When I was a kid, there were three adults that made me tremble with fear whenever I saw them, First up is Darth Vader, no introduction needed. Second was my Uncle Ian, he was (and still is) a no-nonsense man who you listened to when he spoke to you and ignore at your peril, I love him to bits now. Third was the most quiet but scariest of criminals, Kerr Avon from Blake’s 7 played by the talented Paul Darrow.
Born Paul Valentine Birkby on 2nd May 1941 in the town of Chessington, Surrey. He had a formal education before studying at RADA where his room mates were fellow actors John Hurt and Ian McShane.
Long before Blake’s 7, Darrow appeared in quite a few television drams including Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, The Legend of Robin Hood, Maelstrom, Drake’s Venture, and Dombey and Son. He also appeared in two series of Doctor Who.
It was as Kerr Avon in Blake’s 7 that he really came to prominence and really stole the show making the character his. He portrayed Avon as a sardonic but loyal leader (post Blake’s exit) with a dark nature who saved the lives of the crew many times over. Darrow and Avon were permanently linked throughout his subsequent career and life, he even wrote a book on Avon’s earlier years prior to the television series, Avon: A Terrible Aspect.
Darrow was an in-demand voice-over artist and was the voice of Oxfordshire’s JackFM. Linked to space again, he was the voice of Grand Moff Tarkin in the computer game Star Wars: Empire at War. He recorded many audiobooks and in 2012 returned to the role of Kerr Avon in two episodes of Blake’s 7: The Liberator Chronicles.
Darrow was in the Bond film Die Another Day but his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. And he has an extinct crocodile named after him, Baru Darrowi.
Darrow suffered from declining ill health and surgeons had to amputate both his legs due to complications of an aortic aneurysm in 2014. He lived in Billingshurst, West Sussex and he died on the morning of 2rd June 2019. His wife of 50 years, Janet Lees-Price, herself an actress, passed away in 2012.
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