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Obituaries: Roj Blake

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Roj Blake has died after a short illness at his home on Earth, where he lived with his husband, Kerr Avon, and his dogs, Liza and Freddie, next door to his ex-colleague Servalan. He was 103. His Ruby Wedding Anniversary was marked last year by galaxy-wide Mardi-Gras-style celebrations. The couple had decided against having children.

Blake's long and eventful career began as a political criminal and activist under the Terran Federation. During the Liberator years, immediately following his conviction by a Federation court on fabricated child abuse charges, he felt unable to openly acknowledge his gayness due to the then-common link in the popular imagination between same-sex orientation and paedophilia, encouraged by the Federation: this did not stop his name becoming both a rallying call for malcontents of (ahem) all persuasions and a slang term for 'gay' (as in 'I was with Blake').

After the Galactic Wars and the destruction of Star One, Blake and Jenna Stanis left the Liberator. Stanis set up a bar in Freedom City as cover for the 'Time Distort Railway', channelling arms, rebels and information between resistance bases. Blake's whereabouts for the next few years were widely secret: on two occasions, Servalan spread rumours that he was dead, firstly at the end of her Presidency of the Federation, at the time of the destruction of the Liberator. The second time was soon after the failure of Avon's attempted alliance with various worlds in response to the Federation's last-ditch attempt to retain power under the ineffectual Last President by stepping up the pyelene-50 program. This time the rumour gained widespread credence through the galaxy-wide circulation of alleged (if rather implausible) vidscreen footage of the death of the entire crew of Scorpio, including the murder of Blake by Avon, on Gauda Prime.

After the final victory over the Federation by "Blake's Seven" (the name adopted by the resistance army headed by Stanis, Avon, Restal, Soolin, and Blake, now a slang term for any number other than seven, as in 'I'll have a Blake's Seven of cigarettes, please'), Servalan revealed that this footage had been fabricated by her in collaboration with Boucher, the scientific genius responsible, together with Nation, for similar psycho-propaganda research undertaken on the artificial planet Terminal during Servalan's Presidential term. It had been released as a last resort by Servalan (hence her non-appearance in it) in response to the reunion of Stanis, Avon and Blake on Gauda Prime, at the largest rebel base in the history of the resistance, at this time.

Within months, the Terran Federation was in ruins and the true story of Blake's and Stanis' whereabouts became known. Blake had established contact with various gay-rights groups lobbying for the legalization of male gayness within the Federation structure. Through them he learned not to fear Federation-created gayphobia and negotiated an alliance between them and the often gayphobic resistance groups. Although the resistance movement was notable for its heterogeneity, Blake having abandoned attempts to enforce a rigorous party line, arms, information and skills were shared between small splinter groups to devastating effect, leading to the disbanding of the Terran Federation and the first anarcho-communist organization of the Galaxy under the nominal leadership of Blake and the Council of Seven - Blake, Avon, Stanis, Soolin, Servalan, and Carnell.

Blake's first public appearance after the fall of the Federation was at his wedding to Avon on Earth. The actual ceremony was attended only by a few friends and relatives, but celebrations were organized on almost every planet in the Galaxy. After a brief honeymoon touring the bars in Space City, Blake and Avon took up residence at their home on Earth where they lived together until yesterday. Servalan, Stanis and Restal had homes nearby and the so-called Liberator parties were famous in the area for Blake's bad barbecuing, Restal's cocktails, Stanis's high-quality drugs, Avon's puns, and Servalan's nifty salads. Blake was often seen to drink large quantities of real ale and then fall over, blaming 'turbulence on the flight deck': Avon and Servalan spent most of their time fighting over control of the karaoke machine and trying to get guests to vote on who did the best Liza Minnelli, to the embarrassment of Servalan's wife, five daughters and daughters-in-law, including Veron Kasabi. Local guests also report that Servalan and Avon would occasionally snog and then fall over laughing, giving Restal and Stanis the opportunity to give their acclaimed rendition of Mel and Kim's "Respectable."

Various public figures have given statements on the occasion of Blake's death. Del Tarrant said: "I never worked very closely with Blake, but I was sometimes mistaken for him due to my hair and my natural charisma, even though I'm so much younger and thinner, and I was a crucial part of the resistance because I'm so good at flying. My heart goes out to Avon at this tragic time."

Jenna Stanis' response was: "Blake was lovely. I'll miss him. He is in the big pub in the sky with Robin Hood now, swapping fashion tips."

Vila Restal said: "I never thought I'd see this day. I thought old folk heroes only faded away, and Blake was showing no signs of fading, at least not until his nineteenth pint. He may have been a lightweight but he was a smashing bloke, particularly after the reunion on Gauda Prime, when he stopped bullying me so much. And the security system at his house was rubbish."

Soolin said: "I had great respect for Blake. He was a good leader, a good shot, a good friend, and a terrible cook. He also stopped Avon being quite such a mess, for which all of us who were on the Scorpio were very grateful."

Dayna Mellonby said: "Blake was a sweetheart. If you ever met him, you understood what all the fuss was about. It was also him that told me about the planet Xena, where Soolin and I now live. We'll be having a little adrenaline and soma in his memory tonight."

Servalan said: "Once Blake stopped being such a pathetic closet case and accepted my help, he was a creditable leader. I had a strange fondness for him even though he was so hairy and hearty. A universe without him will be much less interesting."

Kerr Avon was unavailable for comment. He is in hospital being treated for a broken heart. Nurses report him as saying "I always thought my death and Blake's would be linked in some way," but it is currently unclear whether he is just being a big drama queen.