Recorded on: 4-5 July 2019
Recorded at: Audio Sorcery
Interview with author Trevor Baxendale
How did "OUTLAW" come about?
Well I'd had it in mind to write a book about Travis ever since I finished Criminal Intent - I'd really enjoyed writing for him in that and felt there was more to explore in the character. He's the bad guy in Blake's 7 and very much portrayed as that, but there are little snippets in the occasional episode that hint at something deeper: his (short-lived) concern for Maryatt, the surgeon responsible for his bionic upgrade in Deliverance for instance, and his bitter resentment at his treatment by the Federation in Trial. I mentioned a few ideas to John Ainsworth, including the possibility of a full audio drama concentrating on Travis only, and he much preferred the option of a novel - especially one that would look at the things Travis might have done after his trial that we didn't see on TV - and what leads him to the position he's in at the start of Gambit.
Did you re-watch any episodes to get in the mood?
Oh yes. All of the ones featuring Travis!
How do you feel about Stephen Greif reading it?
I'm amazed and delighted. The original Travis! Stephen brought a chilling realism to the role. He took Travis completely seriously - with the black leather and the eye-patch it could have been easy to make him a cartoon villain, but Stephen made him a character you believed in. I tried to do that in the novel - to take him seriously as a character, as a person. It will be quite something to hear Stephen describing events that took place before we see Travis on screen - and also after. As the story covers his off-screen activities in Series B, it will be fascinating to hear Stephen Greif mentioning things like the trial and the search for Star One!
What is it about Travis that makes him so interesting?
Travis sees himself as the hero of his own story, with Blake as the villain, and I thought I could use that angle in a novel. He's utterly dedicated to the Federation and Space Command; he does things - bad things - because he genuinely believes it's the right thing to do in the course of his duties. I'm fascinated by what would make a man do that; but I'm equally fascinated by what would happen to him, to his own feeling of self-worth, when all that is taken from him in the most humiliating way. He goes from being the law, to being an outlaw - through, as he sees it, no fault of his own.
Are you a Travis?
I'm not a Travis, no! he's far too tough and ruthless. I'd make a terrible Space Commander. I'd like to think I was as clever and resourceful as Avon or Soolin, but I suspect I'd be much more like Vila.
Stephen Greif reads Blake's 7 Outlaw for Big Finish. Photo taken by Paul Midcalf @ Audio Sorcery.