Zen Explored

The backstory of an artificial intelligence begins…

LONDON, April 19, 2010: UK-based independent production company B7 Productions has announced the next BLAKE’S 7: THE EARLY YEARS audio drama with ZOË TAPPER, JASON MERRELLS, TRACY-ANN OBERMAN and ALISTAIR LOCK as Zen.

Based on Terry Nation’s seminal 70s science fiction TV series, THE EARLY YEARS is a prequel series of audio stories that explores the origins of key BLAKE’S 7 characters prior to them meeting rebel leader Roj Blake. This latest entry to the ever-expanding series takes a new twist, concentrating on a character that doesn’t breathe or have any parents, the synthetic intelligence known only as ZEN.

When Roj Blake first stepped on board the mysterious, derelict alien spaceship Liberator, his every movement was monitored by the ship’s controlling intelligence, ZEN. Luckily, Blake and his rebel crew managed to gain the ‘confidence’ of this creation from an alien world and so he was able to use the Liberator in their quest for justice against the Federation. But the origins of ZEN have remained a mystery, until now.

What terrible catastrophe left the Liberator drifting and shattered? What drove the ship’s intelligence to murder its original crew? What dark secrets lie at the heart of this alien machine? And are Blake and his crew really safe on board the Liberator?

In this 60-minute drama, award-winning writer JAMES SWALLOW was keen to explore the story of a non-human character, “I always wondered what catastrophe had set it [the Liberator] adrift and left it broken and derelict for Blake and company to find. How did the ship’s original crew perish? What made Zen turn rogue? I wanted to tell that story.”

It was decided to tell the story from the point of view of one of the original Liberator crew, the human Pilot, played by ZOË TAPPER (Survivors, Demons). How a human without a past came to be on board this alien vessel will be just the beginning of this spine-tingling tale.

For ZOË TAPPER, playing a character with no past was an exciting challenge, “With no past to draw from, the emphasis was on Pilot’s instincts. It was important for me to strike the right balance between portraying an innocent who is seemingly starting life afresh and in Pilot’s case, an old soul, whose innate wisdom and fighting spirit, tells her that all is not what it seems.”

JASON MERRELLS (Cutting It, Waterloo Road, Emmerdale) plays Healer, another human crewmember without a past, but while, as his title suggest, his role is to look after his crew mates, he finds himself attracted to Pilot, and becomes a victim of his own human frailties.

TRACY-ANN OBERMAN (EastEnders, Mistresses, Doctor Who) plays Avatar – an aloof representative of the alien Liberator builders, the System.

Last, but by no means least, is ZEN itself, played by Alistair Lock, who has also directed previous EARLY YEARS (The Dust Run & The Trial) as well as providing music for many of the releases and creating the series’ epic soundscape. Even though he is also familiar with working in front of the microphone, the inhuman ZEN was a particularly challenging role, “Zen normally delivers information in a neutral tone, and it was a challenge to find ways of delivering quite emotional lines in what appears to be a neutral tone, but that still hint at the turmoil and rage beneath.“

Prepare to travel to the depths of space for a gripping story of the human mind and the artificial mind, exploring the mystery of a group of people with no past, and maybe no future…

Story 2.1 ZEN: ESCAPE VELOCITY

Written by James Swallow | Directed by Andrew Mark Sewell

Release: 26 April 2010 | RRP: £10.99 | ISBN: 978-1-906577-09-4

Featuring Zoë Tapper, Jason Merrells, Tracy-Ann Oberman

and Alistair Lock as Zen.

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