SFX was sad to learn of the passing of one of the greats of sci-fi TV
it was announced on 13 April that Gareth Thomas – the actor who, for many will forever be remembered as TV freedom fighter Roj Blake – had passed away from heart failure at the age of 71.
Blake’s 7 was just one role in an almost 50-year screen career, which began in 1965, with Thomas playing Benvolio in a TV adaptation of Romeo And Juliet. It wasn’t long, however, before he was chalking up genre credits. He appeared in Quatermass And The Pit, The Avengers, Anglo-German sci-fi series Star Maidens and the wonderfully chilling Children Of The Stones before landing his defining role.
Blake’s 7, when it started out in 1978, was a tougher, grittier series than its BBC stablemate, Doctor Who. Blake himself was a freedom fighter dedicated to battling the tyrannical forces of the Federation. Thomas imbued the character with dignity and determination for two series, before deciding not to return for series three. He made one last appearance in the show, returning for its famously bleak final episode in series four.
Later in life Thomas made high profile appearances in The Strangerers, Torchwood, the rebooted Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and his own favourite role, the rural drama Morgan’s Boy, for which he was nominated for a Bafta. He recorded several Blake’s 7 audios and was also a regular fixture on the sci-fi convention circuit, where his many fans have fond memories of talking with one of the icons of TV SF.
Thomas’s Blake went missing for 25 episodes of his own show!