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Sapphire and Steel

Entry updated 4 December 2023. Tagged: TV.

UK tv series (1979-1982). An ATV Network Production. Written/created by P J Hammond (except "Adventure Five" by Don Houghton and Anthony Read). Executive producer David Reid. Produced by Shaun O'Riordan. Directed by O'Riordan and David Foster. Cast includes Joanna Lumley, David McCallum and David Collings. Four seasons, 34 25-minute episodes in all; broken into "Adventure One" (six episodes 1979), "Adventure Two" (eight episodes 1979), "Adventure Three" (six episodes 1981), "Adventure Four" (four episodes 1981), "Adventure Five" (six episodes 1981) and "Adventure Six" (four episodes 1982).

Possibly the most mystifying and least coherent sf series ever to appear on Television, Sapphire and Steel made a virtue of enigma. The lead characters Sapphire (Lumley) and Steel (McCallum) – whose colleagues include Silver (Collings) – are elemental forces in human form, policing the integrity of the corridor of time, which suffers incursions (often appearing as ghosts; see Supernatural Creatures) from the past or future. Sapphire has paranormal Psi Powers, but is not as Time-resistant as Steel. Time shifts and stops; people appear and disappear; Memories dissolve; the atmosphere is theatrical, ardent, brooding; Doppelgangers proliferate; characters become absorbed into pictures and photographs. Amid the pervasive strangeness, the Scientific Error of referring to sapphire (a compound) and steel (an alloy) as Elements seemed barely relevant.

The audience was deeply divided: many saw it as drivel, some as a triumph of popular Surrealism – Magritte meets The Avengers – challenging our Perceptions of what is real. [PN/DRL]


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