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Book Review

Book Cover

Blake's 7
The Merchandise Guide


Author: Mark B Oliver
Telos Publishing
RRP: £19.99, US $39.95, Cdn $39.95
ISBN: 978 1 84583 059 5
Available 30 April 2012

Blake’s 7 was a science fiction television show which ran for four seasons between 1978 and 1981 and if you have never heard of the show, you’re probably looking at the wrong website. The show was created by Terry Nation, who had found marketing heaven and financial gain with his creation of the Daleks for Doctor Who. Blake’s 7, although popular, never achieved the commercial impact of the Daleks.

Blake’s 7: The Merchandise Guide (192 pages) is a new book by Mark B. Oliver which attempts to cover the entire range of commercially available products which the show generated. Although the book covers every aspect of the show's presence in other media, it’s surprising just how little official merchandising actually exists. Oliver does cover this subject and it would appear that a combination of greed and hubris seems to have limited the number of licences which produced actual merchandise.

Now, if you’re like me, you buy these things partially to see all the things you’d wished you’d bought as well as a good look at the stuff you never knew existed. To this end each product comes with a description as well as an estimation of its rarity, but not its value, and reasonably sized colour picture.

If the book consisted of merchandising alone it would be a very dry affair, but Oliver has included a comprehensive, eight page introduction to the show and its merchandising, as well as an appendix which covers unreleased and cancelled items.

Included also is an interview with Ian Kennedy (who provided the artwork for the Blake’s 7 comic strip), the novelist Tony Attwood, Chris Boucher (who had worked on Blake’s 7 in the role of script editor for all four seasons, as well as Doctor Who, where he created the character of Leela) and the writer Trevor Hoyle (who has written three novels as well as scripting the episode Ultraworld).

Having covered some of the creative bods behind the show, Oliver also includes interviews with current merchandisers, including Michael Stevens (commissioning editor at BBC Audiobooks), Wakefield Carter from Termight Replicas (who do a rather nice B7 badge) and John Archdeacon (who has produced a highly desirable version of the Liberator).

All in all, the book pretty much covers every reference or product from the show, produced with high quality, glossy paper, to make the most of the photographs. You will probably not read it cover to cover, but it’s a great little reference book to flick through if only to make you wish you’d bought that kit or piece of clothing while it was available.


Charles Packer

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