Paul Darrow, actor

The actor Paul Darrow, who has died at 78, was a household name in the late 1970s and 80s through his role as the freedom fighter Kerr Avon in the BBC science fiction series, Blake’s 7.

Paul Darrow as Avon in Blake 7.
Paul Darrow as Avon in Blake 7.

He also appeared in more than 200 other shows including Doctor Who, The Saint, Z Cars, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Little Britain.

Darrow appeared on the stage, too, and spent four seasons at the Bristol Old Vic and in London’s West End, and was the voice of the radio station, JACKfm.

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Born in Surrey in 1941, he went to Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School before studying at Rada, where he shared a flat with fellow actors Ian McShane and John Hurt.

He married the actress Janet Lees-Price after they co-starred on ATV’s Emergency Ward 10 and they were together for 48 years before her death in 2012.

He went on to appear in Coronation Street and another soap, the BBC’s The Newcomers. He was also in an early Yorkshire TV production for children, The Flaxton Boys, and in Within These Walls and The Legend of Robin Hood, as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

But it is for Blake’s 7, the cultish early evening serial created by Terry Nation, who also invented Doctor Who’s Daleks, that Darrow is best remembered. His character was an amoral computer genius who was thrown together with the title character, Roj Blake, in taking on corrupt forces. When Gareth Thomas, who played Blake, left the show, Darrow’s character assumed command.

He returned to Doctor Who in 1985.