The Actor Speaks
Volume 4
Paul Darrow

RRP 9.99
Available 12 April 2004

The actor who speaks out on this occasion is Paul Darrow, who is best known for his role as the callous Kerr Avon in Blake's 7, and who has more recently portrayed the equally cynical Kaston Iago in Magic Bullet's series of Kaldor City audio dramas.

Darrow and interviewer Mark J. Thompson cover a range of topics including, naturally, Blake's 7. It is interesting to note how Darrow's approach to playing Avon differs radically from that of Jacqueline Pearce (the subject of the previous Actor Speaks release) with her role as Servalan. Whereas Pearce based her performance entirely on what was set down in the script, Darrow claims to have significantly fleshed out the bare bones of the character Terry Nation put on paper. Consequently, Avon would appear to be much more Darrow's creation than Nation's. The performer also sheds light on his participation in Nation's proposed Blake's 7 follow-up mini-series/TV movie.

Curiously, Darrow's guest-starring role as the villain Tekker in the Doctor Who story Timelash is not mentioned - clearly this isn't one of the actor's prouder moments. Instead, he and Thompson move on to the subjects of age, Elvis Presley and the role of Iago in the Kaldor City series. The actor dismisses suggestions that Iago is in any way connected to Avon, and points out that their voices are quite different. When Darrow explains where he got the inspiration for Iago's gruff tones, I couldn't believe I had never noticed before!

Listeners get a chance to apply this newfound knowledge while listening to the track "Kaldor City - The Prisoner", a short duologue written by Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore of the Magic Bullet team. Also featuring Peter Miles in his familiar role as Landerchild, this is an appropriately mind-bending battle of wills between interrogator and interrogated.

Other dramatic segments include the monologue "Sunset in the City" by Blake's 7 contributor Tanith Lee. This bitter tale of betrayal and revenge, delivered by Darrow in the role of a 14th-century king, ties in perfectly with previous discussions of Avon's character traits and motivations.

Thompson contributes the monologues "The Unwelcome Visitor" and "The Woman in My Dreams". The former, like a good poem or short story, gains added meaning upon repeated listening. The latter, which acts as a prelude to a proposed new MJTV audio series The Binding Force, which will star Darrow and Jacqueline Pearce, is full of passion, sexually connotative language and a hint of suppressed violence.

Even a cynic of the calibre of Kerr Avon would find it hard not to be impressed by the 80 minutes' worth of enlightenment and entertainment found on this CD.

Richard McGinlay