up. They were very well used and believe me, I was glad to have the series taped.

I do know that tapes did circulate amongst fans and that the old fan run conventions often showed second or third generation tapes which had been taped off the air, as that was the only way to see the series unless you sat there in your living room and watched while it was being aired.

Lysator was also an early boon to fans of the series. Oh, the good old days! -Paula
Edited by BradPaula on 23 September 2014 00:30:22
Zil: Oneness must resist the Host.
 
Joe Dredd
I was never aware of any video tapes circulating; everyone I knew was reliant on audio recordings and episode guides. If you didn't have tapes you could buy them from other fans.

Attwood's Programme Guide was the definitive point of reference, being pretty much all there was. There were things like Tariel Cell, but more people had Attwood.

I can remember getting the Mickey DuPree & co transcripts sent to me on a floppy disc in the mail, though by that time we'd moved on from the 5.25" floppies to the 3.5" hardshell type.

In short, my experience was memory, episode guides, Attwood and audio tape.
 
littlesue
I had to rely on memory as in 1978 VCRs were only a dream...for me anyway. In 1985 Hubby and I had to get a loan to cover the cost of getting one of these new fangled things.
Anyway, at Teal Vandor Uncle Vere brought along the actual film of that moment in Aftermath when Avon tried to get Orac and has a punch up with one of the Sarrans...he ran it several times, on a projector to show us the two people who didn't get the message about filming taking place. It was too late to go back and reshoot.
I think they also showed the filmed Bloopers.
At the conventions I went to, I think they showed videos, but only of certain episodes that had been given clearance.
My friend Sylvie got a VCR soon after and recorded the 3rd series and I was over there, in Waterlooville, watching her home copies..we nearly wore them out, so any writing that I did back then was based on Series C.
Then we got our VCR....and one of my friends in Aussieland sent me her copy of the first 3 and half episodes of Series A. I still have that tape!
I managed to record the final series when it was repeated, and then as soon as the Beeb tapes came out.....well, to see all series A and B again (they were never repeated by the Beeb, although some did sneak on later on and then Gold showed them as well) was an absolute treat.
I think alot of us oldies were relying on our memories, but as soon as we found people who had their own recordings we would make arrangements to get together at each others houses.
Incidently, one of the first Fan Vids, Rebel Run,by Dan and Dave Bowden was made on Video tape from their videos of Series C. I understand Send in the Clowns was made the same way but had Series D in it as well. I'm still waiting for that video to reappear!
But we should be grateful that the Beeb didn't wipe B7 as they did their other programmes...Adam Adamant, (some episodes of) Doomwatch, Counterstrike......
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!


sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
 
Grade Four Ignorant
I'm sure the three novelisations played a part. There were three in total, each based upon certain episodes:

Blake's 7 - The Way Back, Space Fall, Cygnus Alpha & Time Squad.

Project Avalon - Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel, Project Avalon, Deliverance & Orac.

Scorpio Attack - Rescue, Traitor & Stardrive.

In the United Kingdom at least, the BBC issued a video entitled The Beginning in 1985 which contained excerpts from the first four episodes edited into a ninety minute adventure. It was followed in 1986 by the similarly edited Duel (containing material from Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel and Project Avalon) and Orac, which again followed the same format but using the last two episodes of Season A and the first episode of Season B. A final tape, entitled The Aftermath which edited down Aftermath, Powerplay and Sarcophagus was released exclusively in Australia in 1986 but was rereleased in the UK along with the other three tapes in 1990.
Edited by Grade Four Ignorant on 23 September 2014 21:02:35
 
Joe Dredd
littlesue wrote:

one of my friends in Aussieland sent me her copy of the first 3 and half episodes of Series A.


Anyone we might know, Sue? (If you feel you can say.)
 
rojkerr1
I got a betamax video recorder, just in time to tape BLAKE!
 
guiser
Lots of interesting replies to my post. I'll reply to you all later (too busy today), but in the meantime, I will post a link to a website that I came across which details the early history of video recorders, just in case anyone is interested (it is mainly British focused but features important US developments as well).

http://www.totalr...inhall.htm
 
Travisina
There were often intense debates, due to people slightly mis-remembering dialogue.

One example was a whole spate of discussion about whether Cally said to Blake: "Thousands of people will die without Star One" or "Millions of people will die without Star One" - in fact, her line is: "Many, many people will die without Star One."
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
littlesue
Joe Dredd wrote:

littlesue wrote:

one of my friends in Aussieland sent me her copy of the first 3 and half episodes of Series A.


Anyone we might know, Sue? (If you feel you can say.)


It was over 30 years ago and I cannot, for the life of me. remember who!!!
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!


sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
 
rojkerr1
I was going to be on holiday during a repeat of Sand so I asked my grandma to videotape it on my machine, the old sony betamax were massive and heavy, I took it to her flat in a wheelbarrow, connected it all up and labelled the piano key switches very clearly. She managed to press play instead of record and spent an hour watching Siouxsie and the banshees in concert. The worrying thing was she genuinely couldn't tell the difference between that and Blakes 7....
 
Travisina
Horizon meetings used to centre around getting together at somebody's house to watch B7 episodes on video, discussing them as we watched. A bit like today's Horizon Rewatches, only with people actually together in the same room rather than on different continents!
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
BradPaula
Travisina is correct. You tell newer fans about the early days of our fandom and they stare wide-eyed. The old pencil and paper days when we'd be happy for a newsletter every quarter year and the same for the letterzine which came about later. Imagine reading someone's post, replying to it and reading it 3 months- or more- later. Talk about snail mail. But it was the latest idea then and we were fervent fans and glad of the chance to communicate with each other. There was no internet, no digital cameras- really primitive, but we persevered and look where we are now! I look back with rose-colored glasses upon the old days but I'm mighty glad we are where we are and can instantaneously post and send files and photos to one another at a moments notice. Amazing. -Paula
Zil: Oneness must resist the Host.
 
Lurena
In my country only series 1 (1979) and series 2 (1982) were aired.
I watched them in black-and-white!
Then Blake's 7 got banned from our TV.
But a student friend of mine had connections with students in Belgium, who were huge B7 fans. One of them provided us a Betamax recording of series 3. We watched it kind of secretly in the University media room! Oh romantic old days....
Lara&Sue's Blake's 7 stories
*No, I am not. I am not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going.*
 
http://lectorisalutem.webs.com/
guiser
JustBrad wrote:

VCR's were not particularly prevalent when B7 first aired in Chicago, back in 1985. They were virtually nonexistent for home use in 1978, at least in the States.


I'm pretty sure that it was similar in the U.K. in the 1970s. VCRs were just rich men's toys or for institutional use. It looks like U.K. VCR ownership was only just starting to widen around the time series 4 was originally shown.

BradPaula wrote:

I can say that with the premiere of Blake's 7 here in Chicago back in September of 1985, I watched the entire series and luckily our local station replayed it again and by that time I was ready with my audio cassette tapes- which I taped the second showing using 30 minute per side tapes and hurriedly changed the cassettes as not to miss much of each episode. After that, we decided to buy a VCR and again luckily, our station played Blake's 7 again and I taped them all. I still have those video tapes and am loathe to give them up. They were very well used and believe me, I was glad to have the series taped.

I do know that tapes did circulate amongst fans and that the old fan run conventions often showed second or third generation tapes which had been taped off the air, as that was the only way to see the series unless you sat there in your living room and watched while it was being aired.

Lysator was also an early boon to fans of the series. Oh, the good old days! -Paula


3 repeats of the whole series! Lucky you! Poor old British fans, the BBC wasn't so generous!

I wonder if B7 was shown on a number of tv stations in the States in the mid-80s, because a lot of early U.S. zines date from that period. However, the earliest U.S. zine I know of is "Fifth Season" from 1982 (don't have a copy unfortunately). Does anyone have any dates for other US showings, I wonder? I suppose investigating all possible showings in the States would be a bit of a monumental task given all the local stations etc!

I've skimmed the first few years of Lysator (thank you Winnie for the unzipped files!) and I'm really glad I had a chance to look at the early list archives. B7 really seems to attract a lot of intelligent fans whose comments and discussions are well worth reading.
 
guiser
Joe Dredd wrote:

I was never aware of any video tapes circulating; everyone I knew was reliant on audio recordings and episode guides. If you didn't have tapes you could buy them from other fans.

Attwood's Programme Guide was the definitive point of reference, being pretty much all there was. There were things like Tariel Cell, but more people had Attwood.

I can remember getting the Mickey DuPree & co transcripts sent to me on a floppy disc in the mail, though by that time we'd moved on from the 5.25" floppies to the 3.5" hardshell type.

In short, my experience was memory, episode guides, Attwood and audio tape.


Ah, so it looks as if both British and American fans made audio tapes of the show and they circulated widely, at least in the U.K. I would never have realised this possibility if it wasn't for the fact that I read about lost Who episodes being available as audios due to fan recordings.

I'm no writer, but I bet those transcripts were a godsend to fanfic writers. In fact I suspect you could probably detect exactly when they started to affect people's writing. Indeed, they might even have been more of a profound influence than possession of the videotapes.
 
guiser
littlesue wrote:

I had to rely on memory as in 1978 VCRs were only a dream...for me anyway. In 1985 Hubby and I had to get a loan to cover the cost of getting one of these new fangled things.
Anyway, at Teal Vandor Uncle Vere brought along the actual film of that moment in Aftermath when Avon tried to get Orac and has a punch up with one of the Sarrans...he ran it several times, on a projector to show us the two people who didn't get the message about filming taking place. It was too late to go back and reshoot.
I think they also showed the filmed Bloopers.
At the conventions I went to, I think they showed videos, but only of certain episodes that had been given clearance.
My friend Sylvie got a VCR soon after and recorded the 3rd series and I was over there, in Waterlooville, watching her home copies..we nearly wore them out, so any writing that I did back then was based on Series C.
Then we got our VCR....and one of my friends in Aussieland sent me her copy of the first 3 and half episodes of Series A. I still have that tape!
I managed to record the final series when it was repeated, and then as soon as the Beeb tapes came out.....well, to see all series A and B again (they were never repeated by the Beeb, although some did sneak on later on and then Gold showed them as well) was an absolute treat.
I think alot of us oldies were relying on our memories, but as soon as we found people who had their own recordings we would make arrangements to get together at each others houses.
Incidently, one of the first Fan Vids, Rebel Run,by Dan and Dave Bowden was made on Video tape from their videos of Series C. I understand Send in the Clowns was made the same way but had Series D in it as well. I'm still waiting for that video to reappear!
But we should be grateful that the Beeb didn't wipe B7 as they did their other programmes...Adam Adamant, (some episodes of) Doomwatch, Counterstrike......


This is really interesting. It never occurred to me to consider the attitude of the BBC to off-air recordings, or consider that conventions would solicit their permission before showing episodes. I wonder if the actual episodes were loaned by the BBC? I suppose the conventions of those days showed both the benefits and perils of being close to the powers that be!

Interesting that you had access to series 3 and then series 4 but didn't get all of the rest of the series until later. Also the fact that Antipodean fans were sending coals to Newcastle because they got the episodes slightly later! A lot of early U.K. fanfic that I have read does seem to me to be quite tilted towards series 3 and 4 and I suppose that makes a lot of sense because these series were not too much of a distant memory and people were far more likely to have seen recordings (especially with the repeats of series 4). When I first read early fic I thought this was due to fans being obsessed with Avon and particularly enjoying the series where he was dominant. Clearly other factors were also at work!

And goodness, I've never thought about the possibility that B7 could have been wiped. Clearly, if it had been transmitted only a few years earlier.....gulp!
Edited by guiser on 27 September 2014 21:57:23
 
guiser
Grade Four Ignorant wrote:

I'm sure the three novelisations played a part. There were three in total, each based upon certain episodes:

Blake's 7 - The Way Back, Space Fall, Cygnus Alpha & Time Squad.

Project Avalon - Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel, Project Avalon, Deliverance & Orac.

Scorpio Attack - Rescue, Traitor & Stardrive.

In the United Kingdom at least, the BBC issued a video entitled The Beginning in 1985 which contained excerpts from the first four episodes edited into a ninety minute adventure. It was followed in 1986 by the similarly edited Duel (containing material from Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel and Project Avalon) and Orac, which again followed the same format but using the last two episodes of Season A and the first episode of Season B. A final tape, entitled The Aftermath which edited down Aftermath, Powerplay and Sarcophagus was released exclusively in Australia in 1986 but was rereleased in the UK along with the other three tapes in 1990.


Thanks for the info. I never thought of the novelisations! Doh! And this despite the fact that I only just found my original copy of the novelisation of "The Way Back" after looking for it for 4 years, on and off. Yep, I was a kiddie B7 fan and I knew I still had that book somewhere....
 
BradPaula
@Guiser: The only reason we had Blake's 7 run three times is the fans who requested it again. After the first run, I knew from being a member of public television in the States, that they had a year to air the program and a repeat depended on people writing or calling the station asking for it to be shown again. The third time, I consider my own triumph as I bombarded the station with letters once a week asking for them to replay the series and I eventually wore them down.

Blake's 7 seemed to take off all over the States in 1985 or so. I have no data on an earlier showing- but in my case, it was shown on quite a few PBS stations in our area. I remember trying to watch the show on a little station out of Grand Rapids, Michigan and would sit mesmerized watching through snow and interference just because of the thrill of it being on the air at all.

I can only speak for myself and for the Midwestern portion of America, but right around the premiere of Blake's 7 in 1985 little fan groups sprang up all over. I was actually in a few early on and one group, Scorpio, had small conventions right about this time having many of the cast and crew attending. Unfortunately, I could not attend at the time and kicked myself later for not finding the money and time to do so. But after all this, is Blake's 7 still well known here? No, and more's the pity. But we keep trying to interest friends and fans at conventions and will never give up on our beloved show. I've told this before on the Forum but while standing in line for autographs from some Doctor Who companions, a fan came up to me and looked at my Blake's 7 t-shirt and badges and said only one thing to me. "Vila weighs 73 kilos." I smiled and said "Yes, he does." We then did the secret handshake and that was it. No, not really, but it somehow should be like that or else a secret phrase like, "I plan to live forever, or die trying." Yes, I'll have to try that one next con! -Paula
Zil: Oneness must resist the Host.
 
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