Paul Darrow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paul Darrow
Paul Darrow.JPG
Darrow in 2007
Paul Valentine Birkby

(1941-05-02)2 May 1941
Died3 June 2019(2019-06-03) (aged 78)
EducationHaberdashers' Aske's Boys' School
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1963–2019
Known forBlake's 7
Spouse(s)Janet Lees Price

Paul Darrow (born Paul Valentine Birkby; 2 May 1941 – 3 June 2019) was an English actor. He became best known for playing Kerr Avon in the BBC science fiction television series Blake's 7 between 1978 and 1981.[1] His many television roles included two appearances in another BBC science fiction series, Doctor Who, playing Captain Hawkins in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970) and Tekker in Timelash (1985). He was also the voice of "Jack" on independent radio stations JACKfm and Union JACK, whose lines included dry-witted comments pertaining to current events.

Early years[edit]

Darrow was born Paul Valentine Birkby in Chessington, Surrey, on 2 May 1941. He received his formal education at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, before studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[2] While at RADA, he shared a flat with fellow actors John Hurt and Ian McShane.[3]


Darrow worked extensively in theatre and television.

His television appearances include: Emergency – Ward 10, The Saint, Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, Within These Walls, as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1975 BBC series The Legend of Robin Hood, as Mr. Tallboy in the 1973 adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, as Thomas Doughty in the television film Drake's Venture, Dombey and Son, Maelstrom, Making News, Pie in the Sky, Hollyoaks, Toast of London and Little Britain. He provided the voiceover for Biblical quotations in Richard Dawkins's The Root of All Evil?. He had a one-off appearance in the 1990 series of Cluedo, but did not play the murder victim. He was also the presenter of the BBC3 reality series Hercules (2004).[4]

Darrow appeared as the character Avon, for which he was best known, in all but the first episode of Blake's 7. Proud of his work on that series, Darrow acted as its most prolific spokesman, both in the UK and the US, during the late 1980s. In the mid-to-late 1990s, he purchased the rights to Blake's 7 and attempted to produce a big-budget follow-up mini-series, Blake's 7: A Rebellion Reborn. According to Darrow, it would have begun 25 years after the ending of the original series[5] and might have included an ageing Avon passing the torch to a new generation.[citation needed]

His film credits are few, but include roles as doctors in The Raging Moon (1971) and the Bond movie Die Another Day (2002), for which he filmed but much of his material was deleted before the film went on release to cinemas. Darrow appears briefly in the final product.

Portrait of Paul Darrow in 2012

Darrow recorded voice-overs and straplines for UK JACKfm station in Oxfordshire. He also provided the voice of the character Grand Moff Tarkin in the computer game Star Wars: Empire at War.[6] He also voiced the character of Zarok in the PlayStation game MediEvil; his recordings were re-used in the game's 2019 remake. Darrow appeared in Emmerdale from 13 July 2009, playing Eddy Fox, Alan Turner's friend; he knows Turner as "Tank".[citation needed] He also played the character of Kaston Iago in the Kaldor City audio releases.

Darrow also provided the voice of a main character in the PC game Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising. The actress Glynis Barber, who played Soolin in Blake's 7, provided the voice for the main female character. The game was narrated by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame.[7]

Darrow played the role of Sam Vimes in the 1998/99 touring production of the play based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Guards! Guards!.[8]

In 2004, Darrow was the subject of the fourth volume of MJTV's "The Actor Speaks" audio CDs, featuring frank interviews and dramatic pieces, alongside guest Peter Miles, with a piece specifically written by Tanith Lee.

Darrow narrated the 2008 audio book of Terry Nation's classic children's story Rebecca's World: Journey to the Forbidden Planet (2008)

In December 2011, Darrow voiced the character of Overseer Tremel in the Bioware MMORPG release Star Wars: The Old Republic.

In 2012, Darrow returned to the role of Kerr Avon in Big Finish Productions' Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles, a series of dramatic readings which take place during Series One, Two and Three of the original show. He also reprised the part in Blake's 7: The Classic Audio Adventures, a full-cast audio drama series.

In 2015, Darrow starred as Paul Rand, the enigmatic business man in charge of the business institute Atlas in the interactive video game Contradiction: Spot the Liar!. A sequel was planned in 2016, but never came to fruition.

Darrow was Patron of the University of York Astronomy Society (AstroSoc) from 1981 to 1984.

An extinct crocodile from the Miocene of Australia, Baru darrowi, was named after Darrow.[9]

On 27 October 2018, Darrow appeared on (and won) a celebrity sci-fi edition of the quiz show Pointless, along with fellow Blake's 7 star Michael Keating.[10]

Personal life[edit]

In the mid-1960s Darrow married the actress Janet Lees-Price. They were married almost fifty years, until her death in 2012, and lived in later life in Billingshurst, West Sussex.[11][3][12]

Illness and death[edit]

In his last years Darrow suffered a decline in health. In 2014, he had an aortic aneurysm, and due to complications during its treatment, surgeons had to amputate both his legs.[13][14] He died on the morning of 3 June 2019 at the age of 78.[3][15][16][12] The 2019 remake of MediEvil, which featured Darrow as the voice of the main antagonist Zarok, was dedicated to his memory.


  • Avon: A Terrible Aspect (1989) (ISBN 0-80651-112-5), a Blake's 7 prequel novel about Avon's father and Avon's own early life.
  • Queen: The eYe (1997) (ISBN 9780752203713), a novelisation of the video game of the same name.
  • You're Him, Aren't You? (2006) (ISBN 1-84435-236-6), autobiography. (Re-released as an audio book narrated by Darrow in 2016.)
  • Lucifer (2013) (ISBN 9781781780473), first of a trilogy of books set after the events of Blake's 7.
  • Lucifer: Revelation (2014) (ISBN 9781781783900), second of a trilogy of books set after the events of Blake's 7.
  • Lucifer: Genesis (2015) (ISBN 9781781783870), third of a trilogy of books set after the events of Blake's 7.



Year Title Role Notes
1964 Dr Strangelove Navigator Lt. Sweets Uncredited
1970 Mister Jerico Receptionist
1971 The Raging Moon Doctor
2002 Die Another Day Doctor
2006 Battlespace Horondo the Computer Direct-to-video


Year Title Role Notes
1963 The Odd Man Salesman Episode: "A Pattern of Little Silver Devils"
1965–1966 Emergency-Ward 10 Mr Verity 56 episodes
1967 The Saint Omar Episode: "The Gadic Collection"
1968 Virgin of the Secret Service Sayid Episode: "The Pyramid Plot"
1968 Frontier Captain Hume Episode: "His Lordship"
1968, 1978 ITV Playhouse Anthony Eden / Julian 2 episodes
1969 The Newcomers Cedric McDermott 2 episodes
1969 Special Branch Lawyer Episode: "Smokescreen"
1969 Coronation Street Doctor 2 episodes
1969–1971 The Flaxton Boys Captain Sterman / Wellington Moth / The Venerable 3 episodes
1969, 1973 Z-Cars Trench/Jerry Shand 3 episodes
1970 Manhunt Eddie Episode: "The Losers"
1970, 1985 Doctor Who Captain Hawkins / Tekker Doctor Who and the Silurians/Timelash
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Doctor Hart Episode: "A Message from the Deep Sea"
1973 Lord Peter Wimsey Mr Tallboy Serial: "Murder Must Advertise"
1974 Churchill's People Marcellus Episode: "Pritan"
1974–1975 Within These Walls Dr Green 2 episodes
1974, 1976 Dixon of Dock Green Tony Kinsley/Pearce 2 episodes
1975 The Poisoning of Charles Bravo Charles Bravo 3 episodes
1975 Prometheus: The Life of Balzac Cador Episode: "The Human Comedy"
1975 The Legend of Robin Hood Sheriff of Nottingham TV miniseries
1976 Couples Ralph Hewitt 6 episodes
1976 Killers Edward Abinger 2 episodes
1976 When the Boat Comes In Barford Episode: "A Pillowful of Buttercups"
1977 Rooms Peter Wishart 3 episodes
1977 Yes, Honestly Bernard Episode: "The Man Who Shot Bernard Vallance"
1978–1981 Blake's 7 Kerr Avon 51 episodes
1979 Penmarric Robert Yorke 1 episode
1980 Hammer House of Horror Andrews Episode: "Guardian of the Abyss"
1980 Drake's Venture Thomas Doughty TV movie
1983 Dombey & Son James Carker TV miniseries
1985 Maelstrom Oliver Bridewell TV miniseries
1989 Storyboard George Episode: "Making News"
1990 Making News George 6 episodes
1991 Dark Justice Perth Episode: "Nowhere to Hide"
1991 Fiddlers Three Reggie Parsons Episode: "The Man Most Likely To"
1991–1992, 2009 Emmerdale Farm Eddy Fox/Patrick 12 episodes
1992 Haggard Jack Episode: "Mad Jack"
1992 Science Fiction Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Episode: "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Link"
1996 Pie in the Sky Colin Wilkes Episode: "New Leaf"
2000 The Strangerers C.D. 6 episodes
2000 Rough Magik Mr Moon TV movie
2002 Hollyoaks Judge 1 episode
2004 Little Britain Conservative MP 1 episode
2005 Twisted Tales Mr De Vere Episode: "Flat Four"
2009–2011, 2013–2014 Law & Order: UK Prentice 7 episodes
2014 Toast of London Duncan Clench Episode: "Desperate Measures"

Video Games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Gender Wars Professor Jonathan Henry Smythe Voice actor
1997 Queen: The eYe Voices Voice actor, also wrote the novelisation based on the game
1998 MediEvil Zarok Voice actor
2000 Imperium Galactica II: Alliances English version, various voices Voice actor
2001 Hostile Waters Walker Voice actor
2003 Primal Ferai Shaman/The Watcher Voice actor
2005 MediEvil: Resurrection Zarok Voice actor
2006 Star Wars: Empire at War Grand Moff Tarkin Voice actor
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Overseer Tremel/Additional voices Voice actor
2014 Elite Dangerous MinuS Voice actor, DLC pack
2015 Contradiction: The Interactive Murder Mystery Movie Paul Rand FMV
2019 MediEvil Zarok Archive sound, dedicated to Paul Darrow

Radio and CD audio dramas[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1998–1999 Blake's 7 Kerr Avon 2 stories: "The Sevenfold Crown" and "The Syndeton Experiment"
2005 Doctor Who - The Monthly Adventures Guidance Serial: "The Next Life"
2005 The Adventures of Luther Arkwright Cromwell
2010 Rebecca's World - Journey to the Forbidden Planet Narrator
2012–2016 Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles Kerr Avon/Narrator 17 episodes
2013–2020 Blake's 7: The Classic Audio Adventures Kerr Avon 33 episodes


  1. ^ Williamson, Marcus (5 June 2019). "Paul Darrow: Actor who starred in cult TV series Blake's 7 and Doctor Who". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Blake's 7 star Paul Darrow dies after short illness". Aberdeen Evening Express. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow dies at 78". BBC. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  4. ^ Hercules (TV series) at IMDb
  5. ^ "The many proposed returns of Blake's 7". 20 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Interview: A conversation with actor and writer Paul Darrow". Flickering Myth. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Hostile Waters". 17 March 2001.
  8. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: peter benedict (28 May 2009). "Terry Pratchett's GUARDS! GUARDS!" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "Baru darrowi - Australian Museum". Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Pointless Celebrities series 11 - Sci Fi". BBC iPlayer. 27 October 2018.
  11. ^ Page, Sarah (4 June 2019). "Tributes to Billingshurst-based Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow". West Sussex County Times. Billingshurst, West Sussex, UK. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  12. ^ a b Belam, Martin (3 June 2019). "Paul Darrow, cult favourite in Blake's 7, dies aged 78". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Some bad and good news about Paul Darrow". 12 May 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2018.[better source needed]
  14. ^ "Cult Actors 8 Paul Darrow". 11 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Blake's 7 star Paul Darrow dies after short illness". South Wales Argus. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  16. ^ @JACKfmOxford (3 June 2019). "Shocked and saddened to announce this news today. We've lost a true gent - the iconic voice of JACK. We're still taking it in. Thanks for everything, Paul Darrow" (Tweet). Retrieved 3 June 2019 – via Twitter.

External links[edit]