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Gambit was the eleventh episode of Series B first broadcast 20 March 1979.


From the VHS release:

Docholli's been traced to Freedom City, a gambler's paradise, and Blake's convinced he knows the location of Star One. Trouble is so is Servalan and she's got there before them. Then Vila and Avon wander off to do a spot of gambling on their own...


In a bar at Freedom City, a dishevelled surgeon, Kline, is approached by Zee, a man he treated after a shuttle accident whose new artificial leg has left him with a limp. Zee attempts to kill Kline but is disarmed by Travis, who has been acting as Kline's bodyguard since saving his life in the incident. The manager, Chenie, asks Kline if many patients try to kill him and he sadly notes that some have every right to.

The Liberator has arrived at the planet in search of Docholli. Blake distributes photos of their quarry to Jenna and Cally, who are accompanying him to the surface, which show that Kline is Docholli. Avon and Vila, annoyed at being left behind, make a plan to secretly use Orac's ability to control computers to win big at the casino. They manage to trick Orac into reducing his size to make him easier to carry.

Servalan is also on Freedom City and approaches the facility's head, Krantor. She explains she is looking for Travis and Docholli and wants Travis brought to her alive and Docholli brought to her either dead or alive. Krantor's assistant Toise surmises that Kline is Docholli.

While Docholli is sleeping off a drunken stupor in Chenie's back room, Travis is knocked unconscious by Krantor's henchman Cevedic and taken to Servalan. Krantor eavesdrops as Servalan and her henchman Jarriere disconnect Travis' gun arm and place a grenade inside that will go off when it's removed. When Travis recovers, he denies all knowledge of Docholli and Servalan lets him go. Krantor realises Docholli must know a Federation secret and orders his men to kill Travis before he can find Docholli and set off the grenade. Servalan explains to Jarrier that this is what she planned: If Krantor learns the secret of Star One from Docholli, she can use it as an excuse to occupy Freedom City. She adds that even if Travis gets to Docholli before Krantor's men find him, she has planned for that.

Blake's group are in Chenie's bar when Cevedic turns up looking for Docholli. Cally telepathically senses that Chenie is hiding him. Docholli realises Servalan is looking for him and Chenie offers to smuggle him away from Federation space on a Trantinian ship. Blake has Jenna and Cally stage a fight so he can slip into the back room but finds Docholli already gone. However, since he left his surgical equipment, Blake decides to wait for him.

Avon and Vila witness a patron, Thrylce, challenge the Klute to speed chess and be electrocuted when he loses. Vila plays the gambling wheel with Avon and Orac relaying him instructions via his communicator, winning five million credits. Since all his men are out searching for Travis and cannot steal the money back, Krantor shuts the wheel down, then gets Vila drunk and tricks him into challenging the Klute in order to double his money. Rather than lose their winnings, Avon gets Vila to play, with Orac advising him on moves. The Klute concedes a draw and Avon and Vila hastily depart with their winnings.

Travis goes to Docholli to get his arm fixed and Chenie tells him where he is and gives him Docholli's instruments. Blake, Jenna and Cally see him leaving. At the spaceport, Travis kills Cevedic and one of his men in a brief gun battle but not before Cevedic tells him about the grenade. Blake's group arrive, holding Travis at gunpoint, and Blake asks Docholli about Star One.

As he repairs Travis' arm, Docholli explains the truth: He was assigned to perform memory wipes on those who worked on Star One but, contrary to popular belief, never scanned their brains to learn the location. He faked the procedure on a fellow surgeon called Lurgen, taking a copy of the brain instead, then they both went on the run. The group discover the grenade isn't primed and send Travis on his way. As Chenie arrives with the Trantinian captain, Docholli gives Blake one last piece of information: Lurgen's brain print is on Goth, worn around the neck by a person of royal blood.

Avon and Vila make it back to the Liberator just before Blake, Jenna and Cally and are left struggling to hide both their winnings and the return to normal size of Orac.



Story notes[]

  • Zen does not appear in this episode, making it the first occasion where Peter Tuddenham is instead credited as voicing Orac.
  • John Leeson, who plays Toise, was previously Pasco in "Mission to Destiny".
  • Deep Roy, who plays the Klute, was previously a Decima in "The Web" and later Moloch in "Moloch".
  • Michael Halsey, who plays Zee, was previously Varon in "The Way Back".
  • Sally Knyvette jokingly described her cat-fight with Jan Chappell as "us against the rest of the BBC". Both actresses enjoyed filming the scene.
  • The script suffered from the heaviest editing from original draft to final screen version. Some of this was due to the rather adult nature of some of the conversations between Jenna and Cally, who had infiltrated Freedom City in the guise of two ladies of the night.
  • Originally it was intended that the episode would have no incidental music, as Dudley Simpson was away on holiday at the time he would have scored the episode. Sound effects designer Elizabeth Parker felt that the rough cut of the episode was lacking, and so created a few short music cues that she dubbed onto the Speed Chess matches, to the approval of David Maloney. By this point, however, the end credits for the episode had already been produced, and there was no time to re-film them to have Parker credited as composer in addition to her usual role.
  • In the original script, Avon got sick as a result of overeating his ice-cream, hence why he spits it out.
  • Brian Croucher felt that John Leeson and Aubrey Woods attempted to out-camp each other at the cost of presenting believable performances.
  • This is one of the few episodes whhere Servalan wears something other than her usual white. Here she wears red.



Filming locations[]

Royal Festival Hall underpass.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • This episode establishes that Orac can operate the Liberator's teleport even when not aboard the ship.
  • Blake was told that Docholli knew the location of Star One in Countdown. It is unclear how Servalan and Travis are aware that he knows.
  • The previous episode, Voice from the Past, showed Servalan and Travis working together. Here, however, she is attempting to kill him.
  • Avon and Vila compare Freedom City to Space City, seen in Shadow.


Vila: There are times when I almost get to like you.
Avon: Yes, well, that makes it all worthwhile.

Travis: That your new muscle, Servalan? Looks like a powder puff.

Jenna: Right now I doubt if he's thinking of his living. Just keeping alive.

Home video releases[]

Series 2 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 12) in 1991.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 12) on 4 January 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 2 box set on 17 January 2005.

External links[]