Audio Review: The Worlds of Blake’s 7 – Allies and Enemies

Review by Ian McArdell

Of all the Blake’s 7 characters destined to grab centre stage in their own spin-off, I’m not sure I had ever anticipated Arlen (Sasha Mitchell). However, in retrospect, she’s one who was begging for a backstory; the insidious Federation security officer was responsible for bringing down the errant Blake, and all of Avon’s crew, during the show’s shocking finale.

Following Arlen’s story, this boxset has a wide timeframe. In the first adventure she encounters Cally prior to the telepath’s time with Blake, the second sits somewhere in Series B, and the third brings us Jenna Stannis, after her Liberator days.

Saurian Major

Offering an insight into Cally’s rebel past, we meet her as one of the resistance fighters grinding down the Federation on Saurian Major. Hopelessly outmanned and outgunned, it’s a tough existence.

However, the rebel presence is enough of a pestilence to attract attention which occasions the arrival of a rising intelligence star, Arlen. Going under deep cover, she plans to infiltrate and take down the rebels from within.

Writer Lizbeth Myles gives us colourful characters and dissent among the cause – tensions which Arlen stokes. It’s a clever tale – despite Arlen being a Federation agent, we (sort of) want to side with her as she’s out to prove herself against a harsh, disbelieving superior officer who’s played brilliantly by Jacqueline King. All the elements of her plan are cleverly laid out in advance and, despite its monstrosity, it is pleasing to hear them all come together… and fall apart too, thanks to the presence of Cally (Jan Chappell).

No Name

The second tale, by writer Simon Guerrier, catches us up with Arlen some years later. Surprisingly, she’s no longer working for the Federation, but rather eking out an existence on the remote outpost of Vanstone as a delivery driver. This quiet life is soon disrupted however after an encounter with a mysterious eyepatch wearing figure who claims to be Roj Blake.

Inspired by Western movies, this is a cracking tale which puts Arlen in the midst of a moral dilemma. Should she stay and help defend her new home against the aggressors? Or continue an under-the-radar existence by upping sticks and starting again elsewhere?

As well as Travis (Brian Croucher), the main threat here comes from Nigel Lindsay who entertains in dual roles as the loquacious Stor and dim-witted Lux. I also loved Victoria Alcock as the store-owner Mac, perhaps the closest thing Arlen has to a friend.


Finally, Jonathan Morris returns Arlen to her hunt for Blake. Set sometime after her Liberator days, this is a tale which involves a certain smuggler named Jenna Stannis and, impossibly, the villain formerly known as Travis.

As followers of The Worlds of Blake’s 7 range should be aware, this is the clone of Travis who was created in 2021’s The Clone Masters boxset. Played by Stephen Greif, the original actor to play the part, the clone’s creation has allowed for some fun and for the character to reach past his original onscreen demise in ‘Star One’.

Here, Travis is helping the planet of Solta-Minor who seek to maintain their independence from the Federation. Hopelessly outmanned and outgunned, Jenna is called upon to run a blockade and bring in armaments to bolster their cause. However, there are wheels within wheels as Travis, and Arlen who works for him, both have their own agendas.

For her part, Jenna (Sally Knyvette) appears to be finding her way post-Liberator, smuggling but also helping out where she can. She seems to take the apparent survival of Travis in her stride, but her role in the story is a lot of fun and it seems as though Jenna’s future brims with potential.

In Summary

Charting a path to her fateful confrontation with Blake, Avon and friends on Gauda Prime, this boxset aims to give us some insight into the life of the Federation Agent who enabled their capture. While she didn’t have massive amounts of screen time in ‘Blake’, her reveal is one of the pivotal moments on the way to that final, fateful encounter.

Through encounters with familiar characters in the Blake’s 7 universe, we build up a picture of Arlen as a dedicated officer who ends up with a personal axe to grind against the rebels. Indeed, she’s like a Travis in three acts, but more dedicated and less homicidal. While his vendetta teetered towards madness, before tipping entirety over the edge, Sasha Mitchell’s Arlen ends up focussed; it’s no wonder she finished the job where her former mentor failed.

Allies and Enemies is a great, diverse set of stories. Both ‘Saurian Major’ and ‘Sedition’ offer solid adventures in traditional Blake’s 7 style, while ‘No Name’ brings a different, rather brilliant take. It serves as continuing proof that, more than 40 years since it began, there are still plenty of tales to tell in this universe.

Stephen Grief

With the sad passing of Stephen Grief, announced over the festive period, we imagine this is the last we will hear of his incarnation of Travis (unless Big Finish have anything else already in the can). If so, it’s a fitting note for him to end on – the villain, or rather his clone, remains at large with grand designs for the universe. Untroubled by the original’s obsession with Blake, this Travis is free to scheme and manipulate at will.

In the Extras on this release, Stephen Grief discusses the humour they were able to bring to the clone and he clearly relished the opportunity to play Travis another way. The Blake’s 7 universe has lost another great, but aren’t we lucky to have all his performances preserved on screen and on audio.

Order on CD/Download from Big Finish.
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Audio Review: The Worlds of Blake’s 7 – After the War

Check out the rest of our Big Finish reviews!


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