Having become aware of a Federation equivalent to Orac – which may even be able to detect where the Liberator is by detecting Orac – the crew is racing to find the mind behind its development, a Federation officer named Mikhailov. Orac has narrowed down a list of possible leads, all of whom have proven not to be the person Blake and his crew are seeking. Only one possibility remains, on the planet Straxis, a world known informally to the Federation as Battleground 9. The planet is heavily defended, and when Blake and Avon teleport down, they find a war in progress between the Federation and forces led by a deposed Federation governor. He was removed from office and sent to Battleground 9 to serve as cannon fodder for training exercises, but he has instead organized a functional resistance movement that has become a thorn in the Federation’s side. Blake and Avon meet up with this rebel group, but are separated in the fierce shelling; Avon is captured by the Federation and interrogated by the officer grading the current training exercise – none other than Mikhailov herself, who finds herself answering as many questions as she is asking.
Cast: Gareth Thomas (Blake), Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Jan Chappell (Cally), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Timothy Bentinck (Abel Garmon), Abigail Hollick (Alexa Mikhailov), Alistair Lock (Zen/Orac), Dan Starkey (Voss Ferrell)
LogBook entry and review by Earl Green
Review: A more expansive and epic story than Blake’s 7 – with its budgetary leftovers from whatever Doctor Who hadn’t already spent – could ever have attempted on TV, Battleground is very good at establishing, for those who may be new to Blake’s 7, why it is that Blake fights the Federation. Gareth Thomas is Blake at his best here, tough but personable – you can see why he’s become a thing for the resistance to rally around. Dan “Strax” Starkey is a delight as the bratty, unhinged Federation officer commanding the troops in his “exercise”, a character who, frankly, it’s a relief to hear getting his comeuppance in the end. Battleground is an enjoyable return to form for Blake’s 7 as a regular full-cast audio entity after an oddly off-format opening volley.