2016 continues to be a bitter year, with the sad news that another favourite actor of mine, Gareth Thomas, has died.
Whilst there’s no doubt that he’ll always be best remembered as Roj Blake, he made a score of other television appearances – a few of which I’d which to highlight. Parkin’s Patch (1969-1970) was his first regular television role – he played Ron Radley, one of the supporting characters to PC Moss Parkin (John Flanagan). It’s a decent village-based police series and the DVD is worth picking up.
Another series with Gareth Thomas in a supporting role which is certainly worth a look is Sutherland’s Law, which saw Thomas play alongside Iain Cuthbertson (later the pair would appear in Children of the Stones, yet another series that any fan of 1970’s archive television should own).
Thomas was part of a fine ensemble cast who were brought together for the 1975 BBC adaptation of How Green Was My Valley. Stanley Baker, Sian Phillips, Nerys Hughes, Ray Smith, Jeremy Clyde and Clifford Rose were amongst his co-stars, which gives a good indication of the strength in depth of the casting.
Not everything he appeared in was of the same quality, Star Maidens (1976) was entertainly awful but Thomas managed to emerge with his dignity intact. Not an easy job! He was a semi-regular in the likes of By The Sword Divided and London’s Burning in the 1980’s and 1990’s and continued to rack up numerous credits up until Holby City in 2011.
Although a fair amount of his work is available on DVD, a few key series aren’t. Knights of God (1987) is, like the rest of the TVS archive, mired in rights issues so YouTube is the best bet for that one. It would be nice to see someone pick up Morgan’s Boy (1984) for a DVD release though.
Returning to Blakes 7, whilst Blake might sometimes be overshadowed by Avon (it’s always easier to write for the dissenting voice on the sidelines, rather than the straight-ahead hero) there’s no doubt that Thomas was the glue that held the series together for the first two years – Blake’s absence was certainly felt during series three and four. And Blake’s return in the 52nd and final episode still has considerable power and impact some thirty five years later.