Television science fiction aficionado’s will be mourning the death of actor Gareth Thomas who played rebel ringleader Roj Blake in the Terry Nation science fiction television series Blake’s 7. The RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)-trained Thomas, who died at the age of 71, played the part of Roj Blake in the early series before he moved on to pastures new as a character actor in a number of television series and films.
While the BBC Science Fiction series Blakes 7 never had the budget or special effects of its contemporary 1970s space movies such as Star Wars, or even of its competitor science fiction television series such ITV’s UFO or Space 1999, in some ways it was a forerunner to the plots of others. It was the story of a motley band of rebels trying to fight an evil totalitarian empire, albeit with some moral ambiguities included in this good versus evil story.
Despite its wobbly sets, clever writing and some alluring characters, most noticeably the scarily ruthless dominatrix-like villain, Servalan, as sexily played by Jacqueline Pierce, kept Blake’s 7 watchable throughout, and the series remains highly rated even today. As a sign of its new cult status, a model of the Liberator starship used in the filming of the series sold for GBP£33,000 last year on eBay.
Post script: We also say goodbye to the very talented US pop and rock star, Prince, who has passed away at the early age of 57. Prince dominated the music of the 1980s and 1990s with both his own performances and with the music he wrote for others.
Likewise, the much loved British comedienne, comedy writer and actress, Victoria Wood, has succumbed to cancer at the relatively early age of 62. While reportedly naturally shy and slightly dour in private, she dazzled with her witty wordplay and naughty-but-nice fun in her own sketch/cabaret television shows and in her BBC television sitcom Dinner Ladies. Her casts usually included her long time comedy partners Julie Walters and Celia Imrie.
Later in her career Victoria Wood used her own dour qualities in the straight acting role of Housewife 49, a wartime set TV film which she also wrote. She rightly won two BAFTA awards for doing so. On her death, Victoria Wood’s family posted this famous amusing moan from her: “Life’s not fair, is it? Some of us drink champagne in the fast lane, and some of us eat our sandwiches by the loose chippings on the A597.”
Finally, we say goodbye to film director, Guy Hamilton, 93, who, in his long career directed four James Bond adventure films including the excellent, Goldfinger (1964) and the enjoyable The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). He also directed the retelling of the key wartime aerial battle, The Battle of Britain (1969).
We give our condolences to the family and friends of all of those above who have departed this mortal coil.
Post script: We also give our condolences to the family of actor Douglas Wilmer who has passed away at the age of 96. Wilmer made his name starring as Sherlock Holmes in a BBC television series during the 1960s and as Fu Manchu’s nemesis, Inspector Nayland-Smith, in the excellent Fu Manchu movie series of that decade. Wilmer also had memorable parts in the excellent Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973).