David Jackson

Olag Gan in 'Blakes 7'
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The Independent Online

Playing Olag Gan in Blakes 7 brought David Jackson a legion of fans who made cult heroes of the gentle giant and his fellow "revolutionaries" fighting the Fascist forces of the Terran Federation in the BBC television sci-fi series. Looking like a futuristic version of Robin Hood's Little John, Gan was among those who met Blake (Gareth Thomas) in the prison ship London, on the planet Cygnus Alpha, in the second century of the third calendar.

Gan had taken the life of a Federation security guard who raped and murdered his girlfriend, and had a "limiter" implanted in his brain to prevent him killing again. Nevertheless, Gan threw himself - and his bulky physique - into many scrapes in attempting to topple the Federation after a small band of outlaws escaped in an alien ship, which they named the Liberator. Gan was the muscle, if not the brain, of the crew, proving to be a brave and loyal follower of Blake, and the strongest advocate for morality among an assortment of convicts and dissidents.

But Jackson was one of three actors whose characters were killed off after two series (1978-79). Gan became the first of the Liberator crew to die, after a failed attack on Control, the Federation's communications centre on Earth. Blakes 7 ran for a further two series.

Born John James Jackson in Liverpool in 1934, he performed in amateur dramatics before training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda), and then taking the stage name David. He gained experience at the Old Vic Theatre and with rep companies around Britain.

He broke into television with a regular role, as Lofty, in the final two series of the sitcom The Larkins (1963-64), which starred Peggy Mount as the bellowing and bawling head of a cockney family. This was followed by a string of bit-parts in series such as The Saint, The Avengers and The Liver Birds, while on the big screen David Jackson played a policeman in the film 10 Rillington Place (about the serial killer John Christie, 1970) and a nurse in the chiller Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (1971).

After taking four roles in Z Cars, as both criminals and policemen (1965-71), he returned to the classic television series as Det Con Braithwaite on and off between 1972 and 1978, before joining Blakes 7. Later, he played Lazar Wolf, the butcher, in the London revival of Fiddler on the Roof (Apollo Victoria Theatre, 1983) and Monsieur Lefèvre, the retiring theatre owner, in the original West End production of The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty's Theatre, 1986-87), also singing on the musical's soundtrack album.

More recently, he starred with Karin Fernald in a two-handed play, My House Guest, Dr Johnson, first performed at the National Portrait Gallery's Gallery Theatre in 2000.

Anthony Hayward

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