Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
I have a confession, don’t tell anyone… but I’ve never watched Blakes 7. I’ve watched the first episode and said, I must get back to this and then didn’t. So worse than not watching it, the episode I watched didn’t feature Paul Darrow, a real offence. I have been lucky enough to interview Paul at a con and found him to be a complete gentleman, charming and intriguing. So when I was sent his autobiography to review on audio book from Big Finish, I was definitely in.
He starts by taking the sin off name dropping by making a feature of it. Basically saying ‘you’ll expect me to name drop, so here are a few names.’ This makes a fun and bold start before getting to a chronological re-telling of his life, with the odd foreshadowing to keep those who are only there for the show biz elements on the hook. I thoroughly enjoyed him talking about his days as a young man who was drawn at first to the military and as any good biography should do it gives us an insight into the times and attitudes of the times he grew up in. He does not excuse or glorify the attitudes of the past he lived in, he merely tells it as it was and leaves you often to make up your own mind.
After telling us of his life as an actor in general and leading us through his life one fascinating anecdote after another and after just the right amount of teasing he dives into the Blakes 7 of it all and does not disappoint. As I have admitted above, I haven’t watched Blakes 7 to date, but as a fan of Terry Nation and Doctor Who, I was all the same fascinated to hear of the show, with a mind to sparing the time to binge watch it. A better selling of the show to someone considering watching it you could not wish for. Darrow takes us through each episode of Blakes 7, one at a time, with a personal tale of being involved (with the exception of the first episode, he talks about it, but as his character was introduced in the second episode, it couldn’t be a completely personal story). I was concerned at first that this much detail could get boring in the wrong hands; Paul Darrow’s are the completely correct hands for such a task. He makes you feel like you are there, with really good descriptions of the action, his opinions of the stories, good or bad and if each episode made sense to the overall story or not. He also charts the building success of the programme as it happened. You can tell just how genuinely thankful he is to the producer, Terry Nation for making it happen and the cast that joined him on the journey; regular or guest. We even hear Paul hint at the follow up to Blakes 7 that Terry Nation outlined to him that he still to this day hopes they can one day make to tie up loose ends left by the original run.
Much to my delight we even get a chapter on Doctor Who. Paul’s appearances on the show as well as his remembrances of working with, being friends with and conventioning with the Doctors and other cast from Doctor Who. This is in no way forced and shows he has the stories to justify such a chapter outside making me and several other Whovians listening happy.
We even get a bonus chapter not in the original release that take us up to somewhere around a year ago.
Paul Darrow’s voice is perfect for audio and storytelling. If you have already read the book you owe it to yourself to listen to this audio performance or you are missing out. Not only his velvety voice, but the fact that he talks to the audience during the reading, ‘you didn’t think this was going to be that kind of story did you?’ or ‘You’re ahead of me aren’t you?’ All of which add immensely to the charm of this wonderful book and narration. At 8hrs30mins, the time just fly’s by and I frequently found myself during the week I listened to this saying, ‘oh, just 5 minutes more’… 30minute later and I would get to whatever task I was meant to be doing. I also give a lot of credit to Paul Darrow for not just talking about epics he loves or his favourite Shakespeare. He does this and rightly so, but he also names shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Stargate SG1, Star Trek and many other modern shows, showing a respect for the genre that did so much for him that some autobiographies fail to show and also that he keeps in touch with his craft from all sides still to this day.
Please pick this audiobook up today and afterwards, do like I’m about to, and watch the entire run of Blakes 7 (followed by the Audiobooks by big finish of course!) I give this a Blakes 10/10.
You can buy ‘Your him aren’t you here… https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/you-re-him-aren-t-you-audiobook-1442 or pre-order from Amazon.
You can listen to my interview with Paul here… https://GallifreyStandsPodcast.podbean.com/mf/web/5ua4e5/Ep102_-_FCCB_2016.mp3
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