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Countdown was the ninth episode of Series B, first broadcast 6 March 1979. This was the first episode to mention Star One.


From the VHS release:

Federation Officer Provine knows the whereabouts of Central Control. And Provine's on Albion. It's simple enough to go down. Then Avon runs into an old enemy and a deadly Federation time bomb...


On the planet Albian, the Federation garrison are under attack from the local rebels. With his forces being overrun, Major Provine enters a secret tunnel heading for an escape silo with Sergeant Selson, leaving his deputy Tronos to activate a solium radiation device. The lead rebels - Cauder, Grant and Ralli - enter and shoot Tronos but he manages to start the countdown on the device before he dies. Meanwhile, a rockfall kills Selson and blocks Provine's escape route.

The Liberator arrives in orbit: Blake has come to the planet in search of Provine, who once worked at Control and may know its new location. He, Avon and Vila teleport down in the aftermath of the rebellion and makes peaceful contact with the rebels. Cauder explains the situation: The Federation always threatened to detonate the device if there was resistance against them. Cauder gambled on them not going through with it; he assembled the rebels for the assault but hired Grant, a mercenary, to organise the attack. The solium radiation will kill all life on the planet and then disperse, allowing the Federation to send in new settlers.

Cauder's engineer, Vetnor, has failed to diffuse the bomb so Avon investigates. He has an uncomfortable reunion with Grant, who blames Avon for the death of someone called Anna. Vila opens the safe and takes the files inside back to the Liberator for analysis, filling Jenna and Cally in on the situation. Provine emerges from the secret tunnel disguised with a trooper's helmet and knocks Ralli unconscious. Blake and Grant find Selson's body and Provine's ID in the tunnel and Blake realises Provine is alive.

Vila returns with the news that only the remote is in the Federation bunker: The actual device is located at the polar ice caps. Only the teleport can reach it in time, so Avon and Grant return to the Liberator and teleport down to try and defuse it, with Blake saying he'll pull them out if the timer reaches fifty. As they work, Avon explains what happened to Anna: Avon went to get passes to get them both out of the city but the man attempted to betray him. Avon killed him but was wounded in the process and taken into hiding, during which time Anna was captured by the Federation and tortured to death.

Provine reaches the silo but it has already been sabotaged by a rebel, Arrian. After failing to convince him they can both escape, Provine kills him and uses his uniform to try and find the equipment he needs to effect repairs. However, he is co-opted by Vetnor. Meanwhile, Avon and Grant work out how to defuse the bomb by blocking the detonators but can't do it in the time Blake allowed, so take off their bracelets.

Blake decides to take a rebel and check on the silo. Vila and Ralli find personnel files and realise Provine is the man who went with Blake. Vila goes to warn him. Blake and Provine exchange fire and Provine is wounded. Blake offers him medical treatment in exchange for the location of Control. Provine tells him that it is now known as Star One and only a cybersurgeon named Docholli knows its location but dies before he can tell them where Docholli is.

Blake offers to take some of the rebels to safety but Cauder and Ralli both refuse. Blake decides to stay on hearing Avon can't be teleported. Grant is buried under rubble when the melting ice, caused by their turning the heaters on, caves in but Avon manages to block the last detonator with seconds to spare. Back on the Liberator, Grant decides to return to Albian to help the rebels rebuild. He wonders why Avon didn't leave him to die and Avon points out that Anna was Grant's sister.



Story notes[]

  • Neither Zen nor Orac appears in this episode, although Orac is mentioned, making it the only episode after "Space Fall" for which Peter Tuddenham was not required.
  • At one point, it appeared Blake might be written out in this episode, with Grant being introduced as a potential replacement.
  • In the original script, the cyber-surgeon was called Doc Holliday, which changed to Doc Holli and in the final script it became Docholli.
  • The Guardian spacecraft from "Time Squad" reappears as the escape rocket.



Filming locations[]

TV Film Studios, Ealing.

Production errors[]

When Avon drills the holes in the transparent detonator tubes to insert the rods, the holes are clearly already present before he inserts the drill.



Vila: I've been a wanted man all my life. What I need now is to be unwanted.

Avon: It would be stupid to be shot up by our own allies.
Vila: Not only stupid. Painful.

Vila: (about to open the safe) It should open like a dream.
(Safe door explodes)
Blake: More like a nightmare.

Grant: I heard you were dead.
Avon: I heard the same about you. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

(After Grant has instructed Avon which order to cut all but one of the wires)
Grant: Next bit's straightforward. Do you want me to do it?

Home video releases[]

Series 2 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 11) in 1991.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 11) on 2 November 1998.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 2 box set on 17 January 2005.

External links[]