'Blakes 7' for U.S. TV?

blkelogoAccording to Deadline.com , Martin Campbell (CASINO ROYAL, GREEN LANTERN) is attached to  direct a pilot that would re-boot the 1970’s BBC space opera hit BLAKES 7.
Joe Pokaski (HEROES) is set to write (and one assumes re-interpet) the original series, created by the late Terry Nation, who also gave us the Daleks of DOCTOR WHO.
Marc Rosen (THRESHOLD) is to produce the project with Georgeville Television’s Leon Clarance. The venture’s development  is to be funded by Motion Picture Capital, with the hope that the new version of the dark UK ‘Cult Classic’ series will interest an American network.
Georgeville Television got the rights from Andrew Sewell’s B7 Enterprises, who had purchased the property from Terry Nation’s estate. B7 had been trying to relaunch the franchise as a TV series with ill luck for the last several years.  Only audio dramas based on the original program have thus far been produced, with a potential new series on the UK’s SKY 1 not coming to fruition.
B7-S1CrewThe series, which ran for four 13-episode seasons beginning in 1978, starred Gareth Thomas as the protagonist Roj Blake, a political dissedent framed for a crime by the Terran Federation. Sent off to exile on a primitive world, Blake  along with other convicted criminals, are sent to try to salvage a mysterious advanced spacecraft. Blake managed to push through his plan of using the ship that he dubs “The Liberator” as a weapon to fight for freedom. Some of the crew would be supportive of the plan, while others seemed more concerned with protecting their personal freedom and  enriching themselves instead.
The show also starred  Paul Darrow as the calculating Avon, Sally Knyvette
as smuggler Jenna Stanis,  Michael Keating as the genial expert safecracker Vila Restal, David Jackson as the strong and loyal Olag Gan, and  Jan Chappell as the cloned telepath Cally, from the planet Auron. Sentient ship’s computer Zen brought the team up to seven, and the independent ORAC (both voiced by Peter Tuddenham) would be added later.
Blake7iberator2That team would change over the seasons; Gan was killed on a mission during season 2, and Blake and Jenna would leave as series regulars at end of the second season, lost and presumed dead.  
Younger characters Dayna Mellanby (Josette Simon) and Del Tarrant (Steven Pacey) would join the crew in the third, with expert shooter Soolin (Glynis Barber) replacing Cally for Season four, after her off-screen death.
Often called the “anti-STAR TREK”, BLAKES 7 took place in a dark and bleak universe, with the corrupt Federation running or pulling the strings behind most human worlds. Even organized crime was under government direction. The power-mad Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce, veteran of Hammer horror) rises from Commander to President, becoming obsessed with possessing the Liberator and quelling rebellion.

The heroes were less than perfect, the series pitched as an outer-space “Dirty Dozen”. Even the initially heroic Blake realized on some level that his quest for freedom had a high and possibly futile cost in human lives. The amazing precedent of continuing BLAKES 7 (never an apostrophe) without the title character  required that the cynical, self-interested Avon  take on Blake’s crusade, and by the fourth season it was clear that the pressure was driving him mad.  

Season 4 Cast, with Paul Darrow as Avon in the foreground.
Season 4 Cast, with Paul Darrow as Avon in the foreground.

 

Originally made on the budget of a canceled police show, BLAKES 7 was a rough-hewn low-rent affair, shot on a mix of studio video and location film, often looking hokey even for its time.Some of the scripts and acting were cliche or over the top at times—and yet it worked. The series was very popular, watched by over ten million people in the UK, and exported to many other counties, including the U.S.
(The series ran largely on PBS stations in America, often paired with DOCTOR WHO.)
It’s difficult to imagine an American broadcast network being interested in a dark SF series like BLAKES 7. Fox’s FIREFLY had a similar vibe, leading to a very short life. The old Sci-Fi Channel’s FARSCAPE and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA reboot had more success, but would the current, mainly Earth-bound SyFy have any interest? Hard to say. Perhaps there’s a cable programmer looking for a space-based series with some kind of pedigree.

BBC Sued Over Dalek's Davros

Davros_1The UK’s Daily Mail reports that the BBC is being sued by Steven Clark, who says he invented the evil Davros, creator of the Daleks  for a contest run by the (now defunct) magazine TV Action magazine in 1972.
Readers were challenged to to create and design a villian to appear in a DOCTOR WHO comic strip that appeared in the magazine villain, and Steven Clark asserts he “invented the name Davros and sent in a drawing of the character along with a handwritten essay called The Genesis Of The Daleks: The Creation Of Davros. ”
Mr. Clark did not win the contest, but the judges included the fourth Doctor Doctor Jon Pertwee, DOCTOR WHO script editor Terrance Dicks and producer Barry Letts.  
To his surprise, in 1975 the series aired a serial titled Genesis of The Daleks, and featured a character named Davros that looked very much like his drawing. The story, written by Dalek creator Terry Nation (BLAKES 7), did not follow the essay by Clark, though the name Kaleds, an anagram of Daleks did appear.

Steven Clark's Davros Sketches
Steven Clark's Davros Sketches

According to his suit, the then 16-year old Clark did not make a claim at the time, because he had lost his copies of his entry. He says that  twenty years later he re-discovered them, stuck inside the family’s encyclopedias—but erroneously believed that too much time had passed to file a legal claim.
The article states that tens of thousands of pounds may be due Steven Clark, if his assertation is true. He’s quoted as saying:   

“The money aspect of it is not my primary motivation. I am proud of the character I created and I just want my work to be recognised. It would be nice to be finally linked to the character after all this time.”

If true, the BBC should acknowledge the fact, however contests of this nature usually have rules that grant all right to submissions to the contest organizers and television shows whith which they’re connected.
Personally, the sketches make be slightly suspicious, as they are so close to what appeared on screen, which would have been a rarity for the BBC’s independently-minded designers and FX departments of that era.