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BEEBCHAT BACKCHAT WITH PAUL DARROW

Paul Darrow - 29 November 1999

Paul Darrow has portrayed Avon from Blake's 7 on TV and radio, and even in his novel, Avon - A Terrible Aspect. He's currently working on a new sci-fi sitcom, The Strangerers, and he called in for a live Radio Times online chat to talk about this and Blake's 7, his plans for the future, and Sarah Michelle Gellar...

Paul Darrow live on beeb.com

John Tolbert asks: "I've heard that the 4th season finale, "Blake", was not supposed to be the end of the series. What was planned for the next season?"

Paul Darrow: "Nothing! It was the end of the season - it was fairly final, everyone got shot except me! I guess I might have been kept alive in the hope of another season, but nothing materialised."

John Tolbert asks: "The whole crew wasn't (supposed to be) murdered, were they? What a complete shock that was!"

Paul Darrow: "It wasn't a shock - we knew they'd get killed."

Maureen Marrs asks: "I believe you recently starred in a pilot for a series based on the stories of H P Lovecraft. Any idea when it will will be shown?"

Paul Darrow: "The pilot, yes has been filmed. It's going to be pitched to a distributor in January. Other than that, I've seen another script, and sooner would be better than later - but nothing firm yet!"

Maureen Marrs asks: "After the successful tour of "Guards! Guards!" the stage play, have you any future plans to return to the theatre ?"

Paul Darrow: "If I'm asked, Yes - and if the play and the part is interesting...and also if they pay enough!"

Maureen Marrs asks: "Paul, I know you have already published two novels, have you any plans for a third ?"

Paul Darrow: "Yes, I started one, got distracted by one of the characters, who didn't fit in, then started another. I've started several, so there will be a plethora of books!"

Orac: "I believe there are plans for getting Blakes Seven off the ground again, and you are partly responsible for this. Are the BBC keen?"

Paul Darrow: "I am partly responsible, in that I'm told I'll be an Associate Producer. Andrew Mark Sewell, the Boss, tells me that is a good job, but not quite as good as his! So we're putting it together. It's too early to know about BBC interest."

Nick Stewart asks: "If a new series of B7 came to fruition, which of your favourite plays/movies/books would you like to see the show use as an influence?"

Paul Darrow: "That's an impossible question! There is no such thing as original idea, so if you're talking about plagiarism, anything goes..."

Andrew Williams asks: "Is it definite Paul will be the only returning character, or is it possible we might see some other cast members return?"

Paul Darrow: "It's a little bit difficult to return to anything if you're dead so the chances of anyone who was killed returning would be slim. But it's up to the writers, and the script is being written as we speak. The obvious person to replace me as Avon would be Brad Pitt...George Clooney as the older Avon!!"

Andrew Williams asks: "Can you please involve Chris Boucher. After Terry Nation, he knows the most about B7 and has the best feel for it."

Paul Darrow: "Well, we already have a writer, who is Bev Doyle. He has an extraordinary knowledge of Blake's 7 and a new vision, a vision suitable for a new millennium version."

Sandra Douglas asks: "How far away is the filming of the B7 telemovie from becoming a reality?"

Paul Darrow: "We guess, about autumn next year."

bobby: "Paul, have you done any online chats before? What do you think of them?"

Paul Darrow: "Once, in this very same room! And I didn't realise I could be seen, and still didn't when this started. So you are now seeing me eating rather nice lamb kebab, which is what the BBC give you for going online!"

Julie H asks: "Computers in the original B7 series now look very dated. can we expect the Federation's computer technology to have caught up in the movie?"

Paul Darrow: "That's really up to the writers vision, the designers, and how much it will cost. My personal vision is that all the computers will collapse in the next century so maybe we won't need any at all."

Andrew Williams asks: "Will Orac be in the new movie? Even if the Federation had captured it, it would be a strategic goal for Avon to obtain."

Paul Darrow: "That's quite a good idea actually! Possibly, I think is the answer...but it is a good idea...."

Andrew Williams asks: "Will Peter Tuddenham get to do any of the computer voices?"

Paul Darrow: "Yes. Assuming he'll accept the very small fee we're willing to offer..."

Tim: "Did Terry N. approve of the final episode "Blake"?"

Paul Darrow: "As I understand it, not really. In fact the answer is no, he didn't. But it was the savagery, if you like, of the conclusion of his series that inspired him to think of an idea for a future series which we have to realise for him."

Julie: "Will the new movie continue the tradition of having Blake's Seven in the title even when there is no Blake?"

Paul Darrow: "Possibly. After all, Julius Caesar gets killed off half way through Shakespeare's play so there's no real need to change titles. I would suggest that the title is part of the mythology that is Blakes 7."

Julie Horner asks: "What does "pitched" mean in this context?"

Paul Darrow: "Pitched means that the producer goes with a product to a distribution co, like BBC, Carlton etc and literally pitches the idea. If the pitch is good, it gets done. A pitch contains many elements, such as storyline, script outline, director, lead actors, some budget and the basic appeal - which market it might attract. B7 already has many of these attributes, and could be said to have a ready made market."

Eggy Greggy asks: "Will you be appearing in any non-sci-fi dramas in the near future?"

Paul Darrow: "No is the answer! The Strangerers, which I've done for Rob Grant is science fiction, and I suppose The Dreamers, being based on the work of Lovecraft, could also be described as sci-fi - although possibly horror."

Judith Proctor asks: "Can you tell us anything about The Strangerers?"

Paul Darrow: "I am allowed to tell you about my character, who is called Seedy. This man is a complete loser and to an extent, the villain of the piece, but quite incompetent! The Strangerers is a comedy, by the way..."

Ridgy: "Do you know yet if The Dreamers will be made into a series?"

Paul Darrow: "No, but we are hopeful...."

Daveynick: "Paul which of the current SCI-fi shows would you love to be in, what part would you like to play and why?"

Paul Darrow: "That's very difficult. I have to confess, I don't watch many TV shows but there are a number of films I would like to have been in...The Matrix. Having said that, I think Babylon 5's pretty good, except that it's finished now. I would like to work with Buffy...not necessarily on TV!"

David B1 asks: "When did you and the rest of the cast realise what a huge success Blake's 7 had become ?"

Paul Darrow: "When the mail started coming in and it suddenly became an enormous task to answer it, but we did. Your reaction, reaction of the viewers, is always the most rewarding"

Smirnov: "Don't you loathe anoraks or is it their money you're particularly fond of?"

Paul Darrow: "I'm not sure what an anorak is, I thought it was something you wore...If you mean fans generally, I like them! And with regards to making money, I get that from doing a job, like anybody else."

David B asks: "What is your happiest memory of your time on Blake's 7?"

Paul Darrow: "Most of it. We all got on exceedingly well, and it was great fun which contributes, I think, to the success of the series"

bobby: "What do you think makes good science fiction? B7 seemed very rooted in the late 70's with breakdown of government and so on - is satire the key?"

Paul Darrow: "A very good question. If I knew the answer I think I could make a fortune. If you find the answer, which may or may not be satire, let me know and we'll share the profits.."

bobby: "Do kebabs taste the same in deep space?"

Paul Darrow: "I really wouldn't know! But here at the BBC, when you're hungry, anything tastes good!"

Tim: "are there any plans for futher B7 radio plays?"

Paul Darrow: "Yes, but I don't know when."

Trinity: "Babylon 5 seems to share much of the character development focus of Blake's 7 - is that the key?"

Paul Darrow: "It might be, I really wouldn't know..."

Tim: "Aren't you meant to eat kebabs after you have had a few to drink down the pub?"

Paul Darrow: "How do you know I haven't?"

Julie Horner asks: "I heard you were to be involved in a Millennium Quiz - any more news on that?"

Paul Darrow: "Yes...the idea was scrapped."

David B asks: "Is, or was, there anything of Avon in you?"

Paul Darrow: "Yes, quite a lot of Avon was me, because Terry gave me carte blanche to develop him as a character so I think Avon is Terry, Me, and Chris Boucher. I am now going to eat a chocolate biscuit!"

Judith Proctor asks: "Do you find it fascinating that you're still sex symbol 20 years after the series was aired?"

Paul Darrow: "Define sex symbol....."

Ian99: "Ever thought of becoming the new Dr Who"

Paul Darrow: "Yes! That would be fun. I have met all of them, except William Hartnell, and they all enjoyed it, and I'm sure I would. Write to Greg Dyke, at the BBC!"

Trinity: "So which character aspects did you enjoy developing most in Avon?"

Paul Darrow: "His honesty, his self-interest, his ruthlessness, his singlemindedness, his ability to survive in a hostile environment."

Diane Gies asks: "Apart from just 'The B7 Movie' do you have a working title for it yet?"

Paul Darrow: "No, not really, still arguing! No, correction, "debating"..."

andyg: "What market do you beleive this film is aimed at?"

Paul Darrow: "The science fiction market, along with Spielberg and Lucas, and everybody else! But ultimately an audience who enjoys great entertainment."

Judith Proctor asks: "Will the movie still be based around the concept of freedom fighting?"

Paul Darrow: "I suppose that's what life is about generally - trying to stay free."

SusanH: "Isn't there an argument that you would get the SF market anyway, so you should aim at general drama?"

Paul Darrow: "Yes, there is an argument, good point."

bobby: "How will you avoid the pitfalls of bringing back a more mature series, I'm thinking of the criticisms levelled at The Phantom Menace when everyone loved Star Wars?"

Paul Darrow: "A lot depends on the writer...that's really his job, but there will be no JarJar Binks!"

nina: "what happended to your hair"

Paul Darrow: "Nina, some people lose their hair as they get older, but as someone once said about William Shakespeare, "he was bald, but he was sexy...""

Maureen Marrs asks: "If you were to be the new doctor who would you choose as your assistant ?"

Paul Darrow: "Sarah Michelle Gellar!"

Julie Horner asks: "Do you still have those lovely slippers you wore in Guards! Guards!?"

Paul Darrow: "No, they took them back! They had nice little dragons on them and I still have *some* hair...."

Tim: "were there any guests on B7 who were more difficult tthan others or not really fit in?"

Paul Darrow: "No. Everybody enjoyed being a guest on B7. In fact, actors were queuing up for guest roles and we had a lot of fun with them. That was the great joy of the show. It was a great joy to be in..."

Kay: "Hi there - what did you think of Servalan's hairdo?"

Paul Darrow: "She seems to have more than I have!"

Sandra Douglas asks: "Will Sheelagh be make-up person on it as she has been involved with a few of your other productions?"

Paul Darrow: "I've no idea...but I've just finished working with her on The Strangerers, which was very nice."

Susie Wright asks: "Any chance of "Guards, Guards!" touring in the states and more specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area (California)?"

Paul Darrow: "I am informed that Sarah Michelle Gellar is from that area, so I shall make every effort to tour there in anything!"

Ian99: "Do you think that there is a danger that the B7 film will be just about Special Effects ?"

Paul Darrow: "There is no danger of that."

Diane Gies asks: "How many episodes of The Strangerers will you actually be in, Paul?"

Paul Darrow: "Seven, out of ten...er, might be eight!"

Anon: "There are a lot of B7 guests now in Eastenders, have you thought about appearing in 'the Square'?"

Paul Darrow: "No....and I've been asked, and I've never seen it. Sorry, I've never been asked!"

NEV FOUNT asks: "What happened to the female cast members in the radio version of Blakes Seven?"

Paul Darrow: "I don't know...they're doing something else."

Diane Gies asks: "Who would you have liked to see as a guest on B7 who never got asked?"

Paul Darrow: "Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Pamela Anderson...."

Tim: "how does your wife feel about Sarah Michelle Gellar"

Paul Darrow: "I don't think we should tell her that I've mentioned SMG. We have married for 33 years. The train robbers only got 30..."

yvonne: "As you are such a great fan of the lovely Ms Gellar have you thought of applying to be her new watcher or even a guest demon !!"

Paul Darrow: "No, but it's a good idea....!"

Julie Horner asks: "If you could have anything for Christmas - what would it be?"

Paul Darrow: "Peace of Mind (I bet you thought I was going to say something else..)."

beeb.com says: "Paul says a final farewell..."

Paul Darrow: "It's been a great pleasure communicating with you through this wonderful medium. Look out for Sarah Michelle Gellar in the new B7 film!"