Blake's 7 US Dream Casting
It has recently been announced that Syfy are producing a new version of the classic Blake's 7. Now, as some of you may be aware, I host the Blake's 7 podcast Shake and Blake where Ian Wilson and I rewatch the original series. There seemed to be some poetry to the fact that on the day that we released our show covering the very last episode (the fantastic Blake), the announcement was made that the new show of 13 episodes had been commissioned. As a long time fan of the original show I'm interested to see what the new show will bring and of course I'm interested in who will be cast. As such I have put together my dream cast for a remake.
I've tried to be realistic in my casting choices insofar as these are all, bar one, actors who work in US TV rather that major Hollywood stars. Some are currently working on successful shows which means that they would be unavailable, but here is my ideal cast for a new US made Blake's 7:
Roj Blake – David Morrissey
The former “Next Doctor” is currently impressing audiences as The Governor in The Walking Dead. Morrissey has the necessary gravitas and intensity to play the driven resistance leader, while also showing the more obsessive and unpleasant side of the character that came to the surface in the original show's second series. After his strong supporting turn in The Walking Dead it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine him being given a leading role if he were available.
Kerr Avon – Mark Sheppard
Many fans will consider the casting of Blake's 7's notorious anti-hero to be the most important thing to get right. No one will be able match the arch, and occasionally scenery chewing, performance of Paul Darrow but for a character who is morally ambiguous with a healthy line in sarcastic put-downs there really is no other choice but the actor who has cornered the market in such characters. Sheppard has a long history of playing likeable bastards in shows like Firefly and Supernatural so I think he would be a good fit for the ultimate anti-hero. It would be a very different Avon in some ways, but I would love to see what he would do with the character.
Vila Restal – Nicholas Brendon
A controversial choice perhaps, but cowardly, unheroic thief Vila is, in some ways, an older more jaded version of early season Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Xander Harris. A more mature Brendon would be in a good position to play this. He would also spark off well with Sheppard’s Avon and they could conceivably build a antagonistic relationship that's as strong as it was in the original show. Any episode of the classic Blake's 7 that put Avon and Vila together was usually worth watching and this is a pairing with a lot of potential.
Jenna Stannis – Gina Torres
Yes, I know, it's another Whedon alumnus but Firefly was influenced by Blake's 7 and the role of the former smuggler turned Liberator pilot requires a strong actress who can give a performance that won't get swallowed by the arguably more showy leading roles. At her best in the original show, Jenna was a very important figure in the ongoing power struggle between Blake and Avon. Both knew her support would turn any argument their way. She wasn't afraid to stand up to either man if she thought that they needed a talking to and, like Zoe Washburne, she is handy with a gun and capable of taking care of herself.
Olag Gan – Michael Chiklis
Gan was the Little John of Blake's band of outlaws. Cursed with a brain implant to limit his violent behaviour after killing the Federation trooper who killed his partner, Gan was underused in the original series. Chiklis would be capable of bringing both size and vulnerability to the role of the Liberator's conscience. The idea of a man incapable of killing in a world where it's the only way to survive deserves to be explored more and Chiklis would be ideal
Cally – Jemima Rooper
The star of Lost in Austin and Hex has a unique look and brings a quiet strength to the roles she plays. Both of these qualities would be ideal for the role of telepathic alien guerilla fighter Cally. Cally was in some ways the perpetual outsider on board the Liberator and was often mistrusted by the rest of the crew. Rooper is a great actress who I have always thought would make a perfect Cally, even before this remake was announced.
Dayna Mellenby – Angel Coulby
The producers of the new show say that there will be seven human crew members to alleviate any confusion over the title (which is sort of fair as the “seven” were more often a five with computers taking up the shortfall). If they intend to include a character from the show's later series then the logical choice would be weapons inventor and hand to hand combat specialist Dayna. Merlin star Angel Coulby has already shown she can hold her own within a strong ensemble cast and she would bring that strength of character and playful sense of humour to Dayna.
Supreme Commander Servalan – Lana Parrilla
Servalan is another role that long time fans will want to see cast well. Originally played by the incomparable Jacqueline Pearce, Servalan is a gift of a role for any actress. Anyone who has seen Once Upon a Time will know that Parrilla is no stranger to playing strong female villains. While I know that she is unlikely to be available to play the role any time soon I would love to see her take on Blake's 7's most notorious antagonist.
Space Commander Travis – Sebastian Roché
Roché is no stranger to genre TV, having appeared in Odyssey 5, Fringe and Supernatural. He has a history of playing villainous or amoral characters and would bring a cultured menace to the role of Blake's nemesis. He would call to mind the intense, quiet anger of original Travis Steven Grief, rather than the pantomime villainy of his replacement Brian Croucher.
ORAC – Sir Ian McKellan
Okay, so I'm reaching here but c'mon. It would be awesome to hear Sir Ian play the stuffy, uncooperative super computer.