Blood and Earth / Flag and Flame

Blake's 7: The Early Years - Blood and Earth / Flag and FlameBlood and Earth: On the planet Auron, the cloned Cally “sisters” are plentiful, but when an aircraft crash leaves one Cally stranded in the woods, out of telepathic communication range and alone, the only voice she can hear in her mind to stave off despair and insanity is that of a woman claiming to be one of the very first Cally clones. With help from “Aunty”, Ariane Cally overcomes her lack of innate survival skills, and she surprises her benefactor by revealing that while she make lack basic outdoor survival knowledge, she can make up for it with ruthlessness.

Flag and Flame: Clone sisters Skate and Merrin Cally are assigned to a uniquely dangerous mission: one of them plunges deep into Federation territory on recon missions, maintaining absolute radio and emissions silence, while relaying her findings back to her paired sister aboard an Auron military ship which isn’t straying outside of Auron space. When Skate’s fighter is spotted and pursued by Federation patrol ships, her sister Merrin can only listen in telepathically as her sister fires the pilot ejection system and drifts slowly though space. But with the Auron authorities convinced that Skate is already dead, Merrin may have to listen in on her sister’s slow, lingering death…

Order this story on CDBlood and Earth written by Ben Aaronovitch
Flag and Flame written by Marc Platt
directed by Dominic Devine
music by Dominic Glynn

Blood and Earth Cast: Jan Chappell (Aunty), Amy Humphreys (Ariane Cally), Barbara Joslyn (Jorden Cally), Julian Wadham (Commissioner Van Reich)

Flag and Flame Cast: Susannah Doyle (Skate Cally), Natalie Walter (Merrin Cally), Michael Cochrane (Commander Gresham)

Notes: Guest star Jan Chappell, the second cast member from the original 1970s Blake’s 7 TV series to appear in B7 Media’s audio reimaginings, played the role of Cally in that show’s first three seasons; she opted out of the fourth season and played her character’s death scene as a voice-over. Composer Dominic Glynn created the music for several episodes of the last four seasons of Doctor Who in the 1980s, including the short-lived Trial Of A Time Lord version of the Doctor Who theme tune.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: Another visit from an original Blake’s 7 cast member is both welcome and baffling – much like the rest of her, Jan Chappell’s voice hasn’t aged appreciably, raising the question of why a new Cally has to be cast in the first place. But the even bigger question left by this entry in the Blake’s 7 Early Years series is this: where does Cally fit in this newfangled Blake’s 7 audio mythology? Her backstory is, in fact, her first appearance, since Cally has yet to appear in the “current,” non-prequel stories.

That’s a question that neither of the stories presented here really answers; one can only assume that, should B7 Media get back to the main “present day” story strand once the Early Years have been explored, Cally will make an appearance and the audience will have a clearer idea of her motivations. Whether it will be any of the Cally clones – or, indeed, any of the actresses – who appear in this story is anyone’s guess. That’s a little frustrating.

Blood and Earth turns out to be the superior storyline here, and not just because of the inclusion of Jan Chappell; it really goes further with the idea of an isolated Auron – a being accustomed to nearly constant contact with others of its kind – than the TV series ever did, and as such I’m hoping that Ariane Cally is the version of the character being set up for a further appearance. The notion that “Aunty” may only have been a hallucinated internal dialogue is intriguing.

Flag and Flame is an intriguing military SF tale in and of itself, setting up the unique ways the Aurons are using their natural abilities in a wartime setting, but once Skate Cally is presumed lost on her mission, it’s fairly easy to predict every story twist that follows. I’m guessing that the underground resistance revealed toward this story’s end is the point of the entire story; by the end of the show, I don’t particularly care to hear from Merrin Cally again.

Where the character will go from here – if anywhere – is anyone’s guess. Hopefully B7 Media makes better use of Cally – whichever Cally they follow up on – than the TV series, which took a fierce freedom fighter and vastly watered her down over time.