Gareth Thomas, Hero of Blake's 7, Dies

By James O Malley on at

Sad news as Gareth Thomas, the star of the BBC's 1970s dystopian space opera Blake’s 7, has passed away at the age of 71. Thomas had a long and storied career on British television, but he’ll be forever known and loved for his starring role as Roj Blake.

Before landing the title role in the show, which was created by Terry Nation (the same guy who created the Daleks), Welsh-born Thomas began his televisual career in 1965, before landing steady work appearing on shows like Z-Cars, How Green Was My Valley, and Children of the Stones throughout the seventies, but it would be Blake’s 7 that put Thomas on the map for many people.

Despite appearing in the title role, Thomas only appeared regularly in the first two of the show’s four seasons — he decided to leave, because he was offered a place in the Royal Shakespeare Company. But he did return briefly n the third season finale, and then returned for its bloodbath of a series finale. His performance was spectacular: Blake was a science fiction anti-hero unlike anything seen on television before, as he evolved—along with the series itself—into a fascinating, morally grey hero willing to sacrifice anything (and anyone) in his fight against the sinister Federation. It was enough to make Doctor Who look like a kid's show.

After Blake’s 7 ended, Thomas went on to appear in regular roles in Heartbeat and London’s Burning, and even went back to science fiction, with a guest spot in 2006 Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, in the episode “Ghost Machine”. In 2012, he even returning to his most iconic role in Big Finish’s Blake’s 7: The Liberator Wars audio dramas in 2012.

He’s survived by his wife, Linda. [io9]