Gareth Thomas 1945 – 2016 April 16, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Sorry to see that Gareth Thomas, the Welsh actor, passed away this week. He was the eponymous Blake in Blake’s 7, a series whose ambition and scope despite rickety sets and on occasion curious effects remains laudable. It’s difficult at this remove with television saturated with science fiction and so much of it good, to quite recall how rare even half-way decent SF was in the 1970s.
And Blake’s 7 was pretty good with an unusually sceptical take that placed it firmly in a late 1970s, almost punk, sensibility. The Federation (always thought that was a deliberate and sarcastic nod to Star Trek) as an appalling and corrupt tyranny might have to be overthrown, but those who were rebelling weren’t purer than pure – Avon is the standout character with his characteristic cynicism/selfishness, but while Blake had a moral centre he wasn’t above cutting corners or making questionable decisions. That he didn’t appear for most of the fourth and final season seemed somehow fitting, and that closing sequence…
Other roles he had included Star Maidens, a curious, in part deeply sexist, Anglo-German SF series from the mid to late 1970s. It is, as they say, very much of its time – depicting a rogue planet ruled by a matriarchy where Blake is one of the male servants who escapes. Such japes – eh? But credit where credit is due, the spaceships were pretty great.
He was also in the genuinely creepy (to my ten year old self) Children of the Stones.
Subsequently he seems to have devoted much of his energies to stage performances but he was a fairly constant presence on television nonetheless.
Difficult not to feel that he was, like so many who enter SF as actors, defined by a single character he played. Still, what a character.