In the first season of Blake's Seven (Blakes Seven? Blake's 7? Blakes 7?), the titular seven are:

  • (Roj) Blake
  • (Kerr) Avon
  • Jenna (Stannis)
  • Vila (Restal)
  • (Olag) Gan
  • Cally
  • Zen

Apart from Zen and apparently Cally, neither of whom is human, all the characters have two names, but some of them are referred to by first name and some by surname. Why is this? Is there some coded social signalling going on? Admittedly Avon is dislikeable enough (in-universe) that maybe nobody would want to be familiar with him, but the same couldn't be said for Gan.

  • 1
    And in the later series you have Del Tarrant but Dayna Mellanby. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 7:09
  • Out of universe, this is probably because Blakes 7 was made in the late 1970s in the UK when it was more common for men to refer to one another by their surname, particularly in a work or formal setting or they were not close acquaintances.
    – user22478
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


The main phenomenon in the naming convention is patronizing sexism. The women are referred to by given names, and the men (except Vila Restal) are referred to by surnames.

Addressing someone by last name seems more military; calling them by first name is more intimate, personable. Women are expected to be "softer," less militaristic, so they get called by their first names. The men are supposed to seem tougher and are known by their last names.

The exception, obviously, is Vila Restal. I theorize that he is referred to the way he is as a way of alluding to the fact that he is not the slightest bit respectable.

  • 5
    I haven't seen the show but people use surnames as nicknames and prefer to be called by it in some cases, the military being a place where this happens a lot. I don't see why this needs to be a jump straight to sexism rather than people just calling others by their preferred name.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 8:48
  • 1
    It could also be an indication of seniority, with less formality for more junior members. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 10:26
  • Sexism was actually my first thought, but then why are Jenna and Vila the two exceptions to the surname references? (@NicolaTalbot They don't seem to have much of a 'seniority' system, except that Blake is the leader and Avon is challenging him, but if anything Jenna seems more 'senior' than Gan or Cally, so I don't think that works either.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 11:02
  • @TheLethalCarrot, anything to bring in that sexism card ;-) I spent a very long time in the military. Calling people by last names tends to disappear with long acquaintance, shifting to first names as friendships develop. Calling someone by last name is handy when you aren't familiar with everyone and their last name is on a name tag or stenciled on their shirt/blouse. Last names are useful when any chance of confusion (how many people do you know whose name is Mary, Mike, etc.) might exist. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 15:31
  • @Ring Yes and no. It really depends on the person, I know people who prefer to be called by their surname and people who's nicknames come from their surname. It's really down to personal preference. I just know in places like the military surname tends to have a higher preference than other places, at least initially, as you say.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 15:34

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