Sapphire And Steel – 1979
Proving that good sci – fi was not just the domain of the BBC, this atmospheric at times even creepy series was a huge hit for ITV.
The brainchild of Peter J. Hammond, who came up with the idea after a stay in a haunted castle, Sapphire and Steel ran between 1979 and 1982. However only thirty four episodes were ever made over six series. Each series consisted of one story, the first two stories being transmitted in the summer of 1979. As was common around the time industrial action interrupted the second story’s transmission, which lead to it been repeated later that year. It would be 1981 before series three and four were broadcast. The fifth series went out in August 1981, with a sixth series kept back for later transmission.
By 1981 production costs were increasing, there were changes taking place to the structure of the Independent Television network and with the high profile of the two lead actors meaning they had only limited availability to offer the series it was decided to let the show go. As a result a final four part series was broadcast in August 1982.
An interesting point is that at the time this show was made there was no water shed, so the show would go out weeknights at around 7.00pm. Probably if it was being screened today the creepy nature of the stories would push it to an after 9.00pm time slot.
Despite it’s place in cult TV history it’s never been repeated on UK terrestrial TV, there was a limited run of repeats on satellite channel Bravo in the mid 1990’s.
The series was briefly revised for a series of audio dramas produced by Big Finish and starring David Warner and Susannah Harker.
Sapphire and Steel are two extra terrestrial investigators who along with other elements can engage human form. Their prime purpose is to investigate weak spots in time.
Their job is to assess the situation and then, if intervention is warranted, Operators are assigned to deal with the problem by a mysterious unseen authority, to be assisted by Specialists if necessary.
The stories themselves are quite cryptic but very atmospheric and often quite creepy.
Steel – David McCallum
Sapphire – Joanna Lumley
Peter J. Hammond
Peter J. Hammond, Don Houghton and Anthony Read (series 5)
Produced By: ATV for the ITV Network
Original Transmission Dates: 10th July 1979 – 31st August 1982